Haven’t posted in forever. Funny what pushes my buttons.
I’m paying the bills. For a few years now, I’ve paid any bill that allows it online through my bank’s bill payment system. But my old bank got rapacious enough with its fees that I switched to a new one, even though switching banks is a huge pain in the ass. Gotta set up your automatic deposit again. Gotta remember what accounts you had on auto-pay and get them all switched over. Gotta set up every account you want to pay online on the new bank’s bill payment system. It’s a nuisance.
I thought I’d set up all the accounts when I made the switch a few weeks back, but I just opened my gas bill and remembered that I couldn’t find that one at the time, so I didn’t have the info to get it in the system. Suppose I could just do that now, but I’m kinda busy, don’t really feel like it. So I’m getting ready to just write them a check when I see there’s an 800 number I can call to make a payment. Saves me a stamp, so I ring it up.
Ah, but there’s a catch.
So let me get this straight, Nicor Gas (an AGL resources company). If I call up to pay my bill by phone through your automated system, you get the money sooner because it is immediately transferred from my checking account and you save the expense of having to process a hard-copy mailed payment. For this, you charge me a $3.50 “convenience fee.” If I write a check and mail it to you, it costs me less than $0.50 in postage, you have to process the mail and the paper check, and you don’t get use of the money for the couple of days it takes the mail to reach you, for however long it takes you to process the payment, and for however long it takes the check to clear.
In other words, I can pay you more money to get my payment to you sooner and in a way that is less expensive for you to process, or I can save money by sending it to you in a way that costs you use of that money for at least a few days and that is more expensive for you to process. *Ponders this.* No brainer for me. My bill payment ain’t gonna be late either way, so I’ll save the $3.50 and mail the check. I suppose I could take the time right now to set you up in my online bill payment thingee, but I don’t feel like it right now. I feel like mailing you the check. In fact, I might feel like mailing you the check for a while. I’ve got plenty of stamps.
*Ponders again* This seems stupid to me. Why would a major corporation incent its customers to cost it money? I have to assume Nicor has the usual cadre of bright, over-paid MBAs sitting around thinking of ways the company can rack up profits big enough to pay its C-level execs their obscene salaries while still keeping its shareholders in Gucci loafers, so I have to wonder if maybe there’s some other motivation for this system. So I thought about the business model, about what circumstances might push someone to choose to pay $3.50. Gee, could it be this? There are some people who have a hard time affording their utility bills and so they have to pay them at the last minute, maybe after they’ve gotten a disconnection notice, just the sorts of people who maybe don’t have access to online banking options. Therefore, they have no choice but to pay the “convenience fee” as just one more of the myriad insults that the poor suffer at the hands of the rich?
Couldn’t be that, could it?