Saturday, November 11, 2006

Regarding online bill pay

I had always thought that paying bills online was something that would benefit the people collecting the money, rather than the people paying the money.

For instance, if you pay with checks, the company receiving the check has to process it, and either them or the bank will send you confirmation that the check has been cashed.

But with online bill pay, in particular if you go to each company website to pay, you have to print your own receipts with your expensive toner/ink cartridges. You also have to file individual pieces of paper in their corresponding hanging folders or whatever arrangement you use. And to top it off, you still have to do your own accounting, just like you did with checks!!!

In addition, I also had a feeling that all this alleged automation was actually slower than writing checks. For example, I timed myself at 2 minutes to not even successfully pay my cellular phone bill because somehow the username and password got "upgraded" or whatever. In about half that time, I wrote a check, I wrote the duplicated paper trail in case my computer files blow up, and I also updated my computer file so now my accounting is up to date as well.

In summary, it took me something like half the time, I didn't have to go get any plastic card to type in the account number, the security code, the expiration date, the funny number, the strange number, and the randomized password from my RSA keychain. Moreover, I did not have to print paper with the ridiculously expensive consumables, I did not have to file single pieces of paper, etc.

So. Who should do the secretary work? You, or the other guys? I'd rather pay 39 cents and have them spend the time I would like to use in a productive way instead.

Of course you could have your bank program to pay all these things automatically from your checking account. Alas... for most of these services you have to pay a monthly fee that is usually higher than your expenses on stamps, and in addition you still have to tell the bank how much to pay, etc.

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