I can remember a time when there was no such thing as paying a bill online. You had to actually write out a check, put it into an envelope, put a stamp on it, and send it out through the regular and very slow U.S. Postal Service. You needed to do this at least seven days in advance of your due date if you wanted to be fairly sure that it would get there on time and get posted properly to your account. Unfortunately there was always the ever present danger that the mail would get lost and then you were completely out of luck. The credit card companies, utility companies, and any other debtors you may have sent a check to would not believe you and why should they since most people just used this as an excuse for why their check never arrived. The creditors automatically assumed you were lying and you had to spend hours and hours trying to convince them that you were telling the truth. The outrage and loss of dignity inherent in that situation made for a lot of tension and conflict.
How many millions of people over the years have had their water, power, or phone service cut off because either the company never received the mailed payment or they did not process it? Sometimes they would even process it by hand, on time, cash your check, take the money out of your bank account, and somehow still not credit the payment to your account. At that point you would get your services discontinued or the credit card company would charge you that dreaded late fee check bills online. It was so incredibly frustrating but this was all ancient history. In today’s high technology world we are always paying bills online and therefore have the security of knowing that our bills will always get paid and paid accurately.
This is mostly true but, like any man-made technology, nothing is ever perfect. There are the occasional computer glitches and of course the dreaded identity theft issues, but mainly the system seems to work pretty darn well. You can also pay bills by phone, but most companies have discouraged this practice by charging a fee. Imagine that, charging us a “fee” for paying them! The nerve of those companies! I guess they have to pass the cost of the overhead on to us somehow but it seems ridiculous. It is like having to pay a fee for the privilege of being allowed to pass to the toll plaza, then paying the actual toll to cross the bridge.
Paying bills online is fast and easy most of the time. But you do need to register the first time you go on to the company websites in order to be allowed to pay your bill online. This means giving out sensitive information including a credit card number and maybe a checking account routing number. I don’t know about you but I get a little queasy thinking that my information is floating around cyberspace at so many different sites. They say that they are secure but how can they be totally sure?