Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How closely do you look at your bills each month?

Do you open each bill and look at it in detail before paying it?

If not, you might want to.

I am very meticulous with my bills. I enter everything in Quicken and know exactly how much I owe each month and always pay my bills on time. One thing I’ve noticed that keeps happening is there are often charges on my bills that should not be there. When I say often, I mean just about every month some company has slipped in a fee or overcharged me for something and I’m guessing I am not the only one this happens to. But I’m also guessing those of you that are in debt don’t like to look at your bills so you may not even be aware of all the extra charges being piled on to your debt.

For instance, yesterday I was paying my phone bill. It is one of those all in one types… cell phones, land phone, long distance service, and internet are all on one bill. This means my bill is about 15 pages long and incredibly hard to decipher and I am always tempted to just pay the bill and not look through all the pages. But it seemed high so I decided to start combing through it. About a year ago, looking through the same bill I found an extra $9.95 charge on one of the cell phones. That charge was occurring every month! Turns out some 3rd party ring tone company had slipped the charge in. I don’t even shop for ring tones!

When I called my company a year ago… they told me they could block the future charges but could not do anything about the previous ones. They said I had to contact that company directly to get a refund for those charges. Well that company was nowhere to be found. After much research seems they are some company in Italy that doesn’t respond to emails, calls, etc. I am not the only one having this problem.

Mysterious Cell Phone Charges


Anyway, I decided to just eat the charges that I had accrued because it was too much hassle but was happy that they weren’t occurring any more. Then last month I noticed they were back on my bill! I called the phone company again, they apologized, offered to give me a courtesy credit and to block that company again! Guess what? This months phone bill had the charge again and the courtesy credit had not been given to me. Now I owed them $30. Once again, I called my phone company and the charges have been waived…

Another thing that happened was I mailed my credit card payment a few days before it was due and it seemed to arrive to the company a day after the due date. My next bill had over $100 in charges and I don’t even have an outstanding balance on my credit card. That was late fees and interest on the balance that was paid a day late! I managed to get those fees waived too!

A few months back my medical insurance sent me a bill saying I was past due a month and started sending me threatening notes insisting I owed them money. I had to get the canceled check from the bank to prove it to them. That was almost $300.

I could go on and on. Extra bank charges, random credit card fees, double billing, etc… At least once a month there is some charge given to me that shouldn’t be. Calling those 800 numbers is a pain but if I added up all the charges of the last year that I would have paid had I not been paying attention I’m guessing it would be over $1000.00.

Tip: If you are in debt you will be amazed at how much a simple phone call can help you. Call those 800 numbers on your credit card statements and explain to them that you want to get out of debt. Ask them if they can help you by waiving the interest charge or removing some of those finance charges. More often then not they are willing to knock a big chunk of money off of your debt. A friendly phone call goes a long way.

Watch those bills closely and pick up the phone when you need to!

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Are you in debt? Could you use some help simplifying your life? Contact Coach Sally today!

1 comment:

Jennifer Gniadecki said...

Wow!

Luckily I've always gone through my bills with a fine tooth comb. Of course, this doesn't mean I don't get lazy sometimes and just look at the bill and think "Eh, looks about right" and leave it at that.

You're right, it's important to make sure that we're paying for what we get, and that we're getting what we pay for. Sometimes mistakes can happen and fraud can happen...and no one is less at risk than anyone else. We all have to be careful.