Last week, we told you how Anthem Blue Cross of California had decided it no longer wants to take credit card payments and will soon start charging $15 “convenience” fees for those still wishing to pay by plastic. But now that the California Attorney General is looking into the matter, Anthem has put that plan on hold.
The AG’s office is looking into whether or not Anthem’s convenience fee would violate a state law that forbids charging consumers more if they pay by credit card.
But, because making a credit card payment to Anthem would require actually calling the company up and giving your information to a CSR, the insurance giant believes that the $15 is an appropriate amount of money to charge for the additional service involved.
But Anthem tells the L.A. Times that it’s temporarily halted its plan to charge the fee:
Anthem’s convenience fee for payments made through a customer service representative will be waived while the company makes a decision about retaining the option of credit card payments through customer service.
Now, the L.A. Times article doesn’t mention this, but we read that last sentence as Anthem implying that it is considering the option of doing away with credit card payments altogether.
Anthem’s recently announced changes would do away with effectively force customers to pay either by check or direct debit from their bank account. The major catch to paying by check is that it requires getting paper statements, for which Anthem charges $2/month.
“People who have to write checks, including businesspeople who travel and others who vacation, frequently neglect to write checks on time, thus securing for Anthem some form of late fee,” the mayor of Rancho Mirage, CA, tells the L.A. Times. “That fee is usually inordinately high and is a windfall to the company.”
One 73-year-old Angeleno tells the paper, “I think they’re hoping that people like me forget to pay and then they get to cancel me.”