Posted this on Tumblr, Shrineheart
wanted me to post it here as well since it'd benefit many of my followers for sure.
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Yeah, you’re going to hear about it. Because I’m getting real sick and tired of it.
My job is to make you pay your bill.
Specifically, my job is to make people who are 45 days past due (1 month and a half) pay their bills.
I get paid to make you pay your bill.
I get paid when you pay your bill.
I get praised when your payment is huge.
And after going through nearly 850 calls per day, I have heard every excuse in the book and I have seen past due amounts ranging from $0.85 cents all the way up to $7,500.
At the end of the day, I always get off the phone and I find that my own friends have issues paying their bills for whatever reason. Because my mind goes both ‘Dumbass’ and ‘Let Me Teach You!’, I wind up educating folks while being pissed at them for letting themselves get behind. Depending on your behavior, my mind chooses one of these two as an ultimatum.
So today, I’m going to teach you about paying your bills, because there are a lot of you that are upset and depressed over the fact you feel like you’ll never catch up, and a lot of you don’t really know any ways out. So let me tell you how this works.
The Timing Of Your Consequence Is At Our Discretion.
Debt Age. Every company has it and it runs your life and it runs how much hassle we put you through. For my department, we specialize in folks 45 days or over, but we get many who are under 45 days. For anyone under 45 days, you are Gods to us. You may be past due a huge amount, but you have paid within a reasonable time frame and you have placed your priorities right. This makes is extremely happy, even happier than when we have to take a payment. People under 45 days will always get to bite as hard as they want to get what they want and chances are, we are going to give it to you with little hassle. You can have two more weeks no problem! You can pay partial amounts no problem! You can ask for anything without having to pay on the bill! No problem!
For those over 45 days, you’re on our time rules. As part of our protocol, we are required to get you under 45 days, because we want you to have the same leniency as our other awesome customers. Now, you may be over 45 days for whatever reason, but when you call in, regardless of whatever issue you have, if you have a Debt Age over 45 days, you’re going to either need to make a payment, or we have very little options to get you. When we pull your chain, it’s because ours gets pulled too. By making your payments and getting yourself under 45 days, you make my day easier, and you make your day easier. You’ve got a lighter wallet, but in return for having working services, it’s very worth it.
I’m excessively nice however. I will treat those who are 50 days or under with the same leniency as those under 45 days. But not every representative is me, and just because I’m nice about it doesn’t mean your problems are solved. It just means I am giving you a second chance, despite you having had 50 days to make a payment. I will gladly give you 2 more weeks to get it in.
For those 95+ Debt Age? You have no choice. If you cannot pay us, you cannot get a Payment Arrangement, and you go to our supervisors. They will not restore services until certain amounts or explicit instructions are given. You wind up being held by the hand. And don’t give us that “I’m a loyal customer!” “I’ve been with ___ for X years!” “But I need my phone!” These are all reasons as to why you must pay your bill on time or within a reasonable time frame. Because if you don’t, that doesn’t show us you’re loyal. That shows us you’re a leech. You want our service based on how long you’ve been with us, whether you’re paying us or not. You don’t want people to do that to you, you wouldn’t take that. Don’t do it to us, because it doesn’t help anybody. You pay your bill, we give you service. It’s a mutual agreement.
The Moral: The longer you wait to take care of the problem, the less likely the problem will be taken care of, and the more trouble you cause for yourself.
Your Excuses Don’t Matter
Just yesterday, my co-worker’s last call consisted of someone trying to make a payment arrangement. When the call was done, the customer forgot to hung up, and so my co-worker heard, “Wow, that fucking bitch bought that bullshit.” My co-worker’s reaction wasn’t rage or even offense taken personally. Instead, her response was, “She was only 6 days past due. If only she’d see all the other customer accounts I’ve had to deal with today.”
Now, this isn’t true for all excuses, but the excuses that are authentically excused are mostly those resulting in hospitalization, law-required content, and death.
But for everything else that you may consider a worthwhile excuse and you think it’ll gain you sympathy? It doesn’t matter. We care about you and your lifestyle, we really do. Because your ability to pay the bill matters to the company because long story short, if you can’t pay, you get no service and neither do we get service or money. Your existence ensures ours! It makes you severely important!
But your excuses do not matter. Like point 1, your ability to negotiate with us really devolves down into how long ago you last paid your bill and how often you’ve kept your promises in the event that you have made multiple arrangements and multiple payments. I hear so many people use the weather as an excuse as to why they can’t get to the store. For many customers, this is valid! But for others it is an excuse. You can tell me all you want that you pay in cash at the store, but when I check your payment history and the last 20 payments were made with the same bank account or no cash payment has ever been made? Yeah that doesn’t ride. Now granted, you may still get the payment arrangement: That doesn’t mean it’s because I fell for your bullshit.
With this in mind, just…stop talking. I will gladly engage with you on the phone, but if you are someone who goes round in circles constantly repeating why you can’t pay your bill and constantly trying to interrupt me when I’m trying to repeat the amount back to you to confirm it? Just stop. I have to tell you the total amount you owe. I don’t care how embarrassed or upset you are over it. It is required, just like it’s required for me to make sure I know the day your arrangement is being set for. I recently had a customer who kept going ‘Yeah yeah got it yeah sure yep absolutely’ while I was telling him the amount and the payment arrangement guidelines (Make sure you make a payment by this date so you don’t have to worry about service interruptions or a reconnection fee.). If you do that, all that tells me is you won’t pay your bill on time, you’re embarrassed and not willing to own up to your responsibilities, and you’re just fucking rude. You may have heard the guidelines multiple times. That’s not my fault. That’s every time you pay the bill. You don’t want to hear it? Stop going past due.
The Moral: Tell me what you need and I will help you get it done. Beating around the bush gets neither of us nowhere. Stop making excuses, start taking action.
The Size Of Your Payment Matters Based On Time Sensitivity
Like point 1, this one relies on time. The further you wait to pay your bill, the further you wait to make a payment, the less leeway we’re willing to give you for your payment arrangements. For some companies, this can heavily depend on how much you owe us. For others, it depends on how long you’ve waited to pay us. Sometimes it’s a case of both.
With this being said, make a payment when you call in. Even if you pay your bills on time all the time. If you call in and your current bill is available to view or more importantly, if you’re past due, pay on it. We don’t care how much. We would really love it if you could pay everything off and stay current because that makes everyone happy. But you know what else makes us happy? When you pay $1.00. While some companies do charge a fee to make a payment over a certain method, my company specifically doesn’t.
I absolutely love the customers that call in and admit that they can’t pay the full amount. When I hear them say, “But I can pay this ____ today.” or “But we can run my card and see if it’ll take for ____ amount.”, you are my favorite person. You show me you are responsible, respectful of both yourself and our company. You aretruly loyal because you understand it’s a Give and Take scenario. You show me you are willing to take whatever action necessary to get something done. I like people like that. I love those customers. I get many of them a day, and sometimes they’re 75 days past due. But they fess up their mistake, and they take action. That’s what’s important. I am willing to give them whatever they need because I know they will make good use of it.
You did good if you do that, and you deserve to be rewarded for doing so as anyone should.
But for the rest of you, stop procrastinating. Stop stalling. Stop beating around the bush and please stop putting obstacles in your way. If you are in a bad spot, don’t just wish everything stops and disappears. Do something about it so it does disappear.One of my co-workers had a guy sweet-talking on her, just coaxing her and saying, “All it takes is one button and you can make my past due disappear!” (He was $725.31 past due, for anyone wondering. Debt Age 82.)
My co-worker replied to me with, “You know what else takes one button to make it disappear? Pay Bill.”
The Moral: Swallow your pride, fess up, and take action on the issues when they begin. Allowing them to fester will damage your chances of fixing the problem and will only give you a bad image, and put you on bad terms with the services you use.
Where The Money Comes From Doesn’t Matter
This was a recent occurrence. I offered one of my buddies assistance and they wanted to decline because they know that many times, my source of income comes from overwhelmingly generous clients. It may not always be for one of my services or for work. This is what helps me get by, because it’s hard for me to come across money myself. I’m not being a hypocrite when I tell my customers that they need to pay their bill, because I know how severely important it is to pay the bills. I know how it feels to be on time for my bills, and I know how it feels to be way behind on bills. I’m technically homeless and I’m living in a friend’s house. My wife and I aren’t stable enough financially to live on our own. Trust me when I say I know what it feels like to fall too far behind.
But the point is, it doesn’t matter where the money comes from. I have had customers who have had their sugar daddies call in. I’ve had customers who’s parents have called in. I have had kids call in for their parents. I have had friends states away from the account holder call in trying to pay their bill as birthday gifts and pay backs and just out of sheer sympathy. No one wants to be behind on their bills. No one really deserves that and I run into people day in and day out who have had to scrape the bottom of the barrel until they’ve been forced to ask folks around them for money. It doesn’t matter how you get the money together, the point isyou took action to get the money. This is a HUGE deal to us, because again, it shows you’re taking action. If you can only pay $20 because your grandmother sent it to you to keep your phone on, I will take it and instantly give you a two week arrangement. In the long run, your action will determine if that two week arrangement will help you or hurt you. I hope it helps, I really do. But I know many who fall through.
The Moral: Again, swallow your pride and admit when you need help. Get it. Help yourself, help those around you, and help those trying to help you.
Your Payment Option DOES Matter
I hate talking to people. My job is all about talking to people and talking money issues with people, and I hate talking to people. I’m terrified of calling folks on the phone. I instantly check contact information for emails, faxes, automated phone systems, anything to prevent me from talking to someone who has thoughts and the capability of judging me. Essentially? I hate talking to me. But when I have no options left, I grab the phone and I will talk.
There are many ways to pay your bill in today’s world. Almost every service possible on the planet in the world has a series of ways to pay your bill. Just checking on four different bills I own show me a phone number, a system number, an email, a website, a fax, a mail-in, and a store option. For my company, we have 5 ways: IVR (Interactive Voice Response), Mail-In, Rep, Website, Store.
In order of how your bill should be paid? Website, IVR, Service Rep, Store, Mail-In. In that order. If you aren’t willing to sign up to Autopay and let them automatically take the payment out for whatever reason, this is the most effective means of how to pay your bill.
Does the company have a website? Can you register your account? Pay your bill then. Not only does the system keep track, but websites tend to be at the very least 15 minutes for your payment to post. 15 Minutes and the worry of having a past due bill or a bill at all is gone.
Does the company have a phone? Call it. Mute yourself (I do, god forbid anyone knows a human called in) and call. See if you get an IVR system. If so, chances are there’s an option to pay your bill there. Now, IVR systems can be iffy. I know some IVRs don’t tell you how much you owe, they just want you to put your info in and go. I don’t like these personally. Other IVRs that tell you how much you owe are godly. Sometimes the IVRs break or won’t take your card and you’re forced to use the next option, a service rep. Me! The wait time? 5 Minutes if not instant. 5 minutes and the worry of having a past due bill or a bill at all is gone.
Did the IVR break? If so, definitely get me. It’s free to pay with me for my company, and I get praise when I get payments. My co-workers have a DPC, Dollar Per Call. Our average is $30 per call. Right now we compete to see who can hit $1,000 first. I won last night since I took a payment of $1,159.09 from a very awesome customer. Even better, the wait time? 0. Our payments are taken immediately and the system updates immediately. 0 wait time for your stress about a bill to go away.
Don’t want to talk to me? That’s fine, go to a store if your service happens to sell a product. Even if your service doesn’t? Go to a store. MANY stores, for a small fee will pay your bills. This is a great way to get your bills paid if you don’t trust the internet or the telephone for some reason. Heck, I know some places that will discount products in their store if you pay your bills there. Pay your bill and you get $15 off your next purchase of $50? Fuck yes!
Don’t want to go to a store? You could mail-in, but trust me when I say this should be reserved for a last resort. Let me explain why.
For one, it’s an excuse. I have had customers call in to get a non-financial issue fixed. Afterwards, I am required to address their financial issues since that is my main department job title. And they’ll say, “It’s in the mail.” This could be true, if you literally just sent it out or put it in the mailbox as you talked to me. But most of the time, I find out it’s not. How on earth can I tell? Because, our company at least, has a registering system for the mail. The minute your envelope is scanned at the post office, we know about it through a special bar code. This means that while it make take 7 business days for your money to reach us and process your bank account, we have received confirmation from the post office that you have indeed paid, and our systems can tell us when that mail was scanned.
But it’s not that your post-office is a lie detector. The problem is that Mail-Ins are extremely risky. While you may think this is a great way to ‘buffer’ paying your bill when you can’t afford to? You’re risking your money period. If any mail gets intercepted, you’ve just lost out on whatever sheer amount you were trying to pay your bill, which results in your bill getting past due and you’re angry thinking the company lost your payment. When we never received it.
In addition, it wastes a lot of paper and it wastes a lot of good stamps you could be using for birthday cards. I know some companies offer no-stamp required envelopes, but then you have the risk factor of losing the money. You’re also generating a terrible habit of paying your bills late and using the excuse of ‘It’s in the mail’.
And what happens if you spend the money before the check reaches us? Now you’ve got an overdraft to deal with because you spent the money not remembering the check was in the mail.
But what if none of this phases you. What if you still are going with the excuse you paid it on time?
You didn’t. If you put the mailed check in any later than the 7 days it takes to get there, you are late according to us. If you mailed it out Monday and you think you’re safe from late fees because your bill is due Tuesday? You’re late, because it reaches us late (unless your company considers that post office bar code your savior.)
Now you have late fees.
The Moral: Pay Your Bill As Fast As Humanly Possible. It’s good for your credit report, it’s good for your reputation, it’s good for your peace of mind.
If there is any reason to pay your past due, it’s because you are creating a much larger problem than you think. If your issue in paying bills is because the amount is too high and therefore it becomes past due? It’s going to get worse.
For my company in particular, we charge a 5% late fee in nearly all 50 states. That means if you have a past due balance of $500.00, you will have a $25.00 late fee. And it stacks. And the more you keep holding it off, the worst it gets. I have seen a customer who’s bill is normally $85 a month, but they owed nearly $120 in late fees. That is an entire bill with extra services all on itself! I have seen worse. For every bill you forget to pay, a timer starts. And when it ends, a late fee is applied, dragging you further and further into debt.
The Moral: The longer you wait, the more you pay.
You Can Change Your Bill Date
Many folks don’t know this, but the majority of your money issues doesn’t come from the fact you don’t make enough. It comes from the fact that your bills take what you have before you have time to pull back. For many of my customers, the only reason they are past due is because they don’t have the money when it’s due. Mostly because we hit them between their pay periods. Our company has no way to keep track of how your employment works. So please, TELL US.
If you get paid the last week of the month, but you have 7 bills due on the 1st of the month, trust me when I say that you will run out of money and go into past due territory for at least 2-3 of them. There’s just no way around it. You can make a perfect amount of money per month and have your dream job, but you may still be past due because of the time you gotta pay. So change your bill date. Many companies allow it, and many allow it after you’re current or at least under $100.00. There will be a hiccup in your payments and charges, but trust me when I say it’s so worth it.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say I make $2,400 post-tax every month. Let’s say I have a house mortgage to pay, the internet, gas, electric and car. My house costs me $890 a month, my internet is $134 every month, my gas and electric are both $150 each and my car costs $240 a month. That means I have expenses of $1,564 a month total. That’s a lot of money, but more importantly, that’s too much money for one of my pay periods. I only get paid $1,200 per pay period. If all of my bills are due by the 4th of the month, and I get paid the 25th, holy shit I’m going to be behind. I’m only going to be able to pay 3 of the 5 bills I have. This means I need to prioritize which bill gets paid and I get into the age old “What do I need the most” scenario. The other two get payment arrangements. But if my other bills keep taking priority, it can quickly get out of hand and the late fees will eat me alive.
So let’s change my due date! I have 5 bills! Let’s take the 3 lowest amounts and move them to be due at the middle of the month. Let’s say Gas, Electric and Internet are now due on the 18th of the month. So now I have 2 bills due on the 4th and 3 bills due on the 18th.
See how this makes for a much better scenario? Sure, I still have $1,564 bucks to pay every month. But now, I only have to pay $434 with my first paycheck and $1,130 with my second paycheck. Why does it work even though you’re still paying the same amount?
Because now you have a buffer. Now you have $766 left over from your first paycheck to coast your ass on while you wait for the second paycheck. Now you have $70 left over from the second paycheck to coast back to the first paycheck. If all your bills had been set to the 4th, you would have had to save the entirety of your first paycheck and the second paycheck just to have the money ready to pay by the 4th. You have padding.
I don’t know about you, but it would frustrate the shit out of me if I was forced to save my entire first paycheck until the first week of the next month just to make sure my bills were paid. Two weeks I can’t spend ANYTHING? You get way too tempted to buy things, thinking “Oh we’ll I have enough.” MAKE yourself have enough by staggering the bills so that you are left over with padding after each paycheck for any emergencies, savings or unexpected purchases. It helps so much and hey, it keeps you from having to say “Well now I have to ask people for money!” (for those of you with too much pride.)
The Moral: Prioritize your bills based on your employment income and paychecks. Contact your bill companies immediately and ask to change. It will help you budget and help you avoid late payments in the future.
And there’s the long of it, ladies and gents.
The short of it? Everyone is late on bills at some point. It’s expected. But that doesn’t mean you have an excuse to stay late and you sure as hell don’t have to go through the stress of constantly being late. Avoid the stress, learn the techniques and ways of Past Due payments and functions, and pay your bills.
Taking 25-30 minutes out of your day to sit and really peel over the bills now will save you years of turmoil and stress in the future.
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