Return of the ‘All Cash Economy’

There’s no question that online bill payments—the ability to pay your credit-card bills, mortgage, or car payment with the ease of a single click—are a great convenience.  But now banks and financial institutions are abusing this system to inflate their profits and are destroying people’s credit ratings in the process.

From The Consumerist we hear about two instances where customers had their credit destroyed by predatory corporations who played games with their automated payment systems.  In the first instance, Nissan Auto Finance reversed one woman’s car payments—made on time—in each of six consecutive months without notice and without explanation, then reported her as delinquent to the credit bureaus and refused to correct their error…as they are required to do by law.

In the second, AT&T simply stole $157.00 + from one of their customers by claiming that the customer’s payment via credit-card was declined (it wasn’t) and then auto-debiting the same amount (plus hefty fees) again the next month.  Now, despite proof that AMEX didn’t decline the initial charge, AT&T refuses to do anything about the situation.

These criminals are banking on the fact that their customers don’t have the resources to sue the cr*p out of them, and for the most part they are correct.  So…when dealing with corporations that are willing to resort to out-and-out theft to keep their balance sheets in the black, what’s a consumer to do?  RETURN TO CASH, that’s what!  It is, if fact, the only alternative.  Buy your car in cash.  Pay your bills with checks.  Don’t give these bastards even a single opportunity to rip you off.

10 thoughts on “Return of the ‘All Cash Economy’”

  1. I had the same problem with eBay years back, where they would take more cash from my account than authorized, leaving my bank account conveniently overdrawn . Now I pay everything in cash, and if I don’t have the cash to afford it, it doesn’t get bought.

  2. Kvatch – Please correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t postage stamps legal tender, I know they used to be. If they are come my next electric bill . . . People also used to pay what owe in livestock, imagine walking up to the court house at property tax time, shooing a gaggle of geese, carrying a shoebox full of kittens.

  3. Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me about AT&T. Probably more than ripping off the money, it was a case of somebody not wanting to admit a mistake and/or do the grunt work of straightening it out.

  4. It is a risk we take by doing transactions this way, I agree. On the other hand, a check can get lost in the mail, or the bill lies around and gets forgotten about, the payment is then called delinquent, and so on. I personally love the online bill paying my bank provides and can’t imagine going back to writing out checks. I’ve been much more up to date on my bills since I started doing the online thing – I pay my bills immediately on line (post dating it to when I want it to be transmitted) and then don’t have to worry about them.

    I think all systems have room for errors but I wouldn’t give up the convenience of online billing!

  5. …where they would take more cash from my account than authorized, leaving my bank account conveniently overdrawn.

    Lew… That’s very common with car rental agencies and hotels as well. We once had a NYC hotel pre-authorize 150% of our entire stay up front, the moment we checked in. Not quite as bad as having them actually overcharge, as in your case. But still…

    Frogette… OK! But we’re going to need a wheelbarrow.

    Holte Ender… I got no livestock or produce for our city officials, but maybe I could barter some software–could use the work anyway.

  6. S.W… You’re probably right in the AT&T case, but Nissan? No. That incident is way too over the top.

    Mauigirl… I’ve found a number of online bill-pay systems to be nothing more than ‘check kiting’ where the benefit is reserved for the bank. They withdraw the money from your account, making it available for them to do…whatever with, and maybe depriving you of interest. Then they send the money on a timetable of their choosing, maybe even by check.

    I do, however, use ‘one-time’ electronic transfers for a number of my larger payments. With these I can determine when the transfer occurs and can get a record of the transfer date, details, and tracking information–deprives the financial institution of deniability.

  7. Frogette, Randal… :-) LOL!

    Dear AT&T,

    Enclosed please find 1 quart of hand-churned butter in payment of last month’s DSL bill.



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