Tuesday, March 15, 2016

No One Home

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published March 16, 2016]  ©2016 

Like most people these days, we use on-line bill paying. We enter our bill pay information once, the company sends an email notification of the bill, we review it, and if it’s correct, we click Pay.

What we won’t do is Auto Bill Pay where you give a company permission to automatically debit your credit card or bank account every month. This is especially true if the company in question is Time Warner Cable, the water company, or anything that purports to be a health club. The first two are prone to errors (see my recent column about my neighbor’s $41,000 water bill after a meter reader transposed two digits); the latter is notorious for continuing to charge your credit card months after you’ve cancelled (or have expired). Further, our credit cards are compromised too often these days requiring replacement so an automatic debit is a recipe for disaster and/or having your water turned off. This is especially annoying in August.

What’s puzzling about Time Warner Cable’s billing site is that your only two options are either automatic bill pay (NEVER!) or having to re-input all of your bank or credit card information each and every month. I was hoping I had misunderstood this and contacted their Customer Chat line. Here is the verbatim transcript:

Alwin: Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable. At the end of our chat you will be given the option of taking a brief survey. My name is Alwin. How may I assist you?
Inga: I just typed in my question before. Can you see it?
Alwin: I am sorry for that.
Alwin: Please give me a moment while I look into your account for more information on that.
Inga: What is the point of asking the customer to write out their question for a chat then have the analyst not be able to see it?
Alwin: I apologize for the inconvenience.
Inga: OK the question AGAIN is: we want to pay our bill on line but previously the only option was automatic deduction without our being able to review the bill in advance. You guys make a lot of errors. The phone and utility companies allow you to put your bank account information on the site just once then approve the bill each month and click Pay. Does TW now have this service?
Alwin: Please give me a moment while I look into your account for more information on that.
Inga: Alwin, it has nothing to do with our account. I’m asking about TW Cable bill pay options. Can you get me someone who knows anything about this?
Alwin: Yes sure, I am just looking on your question.
Inga: Currently we pay our TW bill with a check. HOW DO WE PAY OUR BILL ONLINE BUT BE ABLE TO REVIEW IT FIRST?????
Alwin: You can go to MyServices and in that through PayXpress you can change your billing to Recurring Payment or also you can manually pay through PayXpress.
Inga: Yes, but my understanding of paying manually is that you have to put your bank account numbers and routing numbers in EVERY SINGLE TIME. Does TW Cable have a service where you can store your account information on-line, then preview the bill before paying it? Yes or no?
Alwin: No worries.
Inga: Um, what does that mean?
Alwin: You can change your settings to recurring payment in PayXpress and it will automatically debited from your bank.
Alwin: I would like you to know that as it will be automatically paid you will not be able to do that.
Inga: Every other company in America allows you to see the bill first if you want to. Please give me the address of TW corporate Headquarters.
Alwin: In that case you need to pay it on your own.
Inga: Please give me the address of TW Corporate Headquarters.
Alwin: Please give me a moment.
Alwin: Thank you for your patience.
Alwin: I can provide you with the phone number.
Alwin: That is 888-TWCABLE.
Inga: What use is that? Surely there are people who run this organization who go to an actual building. I NEED AN ADDRESS. Would you please go ask someone?
Alwin: We don't have the postal address handy with us.
Inga: Thanks, Alwin, for a total waste of time.

Alwin: Again, my name is Alwin. Thank you for chatting with Time Warner Cable. We value you as a customer and are here to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you would like to take a brief survey, please click on End Session and the survey will load.
Inga: You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to taking that survey.
Alwin: Analyst has closed chat and left the room.

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