Online Convenience Fee Is 63% Of Utility Bill

Reader Michael says:

I moved into a new apartment last month, and just received my first electric bill. It is run through a company called AUM Inc. (aum-inc.com), on behalf of my apartment complex. I went to pay the bill online (as I prefer to pay my bills) and I noticed something on the page. In fact, it’s on the page no less than 5 different times.

My bill: $11.84
“Online Convenience Fee”: $7.50

That means this convenience will cost me… 63% of my actual bill. In fact, for reference, if I don’t pay my bill until after it’s due, I’ll owe a total of $17.84. That means I can wait until the bill is past due, buy a stamp, and still pay $1.09 less than I would if I paid online today.

This means now I have to go buy stamps, as their kindly enclosed envelope does not include postage.

I’ve attached a screenshot of the payment page. I blacked out my name and apartment complex, I didn’t see anything else identifying on the page.

You know, it was actually on the page one more time, but we cropped it. Sorry.

Comments

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  1. Parting says:

    Ripoff

  2. sleze69 says:

    Well…atleast it’s not deceptive.

  3. SmellyGatto says:

    Ummmm, did anyone let this guy know that his bank can process an on-line payment or submit a check for free? Most do.

  4. pip41 says:

    That’s lame. If your bank has an online bill payment option, save yourself the $7.50 and the cost of stamps and use that instead.

  5. arch05 says:

    Billpay?

  6. Bladefist says:

    I can see them trying to make up the transaction fee of the credit card, but this is just pure corruptness.

  7. Snarkysnake says:

    Get a fucking stamp and tell them to shove that convenience fee up their ass. BOO FUCKING HOO that you have to buy stamps. I just got off the phone with the post office and they assured me that they will sell you more than one (I confirmed this with a supervisor)so that the next time you need to mail something, YOU WONT HAVE TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE AGAIN. Sweet Jesus, Is this what America (and the Consumerist) is coming to ?

  8. Corydon says:

    I’ve noticed that most utility companies seem to outsource their online bill payment to some other company (which often turns out to be pretty shady like this).

    The solution’s pretty easy…don’t use the utility’s service, use your bank’s online bill pay (like SmellyGatto said, it’s usually free, just as fast and a lot more convenient than going to half a dozen different websites to pay your bills.

  9. BlondeGrlz says:

    @SmellyGatto: @pip41: @arch05: Do you suppose now that you’ve said it three times, no one else will make the same suggestion? I bet you $1,000 they do.

  10. Carencey says:

    The “online convenience fee” is ridiculous…but so is expecting your payment return envelope to have postage prepaid. Has the OP never paid a bill by mail before?
    My guess is that the company has gotten fined previously for not adequately disclosing the fee, and now is posting it a gazillion times. I’ll even extend my guess to say that the company has gotten fined previously AND the ridiculous 7.50 is now covering the cost of said fine.

  11. hubris says:

    @blondegrlz: Are you kidding? The internet would go down in flames if people only mentioned a solution once. Everyone wants to get in on the action.

  12. ? graffiksguru says:

    @arch05: ding @pip41: ding @SmellyGatto: ding
    thats what i was thinking

  13. Pylon83 says:

    @Snarkysnake:
    Have you been to a US Post Office lately, or ever? I’d rather pay a $1000 convenience fee, or have a lobotomy for that matter, before setting foot in a Post Office. The lines are long, the employees are rude, incompetent and uncaring, and stamps taste bad. I use online bill pay from B of A for everything. Post Offices are for fools.

  14. SmellyGatto says:

    @blondegrlz:

    as a bonus, with my online bill pay you can write a note in the memo-line, I take this as an opportunity to make fun of the company I am paying.

  15. ? graffiksguru says:

    @blondegrlz: you win!

  16. Carencey says:

    @blondegrlz:
    Heaven forbid that posters have the same opinion, and post it in a location where comments take a few minutes to show up.

  17. PirateSmurf says:

    This story is a joke, the convenience fee is $7.50 not 63% its a flat rate, and if he pays after the due date it adds a late fee. So what was the point of this post other then to whine about a convenience and late fee?
    Yes the sky is blue there is no reason to cry because you want it to be green.

  18. IphtashuFitz says:

    @Pylon83: I guess it depends where you live. The post offices near me, ranging from small town ones to large city ones, have usually been decent. The workers in the smaller ones seem to be much more polite since they tend to know most of the patrons, but even in a big regional hub (Woburn, MA) the workers have been relatively polite. But even beyond that, most of them now have vending machines so you can buy stamps without having to actually talk to anybody. The Woburn office also has an automated system for shipping packages that’s available 24/7 so I can do all my mailing at 3am if I want and never see a postal employee.

  19. unklegwar says:

    Wait, is this Ticketmaster? Home of the $10 convenience fee on a $25 ticket?

  20. courtarro says:

    My last two natural gas providers (Georgia Natural Gas and Infinite Energy) both charge about $5 to pay your bill online in any form, either with a credit card or with a bank transfer. Since I can even pay my rent online, my gas bill is the only reason I still write any paper checks. (A $0.41 stamp) < ($5 online fee).

    What’s stupid is that it costs more to support a mail-in check system. They have to pay someone to open the envelope, sort the checks, and either scan them or get them processed at a bank. I refuse to pay an extra $5 to make their job easier for them.

  21. PirateSmurf says:

    @Pylon83: here is an option you can buy stamps at your supermarket. Plus you can put a note with the cash for a book of stamps in your mailbox. Or you can even order them online!!
    In fact you can send packages, order shipping supplies, labels and ship things and schedule a pick up without even going to the post office, :)

  22. Saboth says:

    Used to be, companies would give you small discounts or something for paying online. I mean, you ARE saving them printing materials, inserting labor and postage…in addition to processors that have to open the mail, process the paperwork, file it, etc. Now, they are starting to attempt to charge YOU for the convenience of paying them quickly and efficiently. Lame.

  23. Pylon83 says:

    @IphtashuFitz:
    No. Post Offices are the root of all evil. Period. No good can come from a post office. Their automated machines steal your soul. It’s just a trick they use to collect more souls. STAY AWAY FROM POST OFFICES!

  24. bravo369 says:

    i just paid my credit card online and noticed a $15 convenience fee if want the payment posted that day. It’s free if you select a date in the future. I guess they want to catch all the people who forgot to pay and want to pay it the day it’s due. seriously, being charged to give them money. will this fee mania never end?

  25. RGISMYFAVORITECANADIANMORMON says:

    @Snarkysnake: Brava, Snarky.

    To Reader Michael:
    “This means now I have to go buy stamps, as their kindly enclosed envelope does not include postage.”

    Utility: Duh, no postage. They make money when you are too lazy to buy a stamp.

    Magazine cards: Duh, postage-paid. They make money when you return your card quickly and easily.

    Duh. (I just wanted to add one more for emphasis.)

  26. Pylon83 says:

    @PirateSmurf:
    See my part about where stamps taste bad. I believe that bad taste is the Post Office trying to poison you. Online Bill Pay does not try to poison you. Clearly the OP is simply trying to not A) have his soul stolen, and B)not to get poisoned. In my opinion, $7.50 is a small price to pay to keep your soul and not be poisoned.

  27. warf0x0r says:

    One of my student loan companies charges $5 to make a payment by phone or online. I’m going to send them a check to pay it off and I have to request a coupon book in order to pay them without a fee.

    Lame.

  28. Carencey says:

    @PirateSmurf:
    and these days you don’t even have to lick most of them!

    (ooh, context is my friend.)

  29. BlondeGrlz says:

    @Carencey: Heaven forbid you have a sense of humor about anything.

  30. RGISMYFAVORITECANADIANMORMON says:

    @Pylon83: Ok, if you’re still licking stamps, I’m afraid that post office you’ve been visiting is actually a den of drug dealing! That explains all of the bad attitudes and slow service!! I’m so glad I figured this out for you.

    Seriously though – self-adhesive stamps are all the rage now. When was the last time you bought stamps?

  31. Carencey says:

    @Carencey: shoulda aimed that at Pylon83 too, sorry.

  32. Beerad says:

    @Snarkysnake: Wrong side of the bed this morning?

    As others have suggested, get set with electronic checks through your bank — should just be a matter of setting up online access and filling in the payee information (assuming you have a checking account). No inane convenience fee, no trying to figure out where you left your checkbook and stamps from the last time you used them. Yeah, paying by CC would be convenient, but it’s not $7.50 convenient.

  33. backbroken says:

    I guess he will feel better next month when the $7.50 is only 3.5% of his total bill.

  34. SaveMeJeebus says:

    I like how the headline makes you think that the charge is 63% of any bill. It was just his first month’s prorated bill. I’m sure when the next bill for $300 rolls in the percentage will change to 5% or so and not be so sensationalized.

  35. LiC says:

    So don’t pay online. I like all the $7.50 notices, haha, I’ll have to show that to my boss. CC charging services online can actually get to be pretty expensive, and if online bill paying isn’t a popular option in your area then don’t expect the fee to go down anytime soon.

  36. megan9039 says:

    Why doesn’t he just buy the postage on the web from the USPS and print it on the envelope and call it a day? No extra fees and no hassle at the B&M location.

  37. Carencey says:

    @blondegrlz: Not at all. That was funny right there.

  38. Beerad says:

    @blondegrlz: @omerhi:

    Yes, I think there should be a new rule that a good suggestion is only posted once. That way it can be a fun game where if the OP can’t find the hidden good advice in the 200 comments of irrelevant chatter and OP-bashing, she doesn’t deserve a solution to the problem.

    I, for one, would prefer that lots and lots of people endorse a suggested plan of action rather than one anonymous internet dingbat. But that’s just me.

  39. Pylon83 says:

    @RGISMYFAVORITECANADIANMORMON:
    I refuse to buy stamps. The self adhesive stamps are just like the automated machines: They steal your soul. I hate the Post Office (generally) with the Fury of 10,000 Suns. That is, unless of course they are the cheapest place for me to ship packages. Then I love the post office.

  40. RGISMYFAVORITECANADIANMORMON says:

    @backbroken:

    HYSTERICAL!! Well Played, backbroken…

  41. rjhiggins says:

    @Saboth: Don’t underestimate the cost of online bill-paying. These outside services will charge a flat fee (or a percentage) for each transaction, plus the credit-card fee (also a percentage of the amount). It can add up to quite a bit of money. Not $7.50, of course — that’s just a way to gouge you a little more — but still significant for a smaller operation.

    Paying a minimum-wage clerk to process payments by hand really isn’t that expensive on a relatively small scale. So you’re not doing them any favors by paying online.

  42. davere says:

    My local power company has a $5 fee if you pay online with a credit card, but no fee if you pay online with a check. It’s a bit annoying because I have to go grab the checks and it involves more numbers, but hey, I’m not going to give them more money than I have to.

  43. PeteyNice says:

    Don’t forget that the Post Office is jacking up the rate on stamps to $0.42 in May. With the way the USPS is raising rates Forever Stamps will outperform the stock market pretty soon.

  44. Snarkysnake says:

    @Beerad:

    “Wrong side of the bed this morning?”

    Nah, I’m always this way. You did remind me that ING has a paperless checking account called “Electric Orange ” ( Great name for a rock band,BTW). It will send a check first class mail for no fee whatsoever. You just fill it in online and never see it again until the happy recipient uses it to buy dope and booze (or electricity). It has saved me mucho $$ in postage and hassle . Also makes a good “fuck you” for Paypal when I buy something on Ebay.Best part- They won’t issue a check if the money is not in there.Never an overdraft fee,or any fees that I am aware of.

  45. Southern says:

    Processing Credit Card transactions are NOT free. Most VISA/Mastercard processors charge the company a percentage (like 2.5%) of each sale — meaning if your Utility Bill is $200, and pay by Credit Card, they’re probably going to “lose” at LEAST $5.00 to the Visa/Mastercard company just for YOUR convenience.

    Buy yourself some self-adhesive stamps at a grocery store (or out of one of the MACHINES at the post office, there’s rarely a line for those), put a check/money order in the envelope and slap a stamp on it. You’ll save money.

    Alternately, look at the “Direct Debit” tab; those are -usually- FREE.

  46. Pylon83 says:

    @Snarkysnake:
    Precisely. Online bill pay (having your bank send checks) is infinitely superior to using the Post Office and their soul-stealing products.

  47. Ciao_Bambina says:

    If you really are afraid of the Blue Meanies at the USPS, they now have a new fangled doo-dad called the (tah dah!) “Forever Stamp”, which will be valid for mailing a first class, one ounce letter no matter how much the cost goes up.

    Go to the post office (if you dare!), the supermarket, or online, buy about a zillion of ‘em (you can bequeath them to your heirs, if necessary) and you’ll never want for stamps again. And they’re self-adhesive; no need to put your tongue on them. Unless you want to. I don’t want to know.

    Oh, yeah, and do it now before first class postage goes up a penny from $0.41 to $0.42 on May 12, 2008!

  48. clearcut says:

    You can buy stamps online and the post office will deliver them at no additional charge (beyond your immortal soul that is).

  49. catskyfire says:

    Not everyone gets free online bill pay. I’m not rich enough for my bank to give it to me for free. I do use stamps, but I really wish my utilities would offer a free online payment. Heck, I’d be happy to take online billing with it. Then the small cost of credit card processing is offset by the savings on mailing and hand processing.

    Heck, even with paper mailing, the savings on hand processing of the checks would still be there.

  50. BlondeGrlz says:

    @clearcut: The PO website charges my business $1.00 to ship the stamps. But my post office has no parking, so $1.00 is worth it.

  51. PeteyNice says:

    @clearcut: Not so! USPS charges a $1.00 handling fee for all online stamp orders.

    @catskyfire: You need a better bank then. Almost every major national/regional bank gives free online bill pay with their free checking accounts.

  52. Southern says:

    @catskyfire: You could always switch banks if it’s that important to you, Catsky. There are many banks out there that will not only give you free bill pay but will ALSO give you free checks and no “monthly account fees” if you have direct deposit.

  53. spamtasticus says:

    I write enterprise software for many companies. Billing is one of the things I normaly modernize for them. Sending out paper bills and receiving paper payments costs the company a TON of money. Once my software is up all that is left is to convince the customers to pay online and accept mailed pdf bills. I always recommend that they give their customers an incentive of $X (how much depends on their proffit margin) to switch to paperless on their next bill/payment. Once 3 months have gone by I have them send out a notice to all the people that switched to paperless thanking them for making a transition that was both better for them, the company and the enviroment and that paper bills/payments will no longer be accepted unless there is a specific request to do so it will cost them $X (same ammount given to them before) to pay the “old” way. The people that never switched are sent a slightly different letter stating that they went through tremedous expense (custome software is not cheap and I have a motorcycle racing addiction to support) to incorporate paperless billing/payment and that they will allow them to continue the old way but with the new fee. The responce to this has always been fantastic.

  54. nidolke says:

    Ah, shitty ol’ AUM. Our apartment complex uses them. I feel so outdated as I write my monthly check for them.

  55. DrGirlfriend says:

    Not seeing the forest for the trees, guys? All whining baout stamps aside, the idea here is that they are charging 7 friggin’ 50 for paying a bill online.

    Also, stamps are sold in many other places other than post offices. If you have Wells Fargo in your area, you can buy them at your ATM’s. They only sell the generic Forever Stamp, though, so if you’re nerdy enough to want a sheet of Star Wars stamps, for example, or a bridezilla who can only send her wedding invitations using the Love Stamp, you will need to trudge into your neighborhood PO for that.

  56. NotATool says:

    @Pylon83: Stamps by Mail. $1 convenience fee < your $1000 limit of pain.

    Also, dude, stop licking the stamps. They’re self-adhesive now so they don’t taste good like they used to.

  57. Ariel.Sanders says:

    Ha, I would so leave that company so fast , Irrespective of the cost! SO don’t eliminate yourself and job being a douche! “People Eliminate themselves”, so you don’t have too.@spamtasticus:

  58. Ariel.Sanders says:

    @Snarkysnake: lol@ “Booze and Dope”

    Me tinks I’m in Love With You!

  59. weakdome says:

    I like how he said it’s posted “no less than five times”, yet there are only four arrows on the screenshot.
    S/He can read, and s/he can calculate percentages, but s/he can’t count?

  60. ju_ju_eyeball says:

    @Snarkysnake: Does anybody understand the concept of this website. I does not matter if this person is inconvienced and have to leave his apartment to go buy stamps. The question is: In this electronic age, is it good customer service to charge your customer a convience fee for paying online? I assure you that it does not cost the utility company any more than a few pennies a transaction to accept online payments, and they get their money faster, without fear of a bounced check. In other words, it is an even split, both are getting a convience, so why charge the customer? I’ll tell you why, PURE PROFIT.

  61. Southern says:

    @weakdome: “u know, it was actually on the page one more time, but we cropped it. Sorry.”

  62. BlondeGrlz says:

    @weakdome: You can count but can you read?
    You know, it was actually on the page one more time, but we cropped it. Sorry.

  63. Southern says:

    @Ariel.Sanders: He doesn’t have a choice, other than to move out of the apartment complex. All things being equal, this one thing wouldn’t warrant that in my book. Now, if I couldn’t get (fast) Cable Internet or 5+MB DSL, I’d be OUTTA there! :)

  64. jimv2000 says:

    It’s not 63%, it’s $7.50. It would be $7.50 if you had a $1 or $1000 bill.

  65. Hanke says:

    @Pylon83: You need to go to a post office in a different zip code. I’ve had no such problems, and you can also buy stamps alkmost anywhere. My bank’s ATM machine can dispense them as a sheet of 20, the supermarket will sell me a roll or a sheet of 20, all at face value. And Costco will sell you a roll for 25 cents less than face value.

    What makes me sad, is I bought a roll in December anticipating running out of my old roll. Now I need to buy more 1c stamps because the rate increase beat me.

  66. weakdome says:

    haha… nope… I just looked at the arrows and laughed.
    At least I didn’t tell him to use billpay :)

  67. Hanke says:

    @Pylon83: Right. Becase the bank’s check doesn’t go in the mail, it is transported there by magical faries.

  68. razremytuxbuddy says:

    This customer should check with the state’s public utility commission. This billing surcharge may or may not be technically legal, but it seems like an unfair, excessive penalty to pay for the privilege of paying for plain old utility service. I know in my state, the commission would want to know about it. I checked out the AUM, Inc. website, and I’m not impressed.

  69. qwickone says:

    @Pylon83: that’s why i buy my stamps online. It costs an extra $1, but it’s sooo worth it. Or go to CVS. They sell stamps too (with no convenience charge).

  70. Southern says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: I assure you that it does not cost the utility company any more than a few pennies a transaction to accept online payments,

    And I would almost assure you that you are incorrect. A very large company (like AMAZON, eBay, Buy.Com, etc) will probably get a better VISA processing rate, but a small company will pay through the nose — Probably a minimum of 2% for internet transactions.

    This is how Visa/Mastercard makes their money; keep in mind THEY don’t get your monthly interest payments; those go to the bank or issuer that gave you the card.

  71. BlondeGrlz says:

    @weakdome: :) Sense of humor FTW!

  72. BugMeNot2 says:

    To all those advocating using the stamp machines at the post office, I have a question. Does your post office still have the stamp machines? As of 3 weeks ago, I had visited 6 post offices in a 75 mile radius, and they all had removed, or were in the process of removing, their stamp machines.

    Just curious if that’s a local phenomenon, or what.

  73. @Snarkysnake: honestly.

    Not to mention the bill was $11.84. Otherwise this story wouldn’t have had such a sensational headline.

  74. KogeLiz says:

    @backbroken: exactly!

  75. Saboth says:

    @jimv2000:

    It is 63% of that bill.

    I recall taking $10 out of a bank ATM once (that wasn’t my bank). They charged me $2.50 (this was when they offered amounts less than $20). I was like “So…apparently it is a 25% fee to take out $10?” Of course I didn’t expect my own bank to charge me for the transaction fee too…so it was more like 50% in fees.

  76. Saboth says:

    @Southern:
    Thats for credit card transactions. I am paying online through my checking account…so it shouldn’t cost them but pennies.

  77. orielbean says:

    Use your own checking account Bill Pay feature to pay the bill. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. And if the utility says they didn’t get the money, the bank will fight on your behalf to fix it and prove you paid on time. It’s fucking awesome. End of story.

  78. clevershark says:

    I can’t figure out why the post office gets such a bad rap. Granted, if it’s the office that’s located in the center of a city that’s not doing so well it will suck, but then you could go to a smaller neighborhood PO. I always did when I lived in the US, never had a problem with it. And one of these neighborhood POs was in Newark.

  79. PirateSmurf says:

    @Pylon83: The Orig Poster is just crying tears of “unfairness. The post is a big time joke, the &.50 fee is not based on a percentage of the bill it is a flat rate, plus he is crying about paying extra $ if he pays late?
    Stamps are so damn easy to get, if you go buy groceries then you can pick up stamps at the same time, for free!!! plus they usually have 1cent or 2 cent (depending on recent rate increases)stamps as well. The post office isnt of the Devil, they just work for the Devil (AKA President Dubbya)

    @Carencey: You are correct. Stamps havent been lickable for I dont know how many years now.

  80. MercuryPDX says:

    Just to ensure Blondegrlz gets her grand:

    You can go to the post office and buy a roll of forever stamps. You don’t have to add the 2 and 4 cent stamps anymore. :)

    And for those of you who hate the post office, there are other places to buy these stamps. I can get them from a vending machine at the Walmart (and not have to show a reciept!), from the courtesy desk at the grocery store, and the ATM at my bank.

  81. Southern says:

    @Saboth: Thats for credit card transactions. I am paying online through my checking account…so it shouldn’t cost them but pennies.

    Now that I agree with, and think I mentioned above in reference to the “Direct Debit” tab — that SHOULD be free, as it doesn’t cost them anything to process a EFT (or it’s next to nothing, anyway). Credit Cards, on the other hand, are a whole different ball of wax. :)

  82. slowreader says:

    I think he should just be happy his electric bill is only $11.84/mo. I used to live in a 1 bdrm apartment and hardly ran anything and was still shelling out a min of $40 to PG&E every month.

  83. PirateSmurf says:

    @slowreader: his bill was a prorated one most likely

  84. Pylon83 says:

    @PirateSmurf:
    See note above. Self Adhesive stamps are SOUL STEALER’S!

  85. fuzzycuffs says:

    Yeah, my utility company charges $2.10 or something because it’s a Western Union fee. :p

    Wish there was a way to do adaptive free bill pay instead of specific amounts all the time.

  86. overbysara says:

    convenience fees are bullshit.

  87. PirateSmurf says:

    @Pylon83: What if you ARE a soul collector though?

  88. howie_in_az says:

    Wait, wasn’t AUM the Japanese cult that orchestrated the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo (among other places)?

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  89. nobodygrrl says:

    My old complex switched to AUM and I was horrified to see that they charged a $3.50 “Admin Fee” for the pleasure of being billed. That was about 50% of my total water/gas/sewer bill. I called to complain and they said “that’s our deal with the landlord.” I think that landlords get kickbacks as part of the deal, because AUM allegedly is just passing on the landlord’s cost to the tenants. I’ll never understand why landlords in LA don’t just include common utilities (water, sewer, trash) in the rent.

  90. Tonguetied says:

    Well you can’t say that you weren’t aware of it. They seem to have bent over backwards to make it very clear that there is a fee. You might not like it but they are being very open about it. Much better than discovering it after the fact.

  91. crazyinjun says:

    Aum is usually for water and sewer, so when your bill is 10 bucks and you’re paying $7.50, it’s terrible, they must have just upped it, it was $10 bucks, and you can’t “overpay” to keep a balance with them and avoid the fees.

    So, what I used to do was send them a check for $100 and sit back and wait. Man, I really hate writing checks for less than $20.

  92. Hawk07 says:

    I received a bill from a well known company which will remain nameless but has been on the Consumerist a number of times telling me I owe them an insurance premium of 12 cents for the month. They paid greater than 30 cents just for postage.

  93. crazyinjun says:

    @nobodygrrl: I think the kickback is a bit of BS they were feeding you, not that I’m doubting they get something out of it, but my apartment company just switched to real billing, so I get a bill each month with my rent and water and sewer on it and it’s way cheaper than AUM was. Weird.

  94. tedyc03 says:

    It looks me to me like this company is violating their terms with Mastercard, Visa and anyone else from whom they process. Convenience fees are outlawed in the contracts. They should mail this screenshot off to the Visa/Mastercard people with a complaint and watch these f*ckers get their a$$es kicked.

  95. hexychick says:

    @SmellyGatto: My water utility company charges $5 to process through their website. My bank may take up to 10 business days to process but at least it’s free.

  96. Orngbliss says:

    The real thing that shocked me was not the convenience fee, but the total on the utility bill!!!! $11.84!!! Thanks to good ‘ol SDG&E, my utility bill was $191 last month!!!
    When your bill is less than $20 a month, even after the “convenience fee”, you have no room to complain! JK.

  97. smoothtom says:

    Weird … Waste Management actually did the opposite last year, charging me a fee for paper invoices, unless I agreed to get rid of the paper invoice and go with automatic bill payment. My poor 85-year-old neighbor, who is spry and sharp but does not own a computer, was obviously screwed over in this deal.

  98. Orngbliss says:

    @tedyc03: Actually, convenience fees are not outlawed by Visa/Mastercard. Just transaction fees and minimum purchase requirements.

  99. trujunglist says:

    I had AUM for a while. I hate that these apt complexes do that crap. For a while, the convenience fee was like 3 bucks, then it went to 5. Now I see it’s at 7.50, which is fucking crap. 3 bucks is already too much.

  100. scoosdad says:

    @PirateSmurf: Yeah, that fee wouldn’t even reach 6-point-3 percent of my electric bill, let alone 63%. Agreed, this is a non-story due to the fact that the OP sits in the dark in his new apartment all the time and somehow manages to use eleven bucks worth of electricity a month so of course a $7.50 fee on top of that is a huge chunk of his payment.

    Buy a book of stamps at the local chain supermarket a couple times a year, and mail payment in.

  101. Peeved Guy says:

    @backbroken:
    @SaveMeJeebus:

    Thank you both for pointing out the obvious. I weep because it took so long for someone to mention that.

  102. hannahlin says:

    I wonder where I have to move to have an $11 electric payment.

  103. rellog says:

    Next is that they will only have online bill viewing. And you will have to print out your own copy to mail in with your payment…. nice. Can anyone say “price gouging”?

  104. Kryndis says:

    I’d be far more interested in the Consumerist tracikng down exactly what the BS $1.00 fee for online stamp orders go to. I’m a bit skeptical that it somehow costs them a dollar to relay a note to my carrier to stick a sheet of stamps in my mailbox.

  105. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t think the OP or Consumerist actually thought it would always be 63% of the bill? Yes, it’s a flat fee but it does happen to be 63% of the OP’s bill this time.

    All whining about stamps aside, the idea here is that they are charging 7 friggin’ 50 for paying a bill online.
    @DrGirlfriend: You have to wonder who’s actually using it? Even if you have to pay for bill payment through your bank it’s probably less than that.

  106. dorkins says:

    The solution is simple. USE MORE ELECTRICITY!!! That’ll push the percentage down.

  107. forgottenpassword says:

    $7.50 IS an outrageous fee for that. The ones I have seen for utility bills are typically $1-$3 tops.

    I REFUSE to pay any bill online if there is some fee to do so (unless I am in a serious bind where I HAVE to or I will incur some late fee…. which is a VERY rare circumstance for me). My nat.gas & electricity bill does this & I mail out a check to pay them. MY water bill does not do this… so I pay THAT online.

    Btw…. I get my stamps free by getting them off of envelopes that the PO forgot to cancell as they went thru the mail or by customers at my work who intended to pay their bill thru the mail (and put a new stamp on the envelope), but decided to drop them off by hand instead. Waste not want not!

  108. truthbuddy says:

    @Snarkysnake: your an ass, if you can’t see what this post is all about.

  109. Southern says:

    @Kryndis: I’m a bit skeptical that it somehow costs them a dollar to relay a note to my carrier to stick a sheet of stamps in my mailbox.

    Back when they first started selling stamps on their website, they had free delivery. Shortly after they added the $1 fee, I asked our local postmaster why the fee was imposed, and was told that because there are several items on the website that are completely fee (check out the Priority Mail “boxes”, where you can have up to 500 small priority mail boxes sent to your house/business), some people were ordering them by the hundred and having them delivered to false addresses, people that didn’t want them, etc..

    So they instituted a $1 “Flat rate” charge on the website and only allow delivery to the Registered Billing Address on the credit card to help combat that type of misuse.

    Hope that answers the question. :)

  110. Buran says:

    @Southern: Who would give away postage to strangers? Stamps aren’t free.

  111. MMD says:

    @Orngbliss: But doesn’t “convenience fee” = “transaction fee”?

  112. jenl1625 says:

    @PirateSmurf: The point of the story is that this company charges $7.50 (not just a buck or two) for the “privilege” of using their online bill-pay. I thought it was bad a few years ago when my car loan company wanted $5.00 for processing an over-the-phone payment.

    Yes, there are ways around it. But still, doesn’t an outrageous charge like $7.50 (per month if you used it every month) deserve SOME contempt?

  113. Southern says:

    @Buran: They don’t give away the postage, Buran — you still have to pay face value for the stamps.

    Many of their PACKING supplies, though, ARE free. Many of their flat-rate Boxes, Envelopes, Express Mail stickers, Forms & Labels — THOSE are all free. You can either drive into your local Post Office and they’ll give them to you (for free), or you can have them delivered.

    Before they instituted the the $1 fee, people would just go to the website, order hundreds of envelopes, boxes, and whatever else was “free” and then put someone else’s address in the “Deliver To” field.

    So (according to my postmaster, anyway), they added a cursory $1 charge, payable ONLY by credit card, so that they can validate the shipping address, and help prevent people from just going online and telling the USPS to “Deliver 500 Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes” to some made up address (or the address of someone you’re trying to piss off).

  114. PirateSmurf says:

    @forgottenpassword: I wouldnt spread that around, I believe that is a federal offense, best to keep stuff like that hush hush when the Govt is involved.

  115. PirateSmurf says:

    @jenl1625: not when most companies change convience fees to process pmts. Crying about it and late charges because he has to send it in the mail using a stamp when bill notifications usually come 2-3 weeks before they are due.
    Yeah, contempt…

  116. Unnamed Source says:

    @unklegwar: except that with Ticketmaster the convenience fee isn’t really for a convenience. Since most venues have bought into Ticketmaster’s monopolistic tactics the fee should just be re-labeled the “screw you” fee.

  117. Giolon says:

    I have a similar situation with my apartment complex’s online utility bill payment service (and my car loan).

    The solution? My Bank of America checking account has free online bill payments. I process all my online payments through there w/o any retarded convenience fee.

  118. D-Bo says:
  119. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: Understand which concept of which website? You have [insert grammatical term] in that sentence. It might be a dangling participle which could fall and hit someone.

  120. ericschwartz says:

    Unfortunately I had the experience of having to deal with AUM. In 2007 I moved into an apartment complex that used AUM as their third party utility billing company. Because the apartment complex was the actual client it was very difficult working with AUM.

    I had to contact them because of billing errors and that told me that I had to contact my apartment manager because that was the information they received.

    What was even worse is that when I moved out, I was expecting my full security deposit back, however the apartment complex took a portion of those funds to pay my last utility bill instead of mailing it to me.

    My advice: Stay clear of AUM.

  121. VeritasNoir says:

    I use them too. Horrible!!!!

  122. parad0x360 says:

    @Snarkysnake: you are missing the point and being an ass at the same time.

    its CHEAPER for the company to receive and online payment. digital money transfers cost $0.00 and you also dont have to pay someone to sort the mail, open the mail and enter the information into the system.

    its faster and cheaper for the damn company to get money via the internet so they are idiots for charging this fee. they should want people to pay via the net not try to make them stop.

  123. bobpence says:

    If this is the biggest hassle the OP has with a move, he should thank whatever deity he can.

  124. Bruce says:

    To the original poster: Look on the back of your utility bill and the odds are that they list several different ways to pay your bill.

    The electric company that services my region has drop boxes in a chain of food stores and their own salaried magical fairies empty the boxes 6 days a week by 7PM. They include a return envelope in with my bill and if I misplaced it, there is a stack of envelopes on top of the drop box for their customers to use.

    As long as the payment is in the box by 7PM by the due date, it’s considered paid on time. I go to that food store at least 4 times a month anyways, no problems there.

    I don’t have to worry about ripoff surcharges, stamps, U.S. Post Orifaces, banks forgetting to pay my bill on time or anything like that.

  125. Zwitterion says:

    To Southern:

    C’mon. Even if Visa/MC is charging said electric company 2.5% of the actual transaction, who gives? Please take into account the HUGE profit most electric companies are making. I’m sure they make more than enough money on just profit alone. Having online bill pay that is FREE would be better used as a marketing tool, rather than one that runs customers off. Now they are making your life inconvenient, and I’m sure all our time is valuable… And who wants to go by the post office, if you really, really don’t have to?

    Paying for something like this is just pure greed. At one time I thought credit cards were accepted for the customers convenience, now it is the opposite.

  126. fedupofrental says:

    My property also uses them (AUM) and these guys are shady. Due to the way they do business, you will never get an answer as to why your monthly bill went up or down. Apartment managers send you to AUM and AUM has a simple answer – “you owe a portion of the property’s total usage”.
    So if someone were to leave their water running by mistake, you will be paying for them…its completely ridiculous.
    I am sure a class-action against them is in order due to totally deceiving tactics. They never send their statements a couple weeks in advance of your deadline increasing the chances of a late payment. They do not seem to have a concept of ‘post-marked by’ either. Its just money making tactics.