Hostirad (hostirad) wrote,

When electronic bill paying does not work out so well

When it comes to home finances, I am all for anything that computers can do to assist the process. I was thrilled when Quicken came out and I never again had to balance my checkbook by hand. I was overjoyed when I could start downloading my credit card transactions into Quicken. And paying bills online with Quicken was awesome. No more stamps and envelopes! All good.

Eventually my bank began offering online bill paying as part of their normal services, so I no longer had to use Quicken's online payment service. That was fine with me, because I no longer had to worry about paying additional charges past a certain number of payments. Then another bank bought my bank, so I had to learn a new, slightly more complex system, but things are still fine.

Until today. I had received a bill from my wife's dentist about a month ago, so I ordered an online payment for it. But the dentist's office received a check from our insurance company, so they mailed the bill paying service's check to us, with a big VOID written on it.

So, the money had already been debited from our checking account, and I had a voided check in my hand. The question became, how do I get the money re-credited to our checking account?

I took it to our local branch bank this morning, and they were totally bamboozled. The clerks said that if VOID had not been written on the check, they could have deposited it in my checking account. They claimed there was nothing they could do. They suggested calling the phone number for the online bill processing service on the check.

I called the number and they told me that I could mail the check to them and they would credit the amount to our account. Or, I could call my bank's bill paying service (notice this is different from the bill processing service I was talking to. But they warned me that there might be a fee for doing it that way.

So I called the bill paying service and they said, no problem, we can credit the amount right away with a stop payment. I asked if there would be a fee for this, and I got the strangest reply: They said that they would not charge for this, but they could not tell me whether my bank would charge me for this. They might. So, apparently these people were not an operation of my bank, they were an independent service that did business with my bank. I told them I would check with my bank first before asking for a stop payment and re-crediting from them.

Then I said, screw it, and decided to mail the damn check to the processing center. Hopefully this will work.

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