Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Old Technology Hurts Everyone

This week, I was shown an example of how some companies refusing to join the 21st century can impact other companies. WaterOne and the City of Olathe each handle a part of my water, sewer, and trash bills. As part of my plan to close my Merrill Lynch brokerage and checking accounts, I have been transferring my various bill payments to my credit card or my Bank of America checking account, depending on whether they offer free credit card payments or not.

Now, KCP&L and Atmos Energy at least allowed me to manage my payment methods online. They both required me to cancel automatic payments, wait two days, and then initiate automatic payments again with the new account information, but it was straightforward enough. WaterOne and City of Olathe, however, require a printed form to be mailed or faxed (ha!) along with a voided check for the new account.

I really don't write many checks. Just about the only time I write checks is when someone offers a discount for paying with "cash." So, I paid for my storm door and my furnace by check, and that's it for the past three years. Except for the homeowners' association dues, but I really shouldn't go into my complaints with them right now. Basically, I don't write checks. When I opened my Bank of America checking account, I didn't get checks with it because...I don't write checks. And I have checks for my E*TRADE brokerage account for those one or two checks a year I do write.

Ah ha! But Waterone and the City of Olathe require voided checks. So, in order to not have to write checks, I had to order checks and void them out. Really, that's what I had to do. The minimum order was 150 checks (thankfully free to me because Bank of America bought my mortgage). I tore out two, wrote "VOID" on them, and put the rest back in the box they came in. What a waste!

WaterOne and the City of Olathe make changing account information a hassle. It cost me time, two stamps, and two envelopes; it cost Bank of America 150 useless checks plus shipping; it cost WaterOne and City of Olathe personnel time to process the hand-written form. You know what's even worse? WaterOne still doesn't even offer paperless billing!

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