As we've covered over the years, there's a long list of fees cable and phone companies now impose, but some of the more annoying ones are the ones that require you pay a fee -- just to pay your bill in a specific way -- like in person
or over the phone
. Recently, we were the first to report
that Verizon had started charging FiOS customers a $3.50
fee just to pay a one-off payment online with a credit card (something they've been doing to landline customers for a while now).
New credit card reform laws have banned credit card companies from charging you to pay your bill over the phone, but it's something we're seeing in all sectors -- from phone and cable to mortgage payments. David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times
takes a look at this wave of pay-to-pay fee mania that's sweeping the nation's corporations, and notes that Chase charges customers $15
to pay via their automated
phone system. He also touches on Verizon's new fee, which is incurred whether you speak to a human or not:
And it doesn't matter whether you speak with a service rep, use the company's automated phone system or pay online. "It's a way to encourage customers to sign up for automated bill pay," explained Jon Davies, a Verizon spokesman. That's one way of putting it. Another is that it's a way to punish anyone who doesn't give the company what it wants: a steady stream of guaranteed payments.
Not only does the company get a "steady stream of guaranteed payments," an automatic payment process usually results in a less attentive customer, who in many cases won't even see their bill total each month if payments are automatic. That makes it less likely you'll notice your bill slowly creeping skyward with the never-ending assortment of other
new fees and fee hikes.