Watch Out for Online Bill Pay Errors
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of paying our bills online. We’ve requested e-bills from every company that we can, and we also use our bank’s online interface to send checks to payees that don’t accept electronic payments. All in all, it’s very convenient and we save a ton on postage.
When we first started doing this, I worried that check payments might end up getting improperly credited. After all, we can’t include the payment stub when we initiate the payment online. Fortunately we’ve never had a problem — until this week…
Our six year old recently had a tonsilectomy and adenoidectomy and, as a result, we’ve been getting bills from everyone under the sun. The doctor, the anesthesiologist, the pathologist, the hospital, etc. Anyway, two nights ago, my wife told me that the hospital had called about an overdue bill. I was a bit surprised by this, because I clearly remembered having scheduled the payment.
Yesterday afternoon I double-checked with the bank and, sure enough, the check has already cleared. I assumed that the hospital’s billing department had simply gotten their wires crossed, and the people making the phone calls were working from an outdated list of overdue accounts. Upon calling, however, I learned otherwise.
After pulling up our account, the billing rep got back on the phone and reported that the bill was indeed unpaid. When I told him that I have a cancelled check showing that it’s been paid (Bank of America scans all of your checks and puts them online), he paused for a moment and then asked if I could fax it to him.
That’s where things stand right now — I’ve faxed an image of the cancelled check and am waiting for them to respond and (hopefully) clear our account. The most frustrating thing is that I’m still not sure what went wrong. All I know is that this clearly isn’t our fault, nor is it our bank’s fault. While we didn’t submit the payment stub, the check had the correct account number clearly printed on it and it went to the right place.
Regardless, I’m glad that they went to the trouble to contact us. If they hadn’t, we’d likely be getting another call from a wayward collection agency.