By: Revanche

Financial Institutions joining the 21st Century (or not)

July 16, 2012

Glory be – the water company has finally launched a (gasp) website!!

We can view or pay our bills online by check or credit card, in real-time (!) though they may charge a fee for the privilege of paying the bill. They’re seriously considering charging for the privilege of AutoPay!

They’ve taken so long to implement these electronic services that they have managed to get on the carousel right when the rest of the world is starting to take a step backward to a time where using credit cards may cost money.

I was most displeased to read this article in the Wall Street Journal where, as a result of this settlement, merchants are now allowed to charge customers who use credit cards more as an offset to the interchange fees imposed by Visa and Mastercard. (Discover and American Express charge as well but weren’t part of the suit.)
Whether they will actually charge more remains to be seen – smaller merchants represented say they won’t lead the price increases, likely because they don’t want to anger their customers but I know some merchants already do offer tiered pricing with discounts for their cash customers and that’s probably the model that will continue.

That’s a huge pain, I hate carrying cash but if cards will cost more than I’m simply going to change how I pay for things.

In other news, we’ve closed one of PiC’s accounts with a credit union where they were charging him $8 a month for paperless statements. ¬†Unbelievable temerity. It saves paper, time and cost, and yet they’re charging serious money per month. Thank you and we’ll be taking our business elsewhere.

15 Responses to “Financial Institutions joining the 21st Century (or not)”

  1. If credit cards are being charged, HELLO CASH!

  2. Hedy says:

    I am not happy at the thought of being charged to use a credit card.

  3. moom says:

    It’s very common here in Australia to be charged extra for using a credit card (Mastercard/Visa) versus a debit card (called EFTPOS here). The fees for the homegrown EFTPOS system are much lower.

    • Revanche says:

      Does this change your usage? Are there tiered charges to offset rewards cards vs. regular cards? Are the fees for the EFTPOS system lower because of correspondingly lower fees on the merchant side, do you know?

  4. eemusings says:

    Unfortunately, here retailers are legally allowed to charge fees to CC users. I don’t pay them where possible, but say if you’re buying tickets to a concert (one that is going to sell out in seconds) you don’t have much choice but to buy online and pay the fee.

    My power company and internet/phone company allow online payments by CC (not direct debit, which I hate, but actual payments you make and control) with no fees. My insurance company doesn’t have any online payment facility, and as I said I refuse to give a third party access to my accounts via direct debits, so I have to call them when I pay my bill (but insurance isn’t a frequent bill so it’s not too painful).

    • Revanche says:

      Re: tickets for the concert. That’s just adding insult to injury considering the exhorbitant fees that are levied by the ticketseller (usually TicketMaster, here, which is another $2.50- $5/ticket or more)!

      I do not like where this is going but if we’re going back to that, I’m going to have to order checks again and start paying everything by check the way we used to!

  5. StackingCash says:

    Haha, contrary to my namesake, I do like the convenience of using credit cards. I’ve been seeing some businesses offering cash discounts, mainly gas stations. I actually paid cash at a dim sum restaurant because they offered a 5% discount last week! I pay as many of my bills with my credit card to earn rewards, but there are some that don’t allow that practice. Like you, I’m not too happy with this situation and future “progress” versus the credit card companies.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, I generally pay everything but rent or mortgage by credit card for the rewards and pay off the full balance at the end of the statement period as well. But if those days are over …. !

  6. That’s awful – you should tell the credit union why you’re leaving!

  7. Caitlin says:

    I am constantly baffled by how utility companies work. If they weren’t quasi-monopolies, I doubt any of them would be able to stay in business. My energy and gas companies both charge $9.50 per transaction for making payments online unless you do autodebit. I don’t like given them free access to bill my account but that’s my only option if I am unwilling to pay by check each month.

  8. I think it’s hilarious when companies charge to enroll in auto pay or online payments. It’s like…so let’s BOTH waste money mailing and paying bills with the postal service (which isn’t doing so hot) and then deal with things getting lost in the mail.

    Some of the behemoths of industry are usually the most stubborn to make things suck less for everyone involved…such an (annoying) shame.

  9. Eight dollah! What is this…a credit union that thinks it’s a bank???

    I’m also in the “charge me extra and I’ll pay with cash” camp. Back in the Dark Ages, we all paid with cash or checks. Hate hauling a checkbook around, but I’ll sure do it if I have to pay extra to use a credit card.

  10. Gauss says:

    $8 for a paperless statement?! Ridiculous. Make sure you tell them why you left.

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