Problems with Automatic Bill Payments

Auto bill payments have good aspects, but also potential problems to be aware of. I used to work in a bank and I saw some of the harm that can come from auto bill payments.

First, the positives. Auto bill payments are great for bills that are the same amount every month like your mortgage or your car payment. You know how much the bill is and when it is due, so auto bill pay will insure that the bill is paid on time so you avoid late fees. It is convenient because you do not have to waste a stamp and you can simply log the amount of the bill in your check register.

As for potential problems, it is a lot easier to set up an automatic bill payment than it is to stop one. Once you have given your account number and bank routing number to a business and authorized them to draft your account, it can be difficult to get them to stop. When I worked for a bank, I saw customers who had their health club bills drafted from their checking account every month. Some would cancel their health club membership, but could not get the club to stop billing their account. These people would have to close their checking account and open a new one just to get them to stop billing and debiting their account each month.

I saw similar situations with some credit counseling agencies. Customers who were in debt would go to a credit counseling agency to consolidate their bills. They would authorize the agency to draft their account and the agency would sometimes draft their account for more than they expected. Again, it was difficult to get the agency to stop drafting their account and the person had to close it and open a new one.

Also, if you have a bill auto paid every month and there is an error on your bill, you will be overpaying it. It is a lot easier to dispute a bill before you have paid it. I saw this happen with a utility bill once where the meter was read incorrectly and the person’s utility bill was double by mistake.

So, there are pros and cons to auto bill pay. Be careful with auto bill pay when paying your bills.