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Is there a minimum time that billing companies *have* to give you?

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Is there a minimum time that billing companies *have* to give you?

Old 07-14-06, 10:48 AM
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Is there a minimum time that billing companies *have* to give you?

I have my water billed through a crappy billing company based in Utah. I live in Georgia. I received the bill today, 07/14. They say the bill is due by the 18th. They also say that it was sent on the 7th. Unfortunately, over a third of the bill is administration fees, and the late fee would over double the entire bill. Are there any laws/regulations regarding minimum time to send a bill or is it simply up to every company and what they feel like giving you?
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Old 07-14-06, 10:56 AM
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Part of being an adult is realizing about when monthly bills come, and, if not received, calling the company to check on your balance. I don't think you have anyone to blame but yourself.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:01 AM
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Oooh... burned.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:02 AM
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So you think that a week is an outlandish time for mail to get from Utah to Georgia? And for the only non-additional fee based method of payment to only allow for 11 days roundtrip from sending out the bill until it is late, regardless of locale?
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Old 07-14-06, 11:02 AM
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I don't believe there are any legal requirements for a grace period, unless part of a company's stated policy.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:04 AM
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I recall seeing fine print in one of my bills (credit card, maybe even my mortgage) that stated explicitly that bills are due on their due date, regardless if you receive the bill in time or not.

Essentially, a bill is simply a reminder. It's up to you to make timely payments.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:15 AM
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Unfortunately, every method of making a payment that they have adds an additional fee, except for mail. If so many people feel that 11 days is perfectly acceptable turn around time, I have to accept that. I simply found it odd that when a third of a bill is a fee to deliver that bill, that it is not done with enough time to pay it on time, even if sent out the same day.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by stp115
If so many people feel that 11 days is perfectly acceptable turn around time, I have to accept that.
No one is saying that. We're saying that untimately it's your responsibility to pay your bills on time. It sucks that the company doesn't remind you early enough, but nothing is stopping you from calling said company earlier in the month, getting your amount due, and mailing a check before you get your bill.
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Old 07-14-06, 11:33 AM
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Don't um... bills come the same time every month?
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Old 07-14-06, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by stp115
Unfortunately, every method of making a payment that they have adds an additional fee, except for mail. If so many people feel that 11 days is perfectly acceptable turn around time, I have to accept that. I simply found it odd that when a third of a bill is a fee to deliver that bill, that it is not done with enough time to pay it on time, even if sent out the same day.

just send them a check early for a little more than your average usage or do one of those bill pay things everyone is offering
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Old 07-14-06, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by lordwow
Don't um... bills come the same time every month?
Yeah, and for the past 3 years, the bill has always come within a day or two of the middle of the month. This is the first time the window only left me 4 days until it was due though.

Last edited by stp115; 07-14-06 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 07-14-06, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Part of being an adult is realizing about when monthly bills come, and, if not received, calling the company to check on your balance. I don't think you have anyone to blame but yourself.
Hmmm. So let's say thatone of your bills came at the same time as it did every month. However, instead of having 7 days until it was due several states away, it was moved up to 3 days left - you would feel that it was better to pay the late fee or pay additional money to "expidite" the payment to get it there on time would be the best option?

And that part of being "an adult" would be to anticipate this change? I was going to ask you a question specifically, but now I'm curious enough that I think that I'll make it a poll.
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Old 07-14-06, 12:20 PM
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can't you pay over the phone? i know u said it adds an additional fee but it can't be more the $3.
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Old 07-14-06, 12:24 PM
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Have you checked with them to see if they have an automatic payment program?

I don;t know how it is in that state, but in mine they have it.

I went to the Dept of Water & Sewage. Got their form for autopayments. Filled it out, gave them a voided check and every 2 months, they take out payment on the due date. No fees, no hassle.

I get a statement in the mail every 2 months so that I know what the charges were and how much they took out.
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Old 07-14-06, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by nodoubt
can't you pay over the phone? i know u said it adds an additional fee but it can't be more the $3.

It is, and I'll probably do something like that. It's $10 worth of water, and with the payment fee and the administrative fees, it will be $10 worth of fees on top if that. It's still better than paying late fees and running it up to $26 worth of fees for $10 worth of water. It just seems like a worst case ticketmaster situation.

I'll add a poll later-no time now-I'm really curious how many people regularly have to call and check their balance on a bill to get it paid before the actual bill arrives.

I can't believe that I looked for sympathy on the internets and was let down.


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Old 07-14-06, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Vryce
Have you checked with them to see if they have an automatic payment program?

I don;t know how it is in that state, but in mine they have it.

I went to the Dept of Water & Sewage. Got their form for autopayments. Filled it out, gave them a voided check and every 2 months, they take out payment on the due date. No fees, no hassle.

I get a statement in the mail every 2 months so that I know what the charges were and how much they took out.

They do, and it is free. But I've had a lot of problems with those programs - one that took 2 months at a time randomly for my phone and another that added a decimal place to my bill. Both were fairly difficult to straighten out, as "computers don't make mistakes"*



actualy quote from customer service
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Old 07-14-06, 12:42 PM
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stp, here's what they mean to say:

If this is a utility bill, you can estimate the average cost of the bill. If it's usually $60 you need to send, send $65.

Write out a check for the same amount you just wrote the last one out. Put it in an envelope addressed to the same place. Put a sticky note on it. "Send out August 1"

Then your bill is paid regardless of whether or not you get the statement.

Pretty simple.
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Old 07-14-06, 12:45 PM
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If I were you I would ask the company for a 12-month average over the last year, and then if they bill you quarterly, just budget the one-fourth amount that you come up with and send them a check whether you get a bill or not. As long as you have their proper mailing address and your account number is noted on the check, you should be okay without a statement enclosed. I have worked in accounts receivable departments before and it's not rocket science most of the time.

I know we all get busy and don't always realize when bills don't arrive -- particularly water bills that come quarterly rather than monthly -- but as others have pointed out, it's your responsibility to communicate with the company if you think something is wrong.
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Old 07-14-06, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana

I know we all get busy and don't always realize when bills don't arrive -- particularly water bills that come quarterly rather than monthly
Exactly. You all must be better at this then me. Things like Water bills and newspaper delivery I sort of forget about until I see a bill arrive in the mail. Every month bills you do get in the habit of just paying whether you recieve a bill or not especially if you do it online.
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Old 07-14-06, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by stp115
Hmmm. So let's say thatone of your bills came at the same time as it did every month. However, instead of having 7 days until it was due several states away, it was moved up to 3 days left - you would feel that it was better to pay the late fee or pay additional money to "expidite" the payment to get it there on time would be the best option?
Um, no- when the bill didn't arrive around it's usual time, I'd call the company up, check my balance, and write them a check so it wouldn't be late.
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Old 07-14-06, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Um, no- when the bill didn't arrive around it's usual time, I'd call the company up, check my balance, and write them a check so it wouldn't be late.
The bill did come at it's usual time, but it seems like they moved up the date when the bill is due. At least, that's what I got out of the OP's story. I wouldn't think that they could move the due date like that without notifying you first...
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Old 07-14-06, 02:22 PM
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Just phone the company and ask if they can move your billing period so that you have more time to pay the bill.

My phone bill used to show up after the due date. I phoned them up and they promptly adjusted my billing date so that I'd actually be able to pay the bill on time.
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Old 07-14-06, 04:25 PM
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Do you live in Gwinnett near Alpharetta? From the AJC:

Water bill fiasco affects thousands
Duane D. Stanford - Staff
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gwinnett County water and sewer bills are still soaking the nerves of some residents.

Gwinnett officials say the number of customers affected by everything from premature due dates to missed bills has reached nearly 50,000, up from the more than 20,000 customers reported last month. Making matters worse, many customers calling for help still get a busy signal.

To respond to the flood of complaints, Gwinnett County water and sewer officials have stationed a customer service agent in the lobby of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville to help people sort out problems.

A representative at the station Tuesday said she had handled about 22 customers on Monday. The station opened Friday.

Most of the billing problems stem from a decision to reduce the time allowed for payment of bills from 25 to 15 days, Water Resources Director Frank Stephens said.

Last month, Stephens said the changed due dates were the result of a computer glitch in the department's new billing system. Stephens now says the new billing cycle was implemented on purpose.

"That was a bad decision on my part, which has since been corrected," Stephens said in a letter being distributed to customers.

There have been ripple effects. Automatic payments from some customers' bank accounts weren't drafted last month. Double bills that came the next month caused some to think they were being overcharged.

"Again, I apologize to all our customers for our problems with the bills and the trouble this may have caused them," Stephens said Tuesday.

The county is waiving all late fees for June and July. Stephens said customers should pay their bills at about the same time they usually pay them or, if they are unsure, simply add 10 days to the due date.

"This has been the worst month for the department in 10 years," Stephens said.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

Temporary help desk --- Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville; Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. M-F. By e-mail --- [email protected]

Can't get a customer service agent on the line? Here's what Gwinnett County is telling its customers about recent water and sewer billing problems:

Q. Why do I have two due dates (or bills) this month?

A. A batch of bills went out of our new billing system with incorrect due dates. Please add 10 days to the due date on your bill for the correct date. Due to this error, we are not charging penalties for late payments in June or July.

Q. I'm on auto-debit. Why did my bill not draft from my account?

A. Due to our recent conversion, we have had a few posting problems. Your account will draft at your next due date. Due to this error, we are not charging penalties for late payments in June or July.

Q. I paid my bill, but my new bill shows a previous balance.

A. We have had a posting problem with electronic payments. Please e-mail us at [email protected] and include your account number, customer name, phone number and the amount you paid. We will follow up with you.

Q. My billing dates overlap. Why am I being charged for duplicate days?

A. Our new billing system did not convert all of the billing dates correctly. However, the billing period dates are not relevant for bill calculation. Bills are based on water consumption. You can see your meter readings on your bill and will see that your end read on your last bill is the same as your start read on your current bill. Your next bill will have the correct dates.

Source: Gwinnett County
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Old 07-14-06, 08:06 PM
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Open a separate checking account and deposit the approximate amount of your bill into it every month. Then set up the auto debit program and forget about it. If it's screwed up, then it's not your "regular" checking account.

BTW... maybe it's your luck, but I use auto debit for almost every personal bill that I have. I can't recall one discrepancy in 10+ years. It's been so long since I've actually written a check, I've almost forgotten how.

Good luck to you!
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