A Fee Even When You Pay Your Bills On Time?

CHICAGO (CBS) – It is hard enough for some to pay bills when it’s that time of the month but now comes news that more and more companies are charging you a fee, even if you pay on time.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker takes a look at who’s tapping your wallet and why.

Jeromy Sauls is among the many consumers who complain about the fees some companies charge when you try to pay everyday bills by phone, “It’s anywhere from $1.75 to $4.95.”

But paying your bills by phone isn’t the only way you can rack up those unwanted fees.

When CBS 2 checked online to see how local companies handled online payments, we found customers could be charged a fee to pay their bill depending on how and when they pay.

“It’s just unacceptable that businesses charge you a fee for the privilege of paying for the service that you’re already paying for,” said Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

But, here are a few that do just that.

People’s Gas charges a $3.95 service fee if you pay online or over the phone with either a debit or credit card.

ComEd charges a $3.50 convenience fee for credit, debit, or E-check payments that are through the phone or online.

Nicor’s fee is $1.65 per transaction if you use the N-C-O payment option online, no matter what type of method you use to pay.

CBS 2 found that some retailers also use similar fees.

“I had a $5 balance on my Macy’s credit card. I called them by phone to pay it. They were going to charge me $14 to pay it,” said card holder Christa who was just trying to make a last-minute payment by phone.

Macy’s responded by saying they do charge a fee for expedited phone payments but only if the payment is made on the due date.

Legally, credit card issuers can do that.

Jessica Aguiar complains about the fee her mortgage company charges if she pays by phone, even if it is on time, “They said it would be $20 and I was just a little bit angry and shocked.”

But, banks argue that providing a live person on the phone is expensive.

“The fees intended to help cover the cost of the workers wages and benefits,” said Nessa Fields of the American Bankers Association.

Consumer advocates say that is not fair.

“The banks already had those people working on the phones and if they’re not collecting payments, they’re trying to sell something else,” Mierzwinski adds.

Nicor and ComEd both say they don’t make money off the fees which they say go to a third party and People’s Gas did not make a comment.

People can still pay some bills last minute using a Currency Exchange, EZ Pay Stations, and Walmart stores. That could cost you about a dollar.

You can often avoid fees altogether by paying in person or using your own bank account’s online bill pay feature.

  • Jole

    B A S T A R D S

    • Crissy

      Exactly!! That’s what they are for sure!!!!

  • Gerry Glowacki

    No mention of the State of Illinois that charges a convenience fee for renewing your license plates on line.

  • rhubarb

    How about Bank of America? When you have a 15 day grace period on your mortgage, you paid the interest for those days at your closing. When BOA took over Countrywide, they began charging fees that escalate during the 15 day period that the consumer ALREADY PAID FOR. This should be illegal.

  • rhubarb

    +1 Gerry. The folks that process the mail are already sitting at the desk. You have to be a superslueth these days in order to avoid these added fees. The only way I know to avoid DL fees is to pay for your sticker at the DMV. Watch — now they’ll start charging a fee as well.

  • Wonder Weirdo

    How about that $28 fee that Peoples Gas charges you just for being a customer no matter how much gas you use or don’t use.

  • James Cady

    I can only speak for Nicor and Com-ED, but I pay with mycheckfree.com, and I don’t pay any of those fees.

  • oldfashoned

    Try a stamp and an envelope.

  • Larry Schaibley

    And what about Farmers Insurance who charges a monthly fee of $2.00 for an automatic electronic payment directly from my checking account? I suppose they’ll say they have to pay for the electricity.

  • My thoughts

    the elected slobs in office pass a few laws for the people to protect us from these thiefs…Whats Lisa doing about this…nothing ,hiding under the desk again or playinf AG by staying at home least she might find some corruption cases and make daddie mad….

  • Uncle Tony

    For people who have Bank of America Credit Card
    They say they give you a grace period of so many days but did you ever see a post mark date on the credit card envelope. My statement date was about 12 days ago and I still have not got my statement. I have to print it up every month from the internet. I usually get it a week before it is due. If I am late they charge $30 plus for late fees. If I am late so many times in the year they can increase my interest rate to 29.99% thanks to the government passing a bill in 2009. If they purposely send out statements late charge 30% late fees have more than 1,000,000 customers 30 million for creating penalties in one month. Loan sharks supported by our government.

  • Uncle Tony

    $30 late fees not 30% late fees

  • Joanne K

    Waste Management charges me a $3.00 “administrative” fee for sending me a bill. They also increase their “fuel surcharge” fee quarterly. When I have complained their company rep told me I have options “there are other waste companies.”

  • jolunn

    At&T also increased their little side costs

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live