So…it’s been a while. I’ve missed you all. As much as an anti-social recluse can miss imaginary friends. But it’s as much as I have to give.
And today I am going to tell you a story – a cautionary tale. It’s funny, in the same way that seeing someone else slip and fly headlong into a wall is funny. It’s not, but there is a rush of relief that it wasn’t you, that translates into inappropriate laughter.
It started in December, when I was notified of yet another change in payroll policy. This fact, coupled with missing days of work due to holidays and travel, put me in the position of not being able to pay my son’s tuition for school on time. Or my mortgage. But the mortgage has a grace period, and I talked to the school to let them know payment would be in the latter half of the month.
No big whoop. Right?
Then, like a good and conscientious person, I notified the organization that auto-debits the tuition payment, in writing, following their stated protocol to the letter. Cancel the auto-debits, effective immediate and permanently.
I’ll log on and make each payment manually.
About this same time I also cancelled our Direct TV service due to some really lousy customer service.
And I was notified that the company I work for would be taking over a contract I had with an organization that cost me 110.00 each month. Effective February. Woo hoo!
Oh, a few more salient facts: I have a husband. And a car. And a furnace.
January 2nd rolled around, no school auto debit. All good there. So on the 3rd, I hop on a plane with these last words to my husband – “Don’t blow any money, we are super tight.”
9 hours later my card was declined at check in for the hotel. Uhhh…what?
Stupid bank app won’t open. Thank you co-worker-I-don’t-know, for waking up at 11:00 PM to come pay my way in.
Taxi, food, taxi, more food, airport food, more airport food. Home.
Check the bank. What the hell happened??? Husband happened first. Apparently “don’t spend much” translated into “You’re good for 125.00.”
Then DTV happened. I forgot to mail the receiver back so they auto-debited the card I had on file for 200.00. Shouldn’t have left that card on file. Stupid me.
But those two events meant that a taxi ride, and three separate transactions for food all hit on no funds. 65.00 worth of stuff generated 120.00 in fees.
Then the truck broke down. Then the furnace. Then it was February. Thank you, Jesus. Payday.
Pay the mortgage for January. Phew.
Pay the school tuition to find a…zero balance? How can that be? I didn’t pay them in January. And it is now February. So I owe 2 months and only paid for one. How can…Son of a BITCH!!! They did the auto-debit too!!! Shouldn’t have left that card on file. Stupid, stupid me.
Put a halt on all spending, as 1/4 or my pay got sapped unexpectedly. There is zero wiggle room.
Then 3 days later, the final stroke – that contract that I wasn’t supposed to be paying for anymore? Yeah, they did their auto-debit too. The account hasn’t worked for two weeks because it was closed, but fuck it, let’s charge her anyway. Shouldn’t have left that card on file. Stupid, stupid, stupid me.
The end result of those two forays into fuckery? 390.00 in bad check fees at the bank. And another 70.00 in fees to a local store. The one my husband works at!!
And this conspiracy of awesome financial melt down could have been prevented, if only my credit union bill pay wasn’t languishing as an un-clicked link in the corner of their site.
After hours and hours and hours on the phone, I got some of the money back from the tuition processor. I got 45.00 of the DTV money back by over-nighting the receiver back to them. The guy from the web contract has simply stopped responding to my calls and emails.
And last weekend, I went through every site that I could recall ever having opted to keep a card on file and pulled the numbers.
I was ashamed at the number of organizations I no longer do business with that I had left my card info with. A couple of old insurance carriers. My old phone company. An old fuel company.
I lost a few discounts on my car and life insurance by stopping auto-debits, but I’ll take that 26.00 annual increase, thanks. It’s Bill Pay for everyone!
Because how utterly stupid is it to trust a corporation with my money?
So learn from me. Strip those card number off the sites. Key them in manually, and no, you don’t want them to remember it for faster payments next time.
Better yet, take advantage of what is probably a free Bill Pay service through your bank.
I mean, isn’t this why you come here? I’m educational. And just in case you missed the lesson on telemarketers, read this, too: This Call Will Be Recorded In Order To Better Screw You.