Electronic billing helps millions of people find convenient ways of making their payments and handling their finances. Approximately 25% of all customers admit to having better relationships with their biller after switching to electronic billing. One local Washington resident, however, was not so lucky when it came to her electronic bills.
According to the Observer-Reporter, Ruth Santek ran into an overdue bill for Comcast for her phone, cable, television, and digital and security services. She had authorized a check by phone in May for $313.
About four days later, she noticed the payment had been deducted from her bank account twice. Because of the $626 payment and not the original $313, her bank account — which she shares with her daughter — was overdrawn.
“I had a migraine for two days working on this,” Santek said. “It was a nightmare.”
Once she realized there was an issue, she contacted her bank, WesBanco, and was directed to talk to a Comcast representative in Philadelphia. Comcast refused to take the blame and instead directed her to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which is a nationwide payment center.
Of course, once Santek reached the Feds, they denied any blame as well.
“I have been on the phone literally every day,” Santek said.
One of the two payments was refunded into her account 12 days after the initial double charge, but Santek and her daughter still had to pay the overdraw fees.
Comcast did not respond to their overdraw issue.
“The United States had no public authority with broad power over payment systems,” said Julius Weyman, Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. “This represents a fundamental difference in the U.S. banking landscape compared with countries that have implemented a faster payment scheme.”
Meanwhile, Santek doesn’t think she will do a check by phone for a long time.