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If You Use T-Mobile and Pay Your Bills Via EasyPay,

check your bank statement or credit card statement. I recently noticed that they charged me $939.08 (likely as a result of a $93.90 bill around that time, though I can't be sure), and then the next month $287.36 (even though I at that point had a massive credit as a result of the $939.08, and even though my monthly bill was far less than that). They seem to be quite willing to fix it, though the fixing process has itself not been free of errors. But if you are a T-Mobile customer, and use the EasyPay feature, you might want to see if a similar error has happened to you.

Joe Kowalski (mail):
Are there really readers here that would miss a deduction from their account 10 times the size of their normal cell phone bill?
3.30.2009 5:15pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Volokh:

I have t-mobile and easy pay. You don't have to wait for the automatic deduction, even though you have easy pay. Just go ahead and pay the bill before the easy pay date by phone or internet, and that prevents the (erroneous) automatic deduction from occurring.
3.30.2009 5:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Joe: My sense is that many people don't look at their credit card bills or bank statements as carefully as they should.

Dilan: To me, the value of EasyPay is precisely so I don't have to take the time to pay the bill. (Admittedly, that is a false economy if the consequence is this sort of error, but I was hoping they'd be more reliable than they've proven to be.)
3.30.2009 5:27pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I know, Professor Volokh. But in my plan, I still save $5 a month for using easy pay even though I don't actually let them take the money out of my account by paying first. I figure I'm still getting a good deal.

But yeah, these guys have proven themselves untrustworthy at taking money out of people's accounts (in addition to not delivering a decent signal on Wilshire Blvd. [grin]).
3.30.2009 5:39pm
Houston Lawyer:
T-Mobile seems to have the coolest phones. However, I sometimes wander off the freeway by more than a 1/4 mile, so I need a provider with wider coverage.
3.30.2009 6:09pm
themighthypuck (mail):
Verizon never screws up (in my case). That said, with Verizon the numbers you quote wouldn't be errors.
3.30.2009 6:21pm
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
I worked for Sprint for 3 years. You don't know the half of it. I dealt with this, and worse, every day.
3.30.2009 7:05pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
T-mobile put a $200+ fee on my credit card even though I have only a prepaid phone with them that did not need to be recharged. On the phone with them for 45 minutes, transferred to 7 different departments and no one was able to say what it was for or why.

My credit card company deleted it when I challenged it, but it appeared again 2 months later. The credit card company again deleted it and I closed the card and got a new number.

Beware t-mobile!
3.30.2009 7:28pm
LibertyCowboy:
T-Mobile is actually one of the few companies that haven't done anything to me I didn't like (in my 8 years or so as a customer).

In contrast, I still have a grudge against Verizon, AT&T, &Sprint for trying to sell/service long-distance when I used land-based telephones.
3.30.2009 7:37pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
Bearing in mind that I use a Tracfone and, after loading it with 900 minutes and 15 months of service, am worried about trying to figure out how to spend the last 498 minutes of that balance in the two months I have before I need to buy more time...

It'd be an amazing stroke of luck for anyone to be able to charge me $1000 and actually get it from my checking account. The only time I ever have that much money available is when I know I'm about to go buy something or pay the rent. Heck, when any bill is more than $5 off (plus or minus) of what I expect, every place I deal with knows they can expect a call in a day or two. A thousand dollars would be worth a canceled account, as far as I'm concerned.

(for those of you who actually have thousands of dollars sitting in your checking accounts - and I sincerely hope you're getting some interest off of that, because dang - let me humbly suggest you use a service such as Mint.com, which can email you whenever a transaction over a certain size shows up on any account.)
3.30.2009 10:13pm
Barry P. (mail):
I have Verizon, and I use their auto-pay function. They send me a text message and an e-mail telling me how much I am being billed every month. You have to willfully not pay attention to miss the amount charged.
3.31.2009 12:45am
Smokey Behr:
I don't do the EasyPay, because the bill due date and my paycheck deposit date never coincide. It's easy enough to just enter all the info every month.
3.31.2009 3:11am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
for those of you who actually have thousands of dollars sitting in your checking accounts - and I sincerely hope you're getting some interest

These days checking accounts pay about 1/2 percent interest (about 41 cents a month on $1000) so it's not really worth bothering with. Even special offer money market accounts are at about 2%. The days of interest that meant anything are gone for now.

Back in 1986 when interest was 12% I sold my law practice and travelled around the world living on the interest. (It wasn't much money, I stayed at hostels.)
3.31.2009 12:23pm
spider:
It's part of Angela Merkel's master scheme for Germany to free-ride on our stimulus.
3.31.2009 3:46pm
BRM:
I knew there was a reason I chose not to sign up for Easy Pay. I figure anything that makes it easier for someone to take my money without me noticing is a bad idea.
3.31.2009 8:35pm
BABH:
It seems, doesn't it, that billing "mistakes" always favor the company, not the consumer. I have caught erroneous charges from cable companies, phone companies, grocery stores, credit card bills, etc. Curiously, I have never been overcharged by a municipal utility, and the only mistake that was ever in my favor was made by the IRS.

It almost makes one believe that procedures exist to minimize billing errors, but that private companies choose deliberately not to use them.
4.1.2009 12:53pm

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