Add “change the name on your utility bills” to your post-breakup checklist or you’ll end up like reader Noah, who had to pay a $140 cable bill for three months of service his ex-girlfriend used after he moved out. Why? Because the bill was in his name, and if he didn’t pay up, it was his credit report that was going to suffer.
I broke up with my girlfriend a few months ago and moved out all my belongings from the apartment we shared. Being a shared apartment, we tried splitting things down the middle: she paid for the cat’s vet bills while I paid for the Time Warner internet bill — hell, that seems rational to me. The thing about signing up with an internet service provider is that they have your social security number and credit score all to their own devices in case you, say, decide to forgo paying the monthly bill.
After I moved out of my ex-girlfriend’s apartment I forgot to do one thing: change the name of the person attached to the Time Warner account (me). I figured that she would call up Time Warner and put her own name on the account since I don’t think I can just call up and put her name on it since I a) don’t know her SSN and b) didn’t want to talk to that crazy woman!
Three or so months went by and I hadn’t talked to my ex for the bulk of that time — beautiful since I really had nothing I wanted to say to her (except that I missed the cat). It was at this point where I received a phone call from Time Warner, threatening to turn off my cable tomorrow unless I paid the $140 worth of past-due bills (three months). WHAT?!
Turns out that my ex decided to NOT pay the Time Warner bills but, of course, still use the service since my name was attached to it. I told Time Warner the situation — that I have not lived there for over three months — and they simple responded, “Well, the account is under your name so it’s your credit score and you gotta pay it.” I think what ticked me off the most was that Time Warner was completely in the right and it was my responsibility to take my name off any account I had associated with that apartment. I guess I didn’t think my ex would actually go so far to do that to me but in retrospect I definitely had it coming.
I did end up paying the $140 in the end, but I learned some valuable lessons:
1) When you break up with someone whom you live with, be sure to have a dialogue about bills and whose name is attached to what so you don’t end up in a $nafu.
2) If you get a threatening phone call from a company, pay the bills IMMEDIATELY so your credit score won’t get hurt anymore than it has from the past due fines/bills/whatever.
3) Steal the cat when you walk out the door because you’ll always miss the cute way he cuddled on your lap on the couch. :(
Just some tips for those dealing with bills and breakups. And yes, I do have a new girlfriend now who doesn’t maliciously stick me with a $140 bill. And no, we don’t have a cat. Yet.
The same goes for roommates and even amicable splits. Bills in your name should be sent only to places you’re still living.