Another billing WTF



  • Cost to send a letter: 42 cents
    Cost of an envelope: Figure around 2 cents
    Cost of the sheep of paper with color printed ink: Figure around the same as the envelope at 2 cents

    Total Cost to send me the bill: 48 or so cents

    Amount I owe on the bill: 8 cents

    WTF? I realize these bills are printed and mailed by automated systems but why doesn't someone stop and THINK for a moment and not have the software mail out bills that cost more than the amount owed? Especially on monthly services such as my Cable/TV...

    Do they have like a shortage on if statements or something? 



  • I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.

    I thought they'd notice eventually, well maybe they will next month.



  • @Kermos said:

    Cost of the sheep of paper with color printed ink: Figure around the same as the envelope at 2 cents
     

     

    No, a sheep of paper would cost a lot more than 2 cents.





  • @dabean said:

    Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.
    Waiting on the interest, are you?



  • @Kermos said:

    WTF? I realize these bills are printed and mailed by automated systems but why doesn't someone stop and THINK for a moment and not have the software mail out bills that cost more than the amount owed?
     

    These amounts are tiny.

    The loss caused by this "inefficient" billing does not harm the company's income, as the slack from these ridiculous bills is dwarfed by the bills that have multi-digit amounts on them.

    Compare: You have tens of thousands of files on your hard drive that are smaller than a single cluster. Yet the slack of those files does not harm your drive's storage. Whatever you'd get back from smaller clusters is dwarfed by your photos, archives, movie files and mp3s on several orders of magnitude. It's not worth it.



  • @dhromed said:

    These amounts are tiny.

    The loss caused by this "inefficient" billing does not harm the company's income, as the slack from these ridiculous bills is dwarfed by the bills that have multi-digit amounts on them.


    It doesn't harm the company's income, but it definitely damages it. Even if it's only EUR 500,- p.m. we are talking about, the IF statement to avoid it would quickly pay.



  • @dabean said:

    I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.
    I had a credit come through on a closed checking account (through my debit card) and they sent me a statement saying they owed me like $7 for around 6 years.  Finally, I called them up and they mailed me a check.  



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @dabean said:

    I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.
    I had a credit come through on a closed checking account (through my debit card) and they sent me a statement saying they owed me like $7 for around 6 years.  Finally, I called them up and they mailed me a check.  

    I understand why they continue to send mails to people they owe money to (even if it's a few cents). They probably don't want some jackass with nothing better to do to sue them for not paying full or something. Still, they could just put that if for people that owe them less than a buck and save a few hundred dollars.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @dabean said:

    I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.
    I had a credit come through on a closed checking account (through my debit card) and they sent me a statement saying they owed me like $7 for around 6 years.  Finally, I called them up and they mailed me a check.  

    I understand why they continue to send mails to people they owe money to (even if it's a few cents). They probably don't want some jackass with nothing better to do to sue them for not paying full or something. Still, they could just put that if for people that owe them less than a buck and save a few hundred dollars.



  • @ammoQ said:

    @dhromed said:

    These amounts are tiny.

    The loss caused by this "inefficient" billing does not harm the company's income, as the slack from these ridiculous bills is dwarfed by the bills that have multi-digit amounts on them.


    It doesn't harm the company's income, but it definitely damages it. Even if it's only EUR 500,- p.m. we are talking about, the IF statement to avoid it would quickly pay.

    There's a lot more to this than most people realize, I think.  Oftentimes a $50 bill can cost a good deal of money to recoup if they have to send you to collections, etc.  The idea, I believe, is to set an expectation that any balance will be followed up on until it is paid, even if the company loses money.  In some cases they lose money, but it also provides an incentive for a lot of customers to keep their accounts from ever becoming delinquent to begin with.  If they started writing off balances that were not profitable to recoup, they would quickly find themselves in a situation where more and more accounts become delinquent because there is not sufficient reason to pay the balance if the company will not follow up on it.  By treating every outstanding balance the same, they establish a firm guideline that will keep many "edge" customers paying their bills regularly.  Call it economical psychology.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @belgariontheking said:

    @dabean said:

    I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.
    I had a credit come through on a closed checking account (through my debit card) and they sent me a statement saying they owed me like $7 for around 6 years.  Finally, I called them up and they mailed me a check.  

    You are one lazy fuck. 

    Ugly, too.



  • @Kermos said:

    WTF? I realize these bills are printed and mailed by automated systems but why doesn't someone stop and THINK for a moment and not have the software mail out bills that cost more than the amount owed? Especially on monthly services such as my Cable/TV...

    Do they have like a shortage on if statements or something? 

     

    I don't know if it is the case were you live, but around here, banks
    and some service companies (phone, directv, etc) are requierd by law to
    send by traditional mail any kind of bill or account balance statemens.
    So they might just be covering their asses. Not that it makes it less
    of a WTF.



  • @dabean said:

    I overpaid a loan by the equivalant of around $2 once. Since then they've sent me a statement every month saying they owe me the money, for the past 3 years.

    I thought they'd notice eventually, well maybe they will next month.

    We just keep the money and don't say anything unless the customer starts asking about it.



  • Every few months the provincial health insurance likes to send me a statement reminding me that I still don't owe them any money. I wonder how much those statements cost?



  • @SlyEcho said:

    We just keep the money and don't say anything unless the customer starts asking about it.

    I should probably explain a bit more. I have a clothing account from the same company which I actually use. Two indentical envelopes arrive on the same day with the same "special offer" filler junk and my statements. It may be two different departments but when I changed my address online both statements followed me, so it seems they share an accounting system.

    The logical thing to do would be to debit one account and credit the other, or deposit the money into my bank account, or even send me a cheque. It's only $2 though, so I don't care enough to phone them and they either don't notice or don't care that they've wasted way more than they owe me on postage alone.

    Not a big WTF, was just reminded about this by the OP.



  •   A company charged 1p to one of my credit cards last year to find out whether my details were valid. It wasn't something they mentioned in any of their literature, but I wasn't sufficiently offended to do anything about it.

    My bank was more pro-active. First they sent me a letter to tell me that I owed them 1p. A few weeks later (I'm not sure whether it was before or after the date I was supposed to pay it by), they sent me another letter to say that they'd paid the 1p themselves. After that, they went back to only sending me a statement when they change their interest rate. Cost of letters: 75p (or something like that). Revenue gained: -1p.

    I don't think this is the reason why the government now owns a large chunk of the bank, though.



  • @dhromed said:

    Compare: You have tens of thousands of files on your hard drive that are smaller than a single cluster. Yet the slack of those files does not harm your drive's storage. Whatever you'd get back from smaller clusters is dwarfed by your photos, archives, movie files and mp3s on several orders of magnitude. It's not worth it.

    You'd think that, wouldn't you?

    A friend of mine thought differently, years ago.  He decided he wanted to clean out all the old small files he wasn't using.  So he used a perl script to locate and unlink all of the files under 20k that were over a year old and hadn't been accessed in the past year.  It also pruned any entirely empty directories that left.

    He was rather annoyed that I couldn't keep from laughing long enough for him to tell me the actual problem.

    Hint: on a Linux system, executing a binary command does not update the access time.  Linking a library does not as well...  It also didn't help anything that his script didn't recognize the difference between regular files and special files.  (Tty files may have their access times updated if you use them.  Your drives, however, do not update their access or modify stamps when you access them through a mount point...)

    The resolution was easy, however: since these were all files that never changed, it was simple for him to reboot his system with his recovery CD, and restore those files from his latest backup.  Or, since he lost his recovery CD and hadn't made a backup in three years, to reboot his system with an install disk... (I could've tried with one of my recovery CDs, but since I did not use the same distribution and did not have the same packages installed, replacing all of the symbolic links would've been tedious at best.  Also, his distro stored his installed packages database as one or more separate files per package - generally under 20k in size.)



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @ammoQ said:

    @dhromed said:

    These amounts are tiny.

    The loss caused by this "inefficient" billing does not harm the company's income, as the slack from these ridiculous bills is dwarfed by the bills that have multi-digit amounts on them.


    It doesn't harm the company's income, but it definitely damages it. Even if it's only EUR 500,- p.m. we are talking about, the IF statement to avoid it would quickly pay.

    There's a lot more to this than most people realize, I think.  Oftentimes a $50 bill can cost a good deal of money to recoup if they have to send you to collections, etc.  The idea, I believe, is to set an expectation that any balance will be followed up on until it is paid, even if the company loses money.  In some cases they lose money, but it also provides an incentive for a lot of customers to keep their accounts from ever becoming delinquent to begin with.  If they started writing off balances that were not profitable to recoup, they would quickly find themselves in a situation where more and more accounts become delinquent because there is not sufficient reason to pay the balance if the company will not follow up on it.  By treating every outstanding balance the same, they establish a firm guideline that will keep many "edge" customers paying their bills regularly.  Call it economical psychology.

    My credit card company lets me disregard any bills less than 5 euros, in which case the amount will be transferred to the next bill with no interest.  They still do send me a statement saying that I owe them 3 euros or whatever, and that I don't have to pay it now.  I'd much rather receive all bills in email, because it saves my trouble, the environment and their money, but unfortunately not ever company offers this (my electric company and ISP do).


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @tdb said:

    My credit card company lets me disregard any bills less than 5 euros, in which case the amount will be transferred to the next bill with no interest.
    OTOH, there are CC companies[1] that apply a charge if the interest due on your bill is less than the charge (but greater than zero)

     

    [1] Egg in the UK (owned by CitiBank, this week)  have a minimum charge of 50p. If you carry over even just 1p, you'll be charged 50p the next month. Of course, this has nothing to do with sending dead-tree bills, since Egg don't send any. Unless you want to pay £2 per statement.


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