We live in a world of convenience. We can take care of most things online while staying in our PJs and eating a tub of marshmallow fluff at 3 am. Talk about convenient! If I’m too lazy to walk 10 ft to my computer, I can even use my phone to do most of the same things that I can do on my computer. Mind you, I pay/paid for the computer, broadband internet service, iPhone, and the accompanying data plan. I pay this money to save myself the time, effort, and expense involved in driving somewhere to stand in line and in order to convince strangers that I need them to take my money.
So why in the world do companies charge customers “convenience” charges for paying online? I paid convenience charges to Apple, Time Warner, and Verizon so that I could conveniently pay bills online via my computer or phone. Then I go to pay my bills online and the bill collectors tell me that they’re going to conveniently charge me money so that I can give them my money. What??? How does that even make sense??? I’m already trying to pay you money for your services. That money is also supposed to cover the cost of running your company, including the cost of processing payments. If I’m paying you online, then that means that you’re not paying someone to stand somewhere and take my money. It means that you’re not paying someone to open an envelope and process my payment. It’s supposed to mean that the payment process is more secure and automatic. I’m doing you the favor by paying online, so no, your fee is not convenient for me. It reminds me of stores’ “free rewards programs”. They like to tell you on the receipt how much you saved by shopping with the reward card. In reality, they’re really just not overcharging you for stuff while they make extra money selling your shopping habit info to marketers.
When I try to pay my bill online and am presented with a “convenience” charge, it pisses me off. For this reason, I don’t have all of my bills set to autopay. I pay certain bills every month, otherwise, I’d be charged a monthly “convenience” charge. I can be pretty lazy (see my comment above about PJs and marshmallow fluff), but it’s worth $3 of my time to type three letters into Google, have a webpage pop up, type in my name and password, and click on “Pay bill now”. Over the course of a year, I save $36 for each of these companies with the crappy “convenience” charges. My friend, Cathy, and I discussed this recently. We agreed that if you’re paying more than the cost of a stamp, then you’re getting ripped off.