I have recurring nightmares about forgetting to pay a bill for months and then I end up owing around $20,000. And businesses are convinced this will really happen to me.
First there was the US Department of Ed that said I owed them $9000 for a clerical error (not on my part). Then there was the same agency that allocated my student loan payments incorrectly and paid the loan not due and completely skipped the loan that was due resulting in late fees and a tremendous payment due the next month. I finally got that corrected.
Now there is Verizon. Who I have not had any business with since I cancelled my account in October.
I decided I was fed up with their service when I kept losing my internet connection because I lived too far away. Of course, I live within two miles of their local corporate office, and near the airport as well as a university. I'm not out in the sticks. Yet I couldn't get decent service. So I cancelled and went with a competitor (whose customer service reps are NOT located in India, by the way). I've never been happier.
Until today when I received a call from a collection agency about a 6 month old bill from Verizon for $53.00. Instead of paying it through the collection agency (much to the agent's chagrin when she saw her commission disappear), I called Verizon. I was familiar with this bill. And I wasn't paying it now.
Here is my side of the events.
October: Cancel shoddy service.
November: Receive a bill for $53. Go online to pay it and be rid of them forever. Except my online statement says everything is paid in full. It won't let me pay extra...
December: Receive another bill for $53. Go online to pay it and my balance owed is still $0.00. I call them to figure out what is wrong and I am told that the paper bill is a mistake and I don't owe anything.
January: Receive yet another bill for $53. Go online to check, it still says $0.00 so I throw it away.
May: Get the call from collection agency for $53 in delinquent debt.
I don't know why trying to find a phone number for a communications company is so difficult, but I finally find it buried in their website (of course, not in the "Contact Us" section...).
The first lady I speak to asks me why I didn't pay the bills the first time and she quotes me all of the dates the bills were paid. I run through my side and tell her that I don't understand the discrepancy between what they say I owe and why my online account was paid in full. She then goes into detail about the charges.
Me: I'm sorry, I don't think you understand the part I have an issue with.
Verizon: I understand. You owe $53.
Me: I'm not disputing the charge, I'm just trying to figure out your dual accounting systems...
Verizon: I'll transfer to the website support department.
Me: Noooo, this is a billing issue. You are in the billing department. Don't just transfer me to random departments to get rid of me.
She transferred me. But at least it was to some other bowels of the billing department.
Verizon: Yes, I see where we sent you three paper bills. And you neglected to pay all of them. Would you like to use our pay by phone service?
Me: No. I'm not paying.
Verizon: But...you owe the money.
Me: I know. But you screwed up. I TRIED to pay the money. Numerous times. And you kept telling me I didn't owe it. And now you have turned it over to a collection agency and harmed my credit. You owe me. It shouldn't take over 6 months to get this taken care of. So as a courtesy you can erase the debt.
Verizon: Oh, I wish I could stop paying my bills because I didn't WANT to...but the world doesn't work that way. You owe the money. I don't care if you pay today or later, but you still owe it. You owed it six months ago. That hasn't changed.
Me: Right. I got it. But I, in good faith, tried to pay the debt. And you said I didn't owe it when I called in December. I don't understand why I suddenly owe it now.
Verizon: You've always owed it. How do you want to pay?
Me: Again, not paying.
Verizon: But you have to. See when you cancelled your service, we changed your account number and the remaining charges of $53 were on the new account number which wouldn't show up online. So you still owe it.
Me: Creative accounting at its best. I would like to speak to your supervisor.
Verizon: They are just going to tell you the same thing. You need to pay. You don't get to pick and choose what bills to pay and which ones to skip. Which is why it ended up with the collection agency.
Me: Whatever. I asked to speak to your supervisor.
Verizon: That's not going to change anything.
Me: What part of this is hard to understand? I. Want. To. Speak. To. Your. Supervisor.
Verizon: Fine. Hold on.
Me: Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. If he disconnects me I'll kill him. Waiting. Waiting.
Verizon: You win. My supervisor agreed to forgive the $53. You now owe nothing. Just like you wanted. Are you happy you got your way?
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