No time to pay!

  skeletal 18:35 10 Jan 07

I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick of companies giving almost no time to pay bills, and getting all aggressive if you are fractionally late, and of course, the move to “fining” you.

In the past few days I had a letter from Telewest giving me TWO days to pay a bill that was overdue (I guess the first was lost in the post), failure to do so would have my phone cut off, and my internet connection disconnected. (Hmm...wonder how I then contact them!!). I then tried my best to pay (lucky I was at home), but of course I needed to talk to a dreadful call centre that I couldn’t for the life of me get through to! It took many tries over two days, being cut off frequently, to finally reach an awful speech recognition system that I hope accepted my credit card details (I assume it has because I can still use the internet etc.). Oh, and I was fined £10 for the mistake/lost bill. (I couldn’t use the internet to pay because the bank clearing system takes three days to send the electrons down the wires).

Today I got a red reminder (but at least this was polite and not threatening) from npower dated 4th Jan. This was for a bill originally dated 21st Dec that I got around 28th Dec (a thing called Christmas tends to slow the post down); I paid 5 days later on 2nd Jan, not quick enough obviously.

I also recently read that British Gas (I think it was BG) will fine you £5 if you are “late”.

So, do you think 2 to 5 days grace to pay a bill is reasonable?

What do you do if you are away?



  leo49 18:44 10 Jan 07

Here's a novel thought: pay the bill when it arrives and all these problems disappear.

  €dstowe 18:52 10 Jan 07

- - -or if you have a bank account, which you seem to have, then use the systems set up by the banks specifically for paying out regular sums either Direct Debit or Standing Order. I'm sure your utility providers will be only too happy to help you set something up.

  skeletal 19:17 10 Jan 07

What a clever idea leo49. Perhaps you missed part of my post, the bit where I said the first bill was lost in the post. The point I am making is that, sometimes, there can be a delay for whatever reason. Is it reasonable to expect people to pay so quickly before coming over so heavy handed? npower's reminder, although irritating, was much more civil. Don't utilites etc. realise that post is delayed at Christmas? Have you never been away from your house for more than two days?

€dstowe: funny you should mention that! When I first went over to Telewest, I tried to set up a direct debit. Again the dreadful call centre. On that occasion the girl told me she was too busy to set one up and cut me off! I’m not sure if I can set up a direct debit without informing Telewest. Given the impossibility of talking to anyone I’m stuck. The npower situation is too complex to go into here.


  leo49 19:33 10 Jan 07

No I didn't miss it - but as Telewest bill at monthly intervals from the installation date[as most ISPs do] the non-arrival would have alerted me that something was amiss.Or perhaps you were hoping they'd forgotten you that month? :o)

  skeletal 19:51 10 Jan 07

I have so much to do (like many people of course) that I cannot keep track of who has sent what bill when. I wouldn't notice if I had not paid for a year, let alone a month!

I'm only asking for a less agressive approach and more time to sort a problem out. It would help being able to talk to someone as well!


  Stuartli 20:11 10 Jan 07

I've not been with British Gas for at least a couple of years, but I seem to remember that there was always a penalty for late payment (imposed after quite a long period of time).

Ideal solution now with StayWarm - fixed monthly sum for gas and electricity and direct debit payments...:-)

  jack 20:41 10 Jan 07

As stated- let the bank do it on time every time
by direct debit - in part or the whole bill.
Then if the bill arrives at an inconvenient time financially[wrong end of the month] the bank overdraft facility will sort it.

  interzone55 20:47 10 Jan 07

Also, many utilities give you small discounts when you pay by direct debit.

I know you lose a little bit of control, and the utilities tend to increase payments occasionally when you use more gas etc than expected, but I have always found that they listen to you if you request a reasonable lower payment.

We have payed phone, gas & electric by DD for a few years without any major problems.

My ISP is also payed by DD.

  skeletal 21:24 10 Jan 07

Although I don’t like DD (stories of thousands been taken out of accounts etc.) I accept that it is a way of avoid stuff lost in the post. Indeed, I have many DDs. That is not the point, which is I do not think it fair for anyone to demand payment so quickly and in a threatening manner.

There are many threads about poor service from computer suppliers and some forum members have reported they have had to send their machines back and ask for a refund. Correct me if I’m wrong, but have any of those had the refund in a couple of days?!

For some obscure reason it is accepted that some financial institutions take 10 days to send a payment electronically.

There are many examples of payments taking some time (one month used to be the accepted time). And yet a consumer is expected to pay so quickly. In my case I could not even use the internet to pay because the time delay would have meant I would be cut off.

I repeat, a few days is too short IMO. I would have thought at least 21 days would be more reasonable (before drastic action; I don’t mind reminder letters).


  laurie53 21:53 10 Jan 07

The last two quarters British Gas have not sent me a normal account, either by e-mail or normal mail, but have gone straight into the red "Overdue Account"

If that happens next time I will automatically be fined. I have taken this up with the Regulator, but since British Gas are the most complained about company in the country I'm not too hopeful!

As far as Direct Debit goes, in another thread I commented that I had recently had a bill for £2,000,later corrected. My overdraft doesn't stretch that far, and once they had taken the money I think I may have found it difficult to get it back


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