I am ridiculously responsible with money. I always pay my bills on time. Thanks to online bill pay, which I’ve been using since 1997 or so, it’s easy to pay a bill as soon as it comes in – I typically set the “pay” date about a week before the due date, but then it’s done and I can file the bill and not think about it again.
Now, about a year and a half or so ago I was in our local Kohl’s store, and had amassed, for me, a rather large amount of items, with a large final total. They were pushing the store charge with 10% off your purchase and I said, “what the heck”. So I got a Kohl’s charge and once a month or so they send me a coupon for 15, 20 or 30% off for a 7 day time period, and sometimes, especially if I get a 30% coupon, I’ll make a trip to see what I can see.
On Christmas Eve my mom was here and this allowed me to go out, alone, to do some last minute shopping. I had a 30% off coupon so I went to Kohl’s. I bought gifts for my step-sisters and step-nephews (who I still haven’t seen to exchange gifts with – we are so lame) and a few other things. After the discount the total was around $70 and I felt like I got some decent bargains.
Some time after that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen a Kohl’s bill in awhile, so I went online to see if I could see it there. I did, and it wasn’t due yet, so I breathed a sigh of relief and figured I may as well pay it now, since I can set the date to pay online. When the bill came in the mail later, I filed it since I’d already paid it. It sure feels good to be so organized and responsible, let me tell you.
Well, last week I got an email from Kohl’s saying my account was past due. WHAT!?!? I immediately went to my online bill pay account to verify the date it was paid. And saw that in fact, my last payment to Kohl’s had been some time in the fall. I hadn’t paid the Christmas bill at all. And now they’d tacked on a late fee, completely wiping out my 30% savings. Damn! Of course I paid it right away once I saw that, cursing my own stupidity the whole time.
The second bill came on Monday. I let it sit on the counter, mocking me, for several days. I didn’t want to open it and see that late fee in black and white, reminding me how irresponsible and disorganized I was.
But overnight I had a thought. This morning I opened that bill. I called the number on it and listened to the automated voice tell me my balance was zero (phew!) and then pushed “0” to speak to a representative. I very nicely asked this 12-year-old-sounding customer service rep to remove the late charge as a gesture of good will to an otherwise excellent customer. And she did! Just like that! I was probably on the phone for no more than 20 seconds.
I am thrilled at the ease with which that was all accomplished, and will just have to be more responsible in the future. Sheesh!
But let that be a lesson to you, and a reminder to me. It doesn’t hurt to ask.