Rogers (the Canadian one) had a good deal on long-distance plans. Since most of my phone calls to relatives were long-distance (or on another continent, in my dad’s case), and since my current telco couldn’t offer me the same deal, I decided to give Rogers a try.
The long-distance plan was $29.95 a month, plus tax - $32.04 in total.
I set up automatic payments from my bank account every month. Since I always round everything up, I set up payments to Rogers for $33/month. These payments were set to come out ten days before the bill was due.
Everything was peachy for about a year. Rogers was paid each month, the bill never varied, and since I was overpaying slightly, I ended up with a small credit on my account.
Then, I got a phone message from them, about three NSF payments. Each NSF payment was for $80-something, and they needed payment immediately.
Now, something immediately struck me as odd. If my bill was only $32.04 each month, and if I were making payments for $33, any ‘NSF’ payments should have been for $33 each, not $80-something. I’d never made payments for the amounts they were giving me.
I called them back, and they gave me a definitive list of the payments that I had ‘bounced’.
I went through my banking and billing history. For the entire year I’d had service, I could see that, on each bill, my ‘amount due’ was $32.04, and each bill showed a previous payment for $33. My bank account also showed a payment of $33 each month, with no returned payments. At no time did I see any payments for $80-something.
I called them back for more information, and they gave me the dates that each payment had bounced. I told them that I had never made payments in any of those amounts. My bill was always the same, and my payment was always the same. I asked them to go through my billing history, and check to see when the payments were received for the $80-something, and they said they didn’t see any payments made in that amount in the first place.
They DID confirm that my bill was $32.04 each month, and that I always paid $33 each month, no exceptions.
It then occurred to me that since I had never made any such payments, that someone else must have bounced them, and they were applied to my account, in error. I told them to check into this.
I received a call back a few days later, telling me that although they couldn’t find the ‘original’ payments, that I was still responsible for the bounced payments, and that my account would be suspended, and they’d be reporting it to the credit bureau if it was not paid by such-and-such date.
So, in effect, what they were doing was the equivalent of having your neighbor bounce a cheque to pay for groceries, and having the grocery store knock on YOUR door, looking for the payment, and expecting reimbursement for groceries you didn’t buy, never had, and knew nothing about.
And, they were too lazy to actually go through my account history. Someone else bounced three payments, they stuck those payments to my account in error, and they refused to actually check the account history to see if anything was wrong, or acknowledge there had been an error on their end.
I was pissed. I called them back, intending to tell them they needed to apply the bounced payments to the correct account for whoever bounced them (not mine), and the customer service rep literally screamed at me, saying, “WELL, IF YOU’D PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM, WOULD YOU?! HONEST PEOPLE PAY THEIR BILLS ON TIME, THEY DON’T CRY BECAUSE THEIR BILLS ARE OVERDUE AND TRY TO BLAME OTHER PEOPLE!”
The thing was, I always DID pay my bills on time, and in full, and had proof of such. I was fucking livid. But, once the CSR started screaming, she would not let me get a word in. She'd cut me off mid-sentence, threatening me, chastising me, and generally indicating I was a worthless human being.
Since I was on the verge of renewing my mortgage at the time, the last thing I needed was some derogatory shit on my credit report (which would either lead to a refusal to renew, or much higher interest rates). I had no choice but to cough up the $250-ish for someone else’s bounced payments, and I sent a registered letter to Rogers, explaining that the NSF payments were NOT mine and that I should not have been responsible for paying them, and filed a report with the BBB. I also switched service providers, and cancelled my Rogers account.
It took them nine months to figure it out. They eventually sent me a cheque for the $250-something, telling me I’d ‘overpaid’, and that it was an error on their end (gee, do ya think?). They explained that they discovered the bounced payments were someone else’s (no, really?!), and that they’d should have never applied then to my account (well, duh). They also sent me a free movie pass as an apology, and told me they’d love to have my business back (not one slim chance in hell).
I understand that some people don’t pay their bills, and they try to get out of paying stuff (I used to work in a bank and I’ve done collections work, I know all the excuses). But, if someone could provide proof that they’d paid their bill in full each month, and there was no evidence of any payments of $80-something ever having been applied to the account in the first place, why would anyone automatically think that the customer is trying to weasel out of something? Why wouldn’t they look at their own accounting ledgers and say, “hey, something isn’t right here”?
Instead of taking nine months to figure this out, they should’ve taken the time to sort through it before they forced me to pay them for payments that were never mine to begin with.