Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

ATT billing trick?

Could this be a new form of electronic short sizing?

Hmm…. how to describe it?  Ok, I pay my phone bill on time with a paper check.  The check is usually deposited by ATT within three or four days from being put in the mail.  But, on more than one occasion this year my payment check isn’t cashed.  They tell me it could be lost in the mail. Yeah right.

ATT then sends me a new bill with the past amount due plus late charges plus a new month’s amount due.  This bill arrives two weeks early, not at the normal billing time.

I also get a nasty letter in the same envelope saying my phone will be turned off and high additional charges will then be added in order to have it turned back on again if this bill is not paid within one week. So, I send them a brand new check for the new total amount. The new check includes last month’s amount, late charges, and new amount due.

The new check clears my bank within 3 or 4 days.  Of course it doesn’t get lost in the mail.  Mysteriously, the previous check shows up at ATT and is deposited the same day as the new check. This is a whole month after the original check was mailed.

A few days later, at the normal billing time, I get a new bill for some ridiculous amount due.  Like this.

Make do and mend 2015 058

Well, a person would think ATT would leave such a small amount until the next bill but no, there is a late charge of $6.60 if its not paid on time.  Plus I’ll be getting another one of those nasty letters threatening to turn off the phone if not paid.  So, I make out a new check for ten cents and mail it.  I’m hoping they won’t hold back that check too.

My mind is thinking like a confused senior.  I’m beginning to think ATT is deliberately doing this to seniors on a fixed income who refuse to get a “bundle” of services.  Hey, they gotta get more money from us somehow and withholding payment to collect late fees is easy to do. Just put the checks in a stack and let them set for a month.

So do you think this is a new form of “short sizing” of phone services.  It is possible. Has anyone else experienced this?


I am asking if anyone else had encountered this problem to see if I’m the only one who has had this happen. One person is simply an incident. Several people means it’s deliberate and the public should be made award of it.


6 comments on “ATT billing trick?

    August 30, 2015

    Dear Anita,
    1) Does your bill go to a PO Box or lockbox service? (has a different mailing address from the physical address…) These are clear across the country to shorten the payt received date, so they can charge late fees unless you allow extra mailing times.
    2) How do they know 2 wks ahead of your new bill that your old payt had not yet been received?? First, call your bank to find if your check has been cashed, when, by whom, & where… Then call the utility’s customer service & say that your check has been cashed, so why haven’t they credited it to your account on that day?? Make them do the explaining.
    3) If this seems to occur more than once, call on your State Utilities Commission about poor billing service… then call on your local state rep’s office helpline for voters’ problems…have THEM look into the matter on your behalf… Afterwards send them a thank-you note or email, if the legislator’s staff helped you out. You will stand out as an awesome grateful VOTER!!

    Hope this might help you & your readers…

    • Na Na
      August 30, 2015

      There is no physical office in my area. All payments go to a po box which also happens to be a lockbox service in another state. I always send the payment allowing enough time. I mail it the day I receive the bill. 30 days is more than enough time for mail to arrive anywhere in the country. I do check regularly for payments clearing the bank and customer service is the one who told me it must be lost in the mail. My bank statement clearly shows the two checks cashed on the same day. I do plan to complain to the Public Service Commission which is our state regulators.

      I was asking if anyone else had encountered this problem to see if I’m the only one who has had this happen. One person is simply an incident. Several people means it’s deliberate and people should be made award of it.

      • mem37814
        January 12, 2016

        I use bank draft to pay all my bills automatically each month thru my visa charge card which has “cash back” thru Bank of America. My bills are paid on time and I make money that is used to pay on my visa card. Last year I had $186.00 earned cash back money to pay on my visa charge card.

        • Anita
          January 12, 2016

          That’s a good idea if it works for you. I pay all my bills by paper check which works for me. I have more control over my money this way. No money comes out of my account until I’m ready for it to. Automatic payments don’t care if your deposit hasn’t gotten there yet.

  2. MsNaUnd
    August 30, 2015

    Well, this might be a tactic used against not only seniors but anyone refusing to get all modern and paying via e-banking. Here in Switzerland, the post office charges 2 chf (about 2 dollars) for any payment not made via e-banking….Not quite like living in a free world…. And my bank charges me for “maintenance costs”, each months and for about 7 chfs. In reality, these costs must be almost non existant as I do all my payments online, never get under a 1chf deposit and I just have one basic bank account. A few years ago, I changed my bank as the last one begun to charge me even higher “maintenance costs” as I don’t have 7’000 CHF on my bank account….. Being poor is expensive !

    • Na Na
      August 30, 2015

      TRUE! Being poor is very expensive! And time consuming. And extremely difficult if someone doesn’t have a computer and a cell phone. Our banks also have maintenance fees if our balance goes under a certain amount. I no longer have a savings account. The fees were eating up the interest earned because I had so little in it. I transferred the money to my checking so I could keep my balance barely above the minimum. Ooo, I like that saying, “not quite like living in a free world” may I use it?

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