Friday, February 15, 2008

The Electrons Won!

Last December I wrote about our reluctance to leap into the 21st century by paying bills on-line. The response from you folks (including the idea that we were dinosaurs!) was just what I needed to do some more investigating. I started with our area bank where we have had an account for many years. Turns out they wanted to charge us a fee to use their on-line bill paying service! Then I remembered an e-mail I had received from Fidelity. I went on-line to read the FAQs and then called to speak with a real human being. I grilled the poor guy. Question after question - each one asked with a challenge in my voice - and to every single question I got the “right” answer. My challenging voice changed to incredulity when I said O.K., this mySmart Cash Account sounds too good to be true. He laughed and said he understood that, but they really would pay us interest and there were no fees.

So we jumped in with both... - well O.K., actually, we dipped a toe in the water. We set up the account and went through all the usual steps to get debit cards and checks. Then we transferred a little bit of money from our local account and waited. Finally, I screwed up my courage and began entering the names of companies we paid on a regular basis. It all went very smoothly. But I waited a few more days. At long last I clicked “Pay Bills” and began entering amounts and the dates we wanted the bills paid. And then I was done.

Done? Bill paying was usually an event around here. But no longer. Now, when the bills come in, I enter them on-line right away, choose the date to pay them and log off. Ta Freakin’ Da! I’m still not completely used to it. Occasionally I feel a wave of anxiety because I can’t remember if I paid a particular bill. But a quick inspection shows it already waiting patiently in the queue to be paid. Ahhhhh....

What really made me a true believer though, was when I entered a bill from a local concern which we pay only annually. Feeling pretty cocky now, I figured what the heck and entered all the information. A few days later the bill was shown under “Recent Payments”. I clicked on “View Detail”. I read the following: “Check # such&such from your account was mailed to so&so on 02/12/2008. Funds for this payment will be withdrawn from your account when the biller cashes the check.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. They wrote a check and mailed it for us! That’s like having people. You know, people who do that sort of thing for you: business managers, accountants, whomever - people! I really like that in a FDIC insured account!


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new millenium, I love the convenience and when I first got my debit card, I almost tossed my cookies! No way could I do this and after a few months, I haven't looked back.

I can't remember what a check looks like.


dancingmorganmouse said...

Wait, you mean you go online, pay the bill and instead of electronically transferring the funds from your account the bank writes a cheque and posts it!!! That’s so unbelievably quaint, and … well just mind blowing.
I still have a cheque book, for paying tradies (contractors) since they don't take plastic and I don't like handling large wads of cash.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Gail -
Thanks! This new millennium feels pretty darn good!
So far, the only checks we've needed to use have been to set up a direct deposit and a couple of monthly withdrawals. It's great!

Hi DMM -
Yes! All the other transactions have been electronic. But that's exactly how it worked in this case and quaint is the right word! I don't think there were gentlemen sitting at tall desks with visors and sleeve garters, dipping quill pens in the inkwell - but somehow a check was written and mailed! It blew us away!
- Lee

purpleronnie said...

Hehehehee - YOu are so cute!!! I told you so...

Pink Granite said...

Hi Ronnie -
LOL! Feel free to say I told you so!
I am so grateful that you all encouraged us to give this a whirl!
Thank you!
- Lee

Roo said...

hey hey - Sorry I had to laugh, the thought of a cheque being sent out is just so gratifying in this day and age.

I took the electronic plunge years ago, the biggest difficulty is when someone pays me a cheque, as it's a real fart on to get it processed (that is an English banking technical phrase apparently) ;o)

barbie2be said...

that's so cool. i keep trying to talk my landlord into setting up a paypal account for our rent. :(

Pink Granite said...

Hi Roo -
We have just been faced with our first check to be deposited. If we run into any difficulty, I'll be sure to use the technical term!
- Lee

Hi B2B -
Using PayPal to pay the rent! Now that's something I never would have thought of! Very clever!
- Lee