What Happens When You Pay Your $0.19 Amex Bill With 7 Origami Checks?

Bad Consumer Smith finally paid off her American Express Optima card after 14 years, but couldn’t believe that Amex tacked on a $0.19 finance charge to her last bill. Smith summoned her lesser angels to work out a fitting response. Here’s what she came up with:

I sent AmEx two checks for a penny each, one for two cents, two for three cents, one for four cents, and one for a nickel.

I didn’t want them to accidentally drop one, and I was still in a bad mood, so I folded the first check up. Then the second. Then I realized I could fold them all up… around each other.

Topped off with the billing slip, with “stupid bill” written in green marker on it.

Hit the jump for Amex’s response.

Smith writes:

Since at least 1994 I have had an American Express Optima card.

We finally paid the darn thing off.

I waited patiently for my final billing statement, and sent in the payment electronically the next day.

Except AmEx doesn’t believe in Grace Periods, only Average Daily Billing.

So, AmEx decided my final bill of 340 odd dollars was an average daily bill of $23. So they sent me a bill for $.19 interest.

Unfortunately for all involved they sent me that in the middle of a really BAD week.

I thought about this.

What is the most evil way I can pay this thing?

If I do 19 payments of one cent each through my bank it will just go to the AmEx computers. That’s too easy.

I started to send in $.19 from my desktop piggy bank.

Then I realized I wouldn’t know they received it, and I really don’t want a LATE bill for nineteen cents.

So I started to send a check for one center and 18 cents cash. (I have sent in $1.00 or similar checks before with paper forms to other billers— then I know they got the damn thing).

Decided I didn’t want to pay for the postage to mail a nickel.

Realized my bank gives me unlimited checks, unlimited check cashing for free.

So I tear out a chunk of checks.

Realize that if I’m the person processing the check, 19 checks for a penny each is pretty easy.

So I sent AmEx two checks for a penny each, one for two cents, two for three cents, one for four cents, and one for a nickel.

I didn’t want them to accidentally drop one, and I was still in a bad mood, so I folded the first check up. Then the second. Then I realized I could fold them all up… around each other.

Topped off with the billing slip, with “stupid bill” written in green marker on it.

It just might have taken less time to wait on hold and be transferred 17 times trying to get them to waive a bill for $.19, but I have my doubts. AmEx has call centers in India just like everyone else.

Am I a bad consumer, or just sick of bull hockey? How hard would it have been for the computers to be programmed to say, “bill amount is less than cost of mailing, cheaper to waiver bill?” I have one medical laboratory I deal with who doesn’t bill below a threshold — it’s cheaper to eat the bill than send out and process a bill for some minimum.

Stupid conglomeramegacorporation.

-Bad Consumer Smith

Amex cashed the checks. Each and every one of them. We can’t say we’re surprised, but we do commend Smith for her creativity.



Edit Your Comment

  1. ConRoo says:

    Make ’em work for it!

  2. ByeBye says:

    Wow – most creative indeed. I wonder if the person who processed the checks had a good laugh that day.

  3. hapless says:

    I suspect that this took the same amount of time as sitting on the phone, but I’m 100% certain that it was more fun.

  4. Angryrider says:

    Yahoo! Way to torture the guy who has to cash those checks and enter them.

  5. rioja951 - Why, oh why must I be assigned to the vehicle maintenance when my specialty is demolitions? says:

    Made my day.
    I am also an (un)fortunate card holder/slave of amex, never had an issue like this but the bastards really like to push me on the payment due date.

    BTW, you owe me a good keyboard, reading this made me spit my coke all over it, else i risked drowning on it while trying to laugh. It also didnt help the fact that it was in front of 5 of my coworkers. Those BASTARDS are merciless with the ribbing on any of us.

  6. bjarmson says:

    Wish I had thought of this. Last year I keep getting bills for ever increasing late penalty charges from the Veterans Administration, even though I had paid the original bill in full. At first it was only a few cents, but it continued to mount into the couple of dollars range while I sent them messages to the effect that I had paid on time and their late charges were bogus (and never received a single reply). Finally gave up and sent them a check for a couple of dollars, before they decided to put a lien on my house or some such draconian tactic. Wish I had thought of this. Though at the price of checks these days, it’s going to end up costing a bundle to do something like that just to gain some trifling satisfaction.

  7. DeeHaney says:

    I remember once AMEX sent me a bill with a zero balance, so I sent them a check for zero. They sent back note that said the payment was problematic or something. Later bills for zero would say not to send payment, and I guess if there’s no use and no balance, they don’t send anything as seldom use it and only get something from them when there is some sort of account change they have to notify me of.

  8. Bill says:

    It probably would have been worth calling them to see what they say.

    This month, Discover Card sent me a bill for the interest on all of the charges from last month because I was accidentally short $0.17. I called and explained the problem, and they happily waived the charges.

    Also, those checks were run via ACH, so you’re forgetting that they probably paid a significant amount of money to cash each cheque too (like maybe $0.20/transaction).

  9. Shadowfire says:

    I’m betting a picture of the checks is posted in their break room..

  10. maestrosteve says:

    I’m not sure I really get this. It appears to me, that the OP owed the money and decided to be a prick and make things annoying to everyone involved. Sure, a 19 cent bill seems stupid, and these bills are sent out by computers, not humans that can reason that it cost more to do the transaction than it is worth, BUT Amex has millions of people, and they can’t wipe little amounts like this off the books every time.

    I like what Bill did. He called Discover Card, spoke with a person, and they waived the charge. That’s what any normal person should do. Did the OP feel that he was getting screwed to the point that he should get even? After all, he did owe the money.

    Again, I don’t get the point. I always want to be fair, whether it’s sticking up for the big guys, or sticking up for the little guy. Is everybody here happy because somehow he was able to stick it to the big guys, without regard to right or wrong?

  11. Dobernala says:

    Sure, a 19 cent bill seems stupid, and these bills are sent out by computers, not humans that can reason that it cost more to do the transaction than it is worth

    Bad reasoning. Humans programmed those computers and could fix them so that this doesn’t happen.

  12. sncreducer says:

    It seems to me that if an Amex rep got a hair up his ass and acted like as much of a douchebag as Smith here (say, by somehow finding a way to send him a separate receipt for each of the checks), the Consumerist editors would be lined up with the heavy lumber to bash the crap out of them.

    But Smith here figures 19 cents is too piddling for him to be bothered with, so he throws a tantrum and acts like a child, and his behavior is celebrated? I must have missed the part in the Amex user agreement that says “if your account is billed a very small amount of money, you know, you totally don’t have to pay it. Cause that would be lame.”

    To echo other commenters, why not call the company, Smith? You do understand that billing is automated, right? It’s not like some Amex rep was sitting at a desk going, “BWAHAHAHA! We will squeeze Smith for every cent!” I guess it’s just easier to call attention to yourself by acting like an asshole than it is to grow up and understand that you live in an imperfect world.

  13. zentex says:

    @maestrosteve: way to “rain on the parade” :-(

    I had a rant, but you’ll miss that point too.

  14. Mr_D says:

    Hey, he paid the bill. What is it to him that the postage on the bill/payments and check processing fees exceeded the amount of the bill? Even without the 7 checks thing, it still probably costs them more than $0.19 to collect something.

    Is it so hard to have a threshold where bills are not sent out? I’m not saying round off all bills to the nearest dollar, but at some point it’s cheaper to just eat the cost.

  15. cde says:


    Passive Aggressive Much?

    Also, Next time, send real origami. Maybe a Starcraft SeigeTank of Checks.

  16. cashmerewhore says:


    Postage to mail out the bill and for him to mail back the payment were both worth more than 19¢.

    Discover is awesome for reversing finance charges if you pay the bill in full, even those much higher than a handful of pennies.

  17. cde says:

  18. cde says:

    And damn images are not working :/

  19. GearheadGeek says:

    Re: not billing for piddling-small amounts: If they had good programmers, companies wouldn’t even have to “eat” such small amounts. They could change the $0.19 charge to a class of item that incurs no interest or late fee, but will sit in the account until other transactions build up a high enough balance to generate a bill. To cover the cases in which customers stop using the card altogether or for long periods of time, this new class of transaction could age out and convert to 0 in X months if there are no further transactions on the account. Of course, that would probably confuse someone and make them post to the consumerist about their confusing bill…

  20. itsgene says:

    I once got a final bill from AT&T for 40¢. When I called to ask them to waive it, they refused, despite the fact that it cost them 37¢ to send me the bill and would cost me another 37¢ to pay it.
    I sent them a check for $1, and then called them EVERY DAY asking where my 60¢ refund was. Eventually they sent me back a check for the difference, which I never cashed.
    I just relished the idea that they spent so much more than 40¢ to collect on that final bill.

  21. SadSam says:

    I was at the library this weekend and I had a small overdue fine (.20). I was working on locating change when the librarian said not to bother that it was too small an amount and she had closed out of my account. She suggested, with a smile, that I not bring back the books I was currently borrowing until my overdue account was at least worth a dollar. I confirmed that there was no interest being calculated on .20 (she laughed) and went on my merry way.

  22. bigbadbyte says:

    “Am I a bad consumer, or just sick of bull hockey?”

    Your alright.

  23. jnews says:


    I just closed my account with US Cellular and had an outstanding balance of (iirc) 22 cents for text messaging, and an associated “Satisfied Customer Credit” of 22 cents to close out my account at zero. So at least one company will automatically waive piddly amounts rather than annoy a customer.

  24. agency says:

    Consumer should’ve instead sent 38 checks for half a cent each

  25. Dont get me wrong … but this is just pain stupid … i mean if i would get one of those bills i would just sit down at my computer, pay the bill via e-banking and be done with it in less than a minute. Then grab a cold beer and be happy never to be botherd again… i mean come on.

  26. katylostherart says:

    @Angryrider: you must have a really really light definition of torture.

  27. t325 says:

    @maestrosteve: Since they have to mail out bills, at 41 cents a stamp, it makes sense to wipe any under-$0.41 bill off the books. Costs them less. Not to mention the other processing costs (paper, ACH fees, man hours, etc)

    I know computers print out these bills, but it would be quite simple to update their software so it will just write off any bill under a certain amount.

  28. hardcle says:

    I can sympathize with the OP’s frustration, but it’s not like the CEO is opening the mail. It’s very likely that they outsource their payment processing to another company. However, he can take some comfort in knowing that he cost AmEx some extra money, since those companies charge on a per item basis.

  29. Alex Chasick says:

    @cde: That is amazing, although I’d suggest sending them nothing, and claiming that it’s cloaked.

  30. Alex Chasick says:

    AmEx is certainly entitled to their 19¢, but I wonder what their position would be in the opposite situation.

  31. NewPerfection says:

    Last month I was 30 cents short on my water bill since I wrote the check before hand and didn’t feel like re-writing it. I later got a disconnect notice since my account was past due. Seriously, it’s so stupid.

  32. JKinNYC says:

    This would have done absolutely nothing. THe checks would have been unfolded, placed behind the ticket, and scanned through a machine that does such a thing. Actually, 19 checks would have taken more effort.

    Even if it had been a pain, you pissed off the low level employee who had to deal with it, not the company who was stupid for billing you. Way to piss on the clerk earning minimum wage.

  33. surreal says:

    I have a similar situation with a 7 cent bill. My situation is obviously more complicated as 7 cents is not large enough to send an obnoxious number of checks for different amounts. What to do???

  34. Roxie says:

    Sorry to say it, but I’m not sure this really did anything. With a large-scale company like American Express, the item processing employees that receives these payments will just unfold all the checks and run them through their “sorter” (or whatever machinery they run all their other checks through) and they won’t care how much the checks are for or if they’re written to “STUPID BILL” because, well…in all likelihood, the OP sure wasn’t the first to put that on a check anyway. If anything, the most that these people will care about is the way the checks were folded up the way they are–they can jam up the machinery that way and get mangled up and stuff.

    No…if anything, I’m afraid the OP was just preaching to the choir this way. And the only people the OP might have upset would’ve been the item processing people who’d have to process these checks and had NOTHING to do, whatsoever, with giving the OP this stupid charge to start with. If you guys want to complain, complain to the right people. Please don’t mess with these lower-rung folks who are just doing their jobs.

  35. JKinNYC says:

    @surreal: Think about what 7 cents of your time is worth. Remember who is going to have to deal with your “protest.” Then just mail them a nickel and 2 pennies and be done with it.

  36. JKinNYC says:

    @Roxie: Sounds like you’ve managed an IP department too. (I beat you to it by a few minutes)

  37. You’re not a bad consumer. I had a good laugh over this story.

  38. TehRev says:

    also I’d like to note Amex also get a bulk shipping rate which amy be discounted over what a person pays.

    also to OP way to be a douche. Boo Hoo you got charged interest because of a contract you agreed to to borrow money.

  39. wring says:

    @超外人: srsly. talk about sticks up everyone’s butts. it’s a funny and cathartic, it’s a win win win!

  40. Buran says:

    @cde: That’s cool, but what is it? Is there a picture anywhere of the original object?

  41. Dobernala says:

    @TehRev: Now you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that things like bills have to be sent at the first class rate (albeit the bulk discount for it), so they’re still going to spend a significant amount of the money they’re trying to recover to get it back.

    This isn’t about right or wrong, its about common sense. American Express is probably losing money, once you factor in postage with the operational expense of having the mail sorted and processed. Its absurd and wasteful. Its no big fish, but companies shouldn’t waste time and resources on absurdly small bills.

  42. Did you hear the one about the Aggie who got a 19¢ bill from AMEX?

  43. chrisgoh says:

    To everyone saying that they should just waive bills of less than xx amount. Follow the logic of this out from the business perspective. If companies start doing this, then you will have a bunch of jerks purposefully underpaying their bills by a small amount. I’m sure the cost of dealing with the few people that want to make a point of the stupidity of a small bill outweighs the costs of dealing with all the jerks who would try to game the system.

  44. In other news,
    AMEX worker receives painful paper cut while processing insidiously folded checks. Worker vows to get even.

  45. The Bambino says:

    Wait a minute…the OP thinks he WON the battle? EPIC FAIL

  46. mattbrown says:

    When people do this, they do realize that it’s some under paid worker who’s unpacking their envelopes that hates their job and quite possibly their life?
    It’s always good to make their lives worse, ey?

  47. Mr_D says:

    I don’t know – if I was an underpaid letter opener, I might be amused if I got a creative envelope like that.

  48. Ryanraven says:

    I would have made some Cranes or something. That may have been mas defacil to mail tho. Hey a laugh’s a laugh.

  49. wring says:

    @Mr_D: I would be too. I would enjoy spending half an hour receiving those checks.

  50. TexasBelle says:

    Oh, the problem with tricks like this is that they only hurt some ostensibly innocent payment processing clerk. The people responsible for that stupid final bill policy will never even know what Smith did, let alone be inconvenienced by it. Of course all the checks were cashed; the clerk receiving them didn’t have any other choice.

    And don’t even get me started on the time Smith spent dreaming up and carrying out this stunt. Totally not worth it! Pay the 19 cents electronically and fuggedaboudit!

  51. WV.Hillbilly says:

    @maestrosteve: @sncreducer:
    @JKinNYC: @Roxie:

    Seems to me that the douchbags are the ones complaining about what the OP did.

    It always degenerates into a blame the victim scenario.

    And fuck the underpaid workers who had to unpack the envelopes.

  52. howie_in_az says:

    @Dobernala: You’d think so, but Target put me in collections for $0.14, even going so far as to phone me early one Saturday morning to demand payment.

  53. BruinEric says:

    I’d hate to be the parking attendant if you have a bad meal at a fancy restaurant. Way to take out your frustrations on the wrong person.

    Here’s some help for you next time:
    -Pay the bill
    -Cut up your credit cards from this company.
    -Call to cancel your credit cards from this company, when they ask you “why,” calmly explain your reasons.
    -Since this bothers you so greatly, never do business with them again.
    -Voila! Action which actually “punishes” the company which has policies with which you disagree.

  54. EtherealStrife says:

    Good for her. At least she’s having some fun with her 19 cent bill. Props on the creative payment method.

    @Buran: Starcraft Siege Tank in siege mode. Truly a work of art.

    @TexasBelle: Boo hoo. I’m betting the clerk got a kick out of it. If the only thing I did was cash checks I know it’d brighten up my day.

  55. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    wow. WTF is this person’s problem?

    I have an AMEX card. I pay it on time, before it’s due. I’ve never had a problem with them.

    I use their coverage on rental cars when I rent them. $15 per rental for total coverage. The last time I was in Canada, I had a claim for $400 made against me. Amex paid it. No problems.

    I purchased a phone from a ripoff vendoe on line. I called Amex. The charge was reversed immediately. No problem.

    So tell me again why I’m supposed to be impressed by this childish stunt?

  56. SayAhh says:

    @itsgene: Yeah, bad consumer Smith should’ve done this by writing yet ANOTHER 2-cent check, then calling and demanding everyday for a refund check due to overpayment. LOL

    All kidding aside, I’ve yet to have a problem with American Express, and their Costco-branded TrueEarnings card is exceptional (unless/until you are delinquent, obviously).

  57. Wait a minute…. people still pay bills through the mail?

    For the past 4 years, the only paper check I’ve used is for apartment rent, and I’m still on check #60 for that account. Pay the bill online and be done with it.

    Amex is a big corporation with complicated and highly automated billing systems. The bill for 19 cents was created because of their policies. No automated billing system will ever be created with the ability to waive charges, not without human oversight.

    If you feel the bill is wrong or useless, then call customer service and talk to someone with the authority to help. The billing system is programmed to bill you. Also, yes you probably stuck to the guy who’s opening the checks but checks are checks to him, not like he really cares.

    To me the only person who lost is the OP, wasting a huge amount of time for a pathetic reason.

  58. surreal says:

    @manithemoneyman: I pay bills through the mail when my credit card charges me a $7 fee to pay online. Call me crazy.

  59. homerj says:

    Ok listen people…

    Because of all the fine new financial auditing that is now enforced by criminal penalties, this is how billing is going to be.

    If their system says you owe them 2 cents. They have to send you a bill, put a stamp on it, and hope you pay it. Then when you send in two checks for a penny, they HAVE to cash them. The gov’t wants to know about every transaction.

    What’s a couple cents? To you? Nothing. Some guy in accounting wants to skim $100k, and hides it on the books by saying it was 10 cent rebates to 10,000 people? That’s enough for a lot of people to go to jail over.

    I really wish these “OMG Company X billed me/sent me a check for some amount less than a dime” stories would die. Welcome to the post Enron/WorldCom world.

  60. sventurata says:

    I’ve opened letters AND processed payments (for separate institutions), and I think origami chequemaking is a hoot. Much better than whaling out some CSR on the phone!

    Congrats, Smith, you’ve won today’s “Blame the Victim” trophy.

  61. upokyin says:

    Way to waste your own time. You must think the CEO of American Express is walking your checks to the corner bank and standing in line or that some guy with a green eyeshade is meticulously penciling in your balance in a ledger book. The guy who opened your envelope must process a thousand checks a day. Why should he care if the check says 1 cent or $100? He probably had a little chuckle and then forgot about it five minutes later.

  62. @surreal:
    Hmm I’d say its time for a new credit card. $7 to be able to pay online?

    All of my cards gave me a (tiny) discount in fees so they could get me to pay online.

  63. brandymb says:

    I have two refund checks from pay fones back in the 70’s from Ma Bell for .05 and .03, they’re too damn cute to cash!

  64. nsv says:

    AmEx has saved my gluteus maximus several times over the years when I dealt with merchants of questionable ethics. I’m always happy to complain, and their overseas reps frustrate me, but I have to admit I’m happy with AmEx.

  65. @t325: Then everybody’s going to underpay their AMEX by 41 cents, or whatever a first class stamp costs this week. BC is still a joker, but unless the account is being closed, the 19 cents stays, IMO.

  66. rbdfoxes says:

    @JKinNYC: When I got stupid checks from stupid patients we would all take a minute to laugh at the stupid stupid patients’ payments. So it was good times. Broke up the monotony. Same for when I got payment checks for $.01 from the stupid insurance companies.

  67. LucyInTheSky says:

    excellent. this made my day.

  68. jlayman920 says:

    I don’t understand. If you owe 19 cents then pay it and shut the fuck up.

  69. wildness says:

    A farmer once decided to finally pay a disputed debt, but instead of sending in a regular check, he wrote the check on the side of a pig and delivered it to the debt holder, who promptly declared it invalid. The farmer refused to pay any other way, so the debt holder took the farmer to court.

    The ruled that the check written on the side of a pig was an acceptable form of payment and sided with the the farmer.

  70. mostcleverusername says:

    if the checks even went to amex, it might inconvenienced someone at the LOWEST level of the company. however, it probably went to a lockbox of the bank amex uses, and just been an inconvenience of the lowest level of employee at an entirely different company.

  71. wildness says:

    @jlayman920: Sounds reasonable until you factor in the fact that credit card companies are ruining this country (though GW is sure doing his part).

  72. bocablaze says:

    @homerj: The guy in your scenario would get caught for sure. 10,000 rebates at 10 cents each is only $1000. Surely he will have to account for the other $99000 he stole.

  73. sncreducer says:

    @WV.Hillbilly: Hey, dumbass –

    It always degenerates into a blame the victim scenario.

    How exactly is the OP a “victim” here? She signed a contract. Amex billed her according to the terms of that contract. Even the OP doesn’t dispute the validity of the charge itself, she just got annoyed because it was so small. Where’s the victimization? I question your reading and reasoning skills, son.

    And fuck the underpaid workers who had to unpack the envelopes.

    Wow. And you have the nerve to call other people “douchbags”? Look within, fella. The OP is a whiny crybaby, and you are too.

  74. Is it just me, or do the checks pictured look like they have been filled out with a felt tip pen? The kind of pen you’re not supposed to use because scammy types will be able to wash the ink away and then fill in any amount they want to? That’d be somethin’ if that happened with these checks…

  75. b-real says:

    @Michael Belisle:

    Yeah she was too dumb to realize it was nineteen cents and made a big to-do about it ;)

  76. Consumer007 says:

    @Angryrider: Yup and that guy knows how evil his employer is, cost of selling out and working there, isn’t it? There’s likely another call center across the street…

  77. Consumer007 says:


    Get a clue SNC, this .19 cents is obviously a ploy in hopes of having her ignore it out of pissed-off-ness mode so they can rape her for the $35 late fee and ejaculate….don’t you know how credit card companies work now? Glad she didn’t give them the satisfaction..

  78. Consumer007 says:

    @surreal: Hmm, my reaction, a lot more fun, is to call up and punish someone on the phone for punishing me with a fee for what should be free, and then punish their manager, etc. etc.

    If that doesn’t work I send them a bill for “customer service incompetence fee”, “customer inconvenience fee”, etc. for the same amounts I object to. Of course they won’t pay it, but it makes some people think again…and gives them a story to be falsely indignant about with their mindless little friends at the water cooler…

  79. Consumer007 says:

    If it had been me, in addition to the origami, I would have gotten one of those demagnetizers and demagnetized the ink on the bottom of the checks just to piss them off even more, just in case they aren’t photo-based in their processing center.

  80. JustAGuy2 says:


    Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because she owes Amex 19 cents in interest?

  81. swstmama says:

    so the OP has an ornery sense of humor. at least there are other people who see it that way.

  82. SlappySquirrel says:

    The irony is, if I had been paying down my credit yard for 14 years, writing that last check for .19 would have given me so much pleasure…

    I may be biased, because AmEx’s rental car insurance saved me lots of money once.

  83. ThunderRoad says:

    I’ve had CC companies waive balances of up to $2 (Amex, MBNA are two personally I’ve dealt with). Weird that they would bill for the 19 cents. However, since this card had been in repayment for so long, perhaps that’s why the system didn’t detect the piddling-small change left on the balance.

  84. ColonelDebugger says:


    Nooooooooooooooooooo, that couldn’t be. I’m sure someone at AmEx specifically targeted this person for this sort of thing just to be hateful and improve the company’s chances in the next Worse Company EVAR competition.

  85. yesteryear says:

    not impressed. a better response would have been to pay a designer $1500 to create letterhead that reads “F U AM EX” along the left margin, spend $120 to have it printed, then blow $5.00 for a $0.19 money order, and then another $43 to overnight it via fedex. but i guess some people

    this is just another example of someone taking the easy route.

  86. RagingBoehner says:

    Isn’t it pretty standard for you to get a credit card bill every month regardless of balance? Wouldn’t you be concerned if you DIDN’T get a bill one month on a revolving credit line? I have a couple accounts open but I never use the cards — I’d be very suspicious if I didn’t get a bill one month confirming my zero balance. I don’t see how this is any different.

  87. Coelacanth says:

    Heh, did you attempt calling their customer service centre? Honestly, AmEx has usually been amongst the best credit card companies I’ve ever dealt with, and they’d most likely take that charge right off.

    Capital One attempted to bill me for $0.15 because I recently paid off their card. Their representative from India wanted me to pay, but his supervisor simply removed the charge.

    For me, the satisfaction of not giving anyone a cent they’re not due is more than making a CSR work to process a payment.

    However, very creative!

  88. world-inferno says:

    @TheRealAbsurdist: I’m glad everything worked out for YOU. Too bad this article is about how AMEX treated SOMEONE ELSE.

    Q: ‘So tell me again why I’m supposed to be impressed by this childish stunt?’

    A: after 14 years, but couldn’t believe that Amex tacked on a $0.19 finance charge to her last bill.

  89. sgodun says:

    What a bitch. The customer, I mean.

  90. Grandjester says:

    WaMu pulled the same shit with me, wish I’d have though of this.

  91. hexychick says:

    I find it funny that the granny who went to Comcast with a hammer in hand got more sympathy and less crap from the commenters than someone who was creative and non-violent with their annoyance. The bill got paid so why is everyone attacking the OP?

  92. flyingphotog says:

    I would have sent an extra $.01 so they would have to spend the labor and postage to mail you a $.01 check. Damn the man.

  93. Beerad says:

    Why so much hate? Amex got their money, and the OP got some entertainment/satisfaction out of a frustrating situation. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

    And as someone who’s worked a number of dreary jobs in his life (albeit not one as a check processor for a CC company) I imagine that the office worker that everyone’s so up in arms about was probably amused (and worst case scenario simply “not amused”) by this.

  94. StevieD says:

    To the OP

    Amex uses the Bubba and Guido Collection Service.

    Don’t be surprised one day when Bubba and his cousin Guido show up on your doorstep to collect the ounce of flesh still owed to Amex for your childish prank.

  95. Myron says:

    How old are you? Three?

  96. Saydrah says:


    This is the kind of thing that gives customers a bad name. You reap what you sow.

  97. TONY says:

    should have used half cents

  98. sncreducer says:


    …this .19 cents is obviously a ploy in hopes of having her ignore it out of pissed-off-ness mode so they can rape her for the $35 late fee and ejaculate…

    I don’t suppose you have any proof for your theory, do you? Or do the aliens just beam these ideas directly into your head, right through the tin foil hat?

  99. kamikazee770 says:

    What I want to know is where does Bad Consumer Smith does her banking to get free checks and check cashing?

  100. MartyF81 says:


    A computer issued the bill not a human. Even if the amount is dumb she still owes it a

  101. MartyF81 says:


    A computer issued the bill not a human. Even if the amount is dumb she still owes it and is a whiner.. Why should Amex not get their 19 cents. Multiply 19 cents times 1 million people and you have a lot of money.

    And she is ignorant for blasting the way AMEX calculates APR etc…. You don’t like it, don’t use Amex… they tell you up front that is how it works.

  102. surreal says:

    @manithemoneyman: i’d love to be rid of them if only i’d stop getting bills for pennies. and if i were even to bite and pay the pennies online, they wouldn’t let me pay the $7 fee for paying online until the next billing cycle… which puts me in an even worse place than i started.

  103. RvLeshrac says:


    She *paid her bill in full*, which is the sticking point. AmEx billed her *AFTER* her card balance was *completely paid off*.

    Granted, she should have just called them. But still, they aren’t supposed to assess a finance charge after you’ve paid off your balance in full.

  104. sncreducer says:


    But still, they aren’t supposed to assess a finance charge after you’ve paid off your balance in full.

    …except that Amex bills interest on an average daily balance (as stated in her complaint), which is why she was charged interest according to the terms of her user agreement. So Amex did exactly what they were “supposed to”, and she chose to be a spoiled brat about it.

  105. sncreducer says:

    I have some questions for Carey and all the defenders of this behavior. It seems that most of you are defending this tactic on the basis of a attitude that it’s such a small amount of money, the company should just waive it automatically. So:

    1) How much is a “small enough” amount that companies should just waive it? Less than 20 cents? Less than a dollar? How long until people start complaining that $1.01 bills are ridiculous and should be waived? Where does your argument end?

    2) If piddling little amounts mean next to nothing, how many of you would object to companies rounding amounts on your bill UP to, let’s say, make balancing your checkbook easier? Does your argument only apply when YOU are saving money at someone ELSE’S expense, or would any of you be willing to pay more for the company’s convenience? Why not?

  106. @MartyF81: Don’t be angry she finally got to have some fun with the conglomeramegacorporation.

  107. EtherealStrife says:

    @sncreducer: Less than the cost of postage and man-seconds (for processing payment) would be a start.

  108. slstsang says:

    Belief in Karma, you had a chance to be the bigger person and resolve it in a fast simple manner, but you wasted your “opportunity cost” (time could have spent to make more money) and plot your revenge on someone who really didn’t start the problem in the first place and he/she had to spent extra time and put up with your bullshit. This kind of behavior is juvenile beyond words could describe.

  109. world-inferno says:

    @MartyF81: Rule number one: When calling someone dumb, remember not to end your sentences in a

  110. sncreducer says:


    OK then, but according to that value system, the OP is the party most at fault here for inflating the processing cost in man-seconds with her juvenile trickery. She could have paid online and minimized her own wasted time and the company’s, and this transaction would have been much more productive for all involved.

  111. Beerad says:

    @sncreducer: @sncreducer: True, except that the customer is not obligated to minimize expenses for the company. That’s the company’s obligation (assuming they are interested in maximizing profits) and you would think they would act accordingly.

    To answer your first two questions:
    1) As etheral strife pointed out, the point where it is not cost effective makes a lot of sense. If you owe me five bucks but it would cost $100 to process the payment, you bet I’d write it off.

    2) Consumers can and do pay extra for things like this. That “convenience fee” that gets charged if you pay your utility bill online? People are willing to pay that to avoid having to deal with paper checks and mailing things. So yes, given a reasonable benefit people will pay for it. More to the point, if AMEX owed you a $0.15 refund but you had to send them a self-addressed stamped envelope to collect, would you?

  112. hometoast says:

    Lordy there is a lot of bitching in the comments.

    The story is simple: people find that kind of bill annoying, consumer had fun with the idea, move on.

    Do I think it’s worthy of consumerist article? No. Do I think it’s amusing? Yes.

  113. trujunglist says:

    I’m guessing that it doesn’t actually cost any large company 41 cents to mail out a letter because the USPS gives them bulk deals. Knowing this government, it may even be free, or they may even get paid for it.

  114. jesuismoi says:

    @kamikazee770 — USAA.

  115. ludwigk says:

    Whenever you receive a utility/phone bill that is extremely small, such as less than the cost of a 1st class USPS stamp, then I would suggest calling their billing department and offering to pay via credit card.

    They will usually waive the fee. They can’t refuse your payment method if they accept credit cards, but with the card fees, it will actually cost them to charge you. If they don’t waive the fee, then you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did the right thing, and it cost them more than if you hadn’t even paid your bill. If they waive it, then obviously you’re done.

    If it’s your CC company sending you a $.15 bill like the OP, I’m guessing this doesn’t work.

    In college we all had default long distance plans attached onto our dorm phones. You could call and get a better plan, but a lot of students just never used it at all. Every few months, I would get a phone bill for about $.17, and I would just let it ride and collect late fees (which were percentage based), until a few more months of calls had accrued, and the bill was maybe $2.50. Then I’d pay it off. A classmate of mine said “just call them every month and offer to pay it via CC. They always waive it.”

  116. Interl0per says:

    If it took this person a maximum of 14 years to pay off a credit card Im going to say they are probably not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Im all for punishing bad companies with horrible customer service, but I dont see that here. I see someone who wasted 30 minutes of their life getting revenge on a banking mainframe…

  117. DeltaPurser says:

    I’m not sure I should laugh or cry… Not sure this is the best way to “stick it to the man”. It does annoy one of their employees, but it won’t do jack squat to AmEx.

  118. dweebster says:

    @Mr_D: And a hell of a good and cheap way to retain a customer that has just paid off their balance.

    Seriously, for all the money these companies spend to advertise and otherwise create and maintain customers – *NOT* programming the computers to “write off” piddly amounts that cost AMEX more just to mail the bill is kinda nuts. Mailing something to her saying something like “thank you for being such a great customer, we are giving you a small gift this month and paying your total due as a goodwill gesture.” If it costs customer 41cents to mail them a check that costs AMEX 20cents plus their overhead – then all that corporate branding has taken a dump straight into the toilet right there. It’s freeking petty cash, usury interest that AMEX is collecting, and it costs them more to squeeze it out of the paying customer than they make. Probably the same geniuses running AMEX that designed the “no doc” home loans.

  119. cockeyed says:

    Yeah customers think this stuff is cute, but the people responsible for it don’t care and place it on staff lower on the ladder. So all she did was punish the guy who had to enter them.