Don’t be that person who throws away their monthly bills without reading them.
Too many Canadians rely on the accuracy of computers and the person inputting the data.
Mistakes happen and today, let’s talk about why this can happen and how to handle a billing error.
$100 Mistake On Our Monthly Bills Was Almost Missed
When you’re working on cutting expenses, the last thing you need is to miss fundamental errors on your monthly bills.
Everyone has their ideal way to pay monthly bills, whether by direct debit, credit card, cash, or even the somewhat forgotten cheque.
There is no right or wrong way to pay your monthly bills as long as they are paid in full and on time.
Escaping interest is the game’s name to work towards debt freedom, but in reality, not everyone does this.
Faith In Automating Monthly Bills
Another thing many people fail to do is read their monthly bills.
It’s so easy to sign up for email notifications of monthly bills and have them debited from your bank account when they are due.
How many of you log on to your dashboard and read the monthly bills you are paying?
I bet not many of you because we live in an age where we set it and forget it.
Making sure that monthly bills are paid eases any financial stress or anxiety about staying afloat.
Leaving it at this payment point means that you could be throwing your hard-earned money away.
You’re missing one crucial process step, and that’s setting time aside to ensure the accuracy of what you are paying.
We do this every month when we review our budget to make sure everything is accurate and balanced.
Monthly Bills List
Ensuring that you have a documented list of bills to pay each month is essential so that they get paid and on time.
When I lived on my own, my monthly bills list was reasonably straightforward, but I always reviewed them.
Moving forward 12 years, I have a family, increased monthly bills and credit cards that require even more attention.
I know you’re probably wondering why someone so frugal has multiple credit cards, and the answer is rewards points.
Besides, our credit rating is in the 800’s, and we are debt-free, so it doesn’t affect us unless we don’t pay them in full.
Importance of Reading Monthly Bills
Although having a monthly bills list is a great organizational idea financially, that still doesn’t mean they are accurate.
Moving beyond the list and reading your monthly bills may uncover mistakes made by human or computer error.
When you live on a tight budget, the last thing you need is to reach the end of the month and run out of money.
Suddenly, you have everyday expenses such as groceries or petrol for your vehicle that you can no longer afford.
What happens then?
The quickest and easiest way for many is to take out their credit cards because they’ve run out of cash.
This convenience can quickly add up to financial debt that becomes a struggle to pay back in full.
The odd part is understanding why we are so quick to dish out cash but slow to ensure what we are paying for is correct.
All you need to do is miss a billing error whether you pay your bill on time or not, which then gets rolled into the next month or disappears with payment.
A payment that you may not have needed to pay for.
Consider for a moment all of the things Canadians likely pay for out of error that could have been put towards savings or other debts.
Every little bit counts, and it’s your responsibility to account for every dollar you earn and every dollar you spend.
Scanning Code Of Monthly Bills
Of course, I’m not saying everyone sets their monthly bills on auto-pilot without reading them, but I bet many of you do rely on accuracy.
When the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) became well-known to Canadians, more consumers started reading their receipts.
They were and still are thrilled to find pricing errors to earn a product for free if the price is scanned incorrectly.
What if we were given discounts if we found errors with our monthly bills?
I bet more Canadians would take the time to read their bills if there was an incentive like you get with SCOP.
Although this will likely never happen, it’s up to consumers to protect their money by applying this type of money mindset.
Finding A Mistake On Monthly Bills
Years ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of reading your grocery receipts that became very popular.
The mere thought of being charged extra for food items not purchased, incorrect prices, or double charged hit home for shoppers.
It should be a big deal for everyone because we are handing money out for services or products for errors that should be caught.
After learning about SCOP years ago, we started reading our monthly bills in detail.
Even though we received an email notification that our PC World Elite MasterCard was due, we would log on and read every expense together.
Since we also have a space in our budget binder for receipts for all monthly purchases, it was easy to match what was charged.
Then it happens, you find a mistake.
Mystery Charges On Monthly Bills
We found the billing error on it; it was for my mother-in-law.
Since we handle her monthly bills as she can, it’s our job to make sure they are accurate.
Upon reading her Cogeco bill last month, we noticed a $100 charge for non-return of company equipment.
Both Mrs. CBB and I were not sure why they charged her this fee since the rental equipment was returned.
They sent her a thank-you email to say they had received the equipment to make things even more strange.
Cogeco had sent us email tags for Purolator, which I affixed to the outside of the box and brought in to our local store.
Our tracking of the package also showed that the sender received it.
So, why was she still charged an extra $100 that was debited from her bank account?
We had no clue, so we made a phone call because, for many people, $100 is a significant amount of money to have debited for nothing.
How To Properly Handle A Billing Error
There have been times we aren’t sure about charges on our credit cards or other monthly bills that we have to make a phone call to find out.
Some of you might shake it off as no big deal because hanging out on hold for a few dollars is not worth your time.
The problem is that these companies need to know about any billing errors to fix the way they process our expenses.
Could you imagine a world where we accepted everything because we were too busy or too lazy to fix it?
Our world would fall apart, and the same goes for our financial health; we need to take care of it.
1. Prepare Your Documents
Before frantically making a phone call, the first thing to do is to have all of your documents, monthly bills, and emails ready for reference.
If you’re worried about spending too much time on the phone with customer service, then stay organized to minimize this time.
2. Make Notes About The Error
Write down any notes about the mistake, dates, and have receipts ready just in case they want you to send in a photo of the said receipt.
In our case, we had the email confirming that they had received the digital equipment safely and our Purolator tracking number.
3. Call Customer Service
Stay calm because the person answering the phone had nothing to do with the billing error you are calling about.
Almost all monthly bills have a toll-free number you can call printed on the invoice or located under the “contact us” tab on the company website.
Warmly greet the customer service rep and answer any preliminary questions they have for you about the account holder.
Explain the situation to them and let them know you have the documentation about your case if needed.
Tell them what you would like to see done about the situation.
4. Speak To A Manager
If you don’t find that you are getting anywhere with the first-level contact for customer service, politely ask to speak with a manager.
Although you may not think this is a manager situation, service centers almost always have a manager and supervisor on staff to handle odd cases or unruly customers.
Not all first-level customer service representatives have the power to make changes to billing accounts where there are significant overage charges.
Just don’t accept no when you know there is a mistake and want it rectified.
In the event you are wrong, apologize to them and thank them for their time.
We’ve been wrong about errors on our monthly bills before and did the “Oh ya, I remember now” when talking to customer service.
Treat each other with respect, and the call will go well.
5. Ask For Cash Back
The only downfall was that Cogeco only credited her account the $100 since she still has wi-fi services she pays for.
When companies make monthly billing errors such as this, they should refund the customer in cash.
Once you have settled the mistake on your monthly bill, ask them to return the money to your bank account or send a cheque.
If you need the money, they took it by mistake explain your situation to them.
Worst case scenario, they will credit your account.
In the end, it works out and again, another reason an emergency savings account is imperative.
This would be an emergency worth taking money out had you needed that $100 to get by until the end of the month.
Once you get ahead, return the money to balance your monthly bills and emergency savings account.
She was charged the extra $100 because she did not follow the procedure by an employee.
- No one opened the box to confirm how many items were in the box and assumed only 1 when there were 3.
Customer service had to put us on hold to speak with a manager who tried to track down the missing devices.
Strangely enough, they were in the system after being removed from the box and documented but not credited to the bill.
They went ahead and reversed the charge, so she now has a credit of $100 on her Cogeco monthly bill.
The process was painless, and customer service was 110% which was welcoming after waiting for answers.
Just Read Your Bills For Accuracy
End of the story, read your monthly bills for mistakes.
If we hadn’t read the fine print on the paper bill that came in the mail, we would have paid for that and not known.
Discussion: Have you ever found errors in your monthly bills? How did you handle it?
Leave me your comments below, and I’ll be sure to reply.