OK, maybe it’s not that big a deal, but even so, it makes sense. Dollars and cents, too, to city residents.
In the July edition of the city newsletter, “The Flame,” that accompanies utility bills, there’s an emphasis on utility department information and recycling suggestions for those who may be changing or adding services. Apparently 25 percent of all calls to the city’s utility division come in July, when many student rentals begin and end.
That’s all well and good, although perhaps a bit late to be of great help and perhaps preaching to the choir instead of reaching those who truly could benefit from some of the information.
Perhaps of greater concern to city utility customers, however, is the “pay online” option. Says the newsletter:
“Pay your bill online anytime. The city uses an outside vendor that charges a convenience fee of $3.25. Online payments take up to 3 business days to post to your account.”
How ridiculous is all that?
It’s not fathomable why the city clings to this method of online payment, when most progressive companies and utilities offer the real convenience of a free clearinghouse fund exchange that enables the consumer to specify the timing of the electronic transfer of money from a bank account or the timing of a charge to a credit card.
That’s “free” as opposed to a so-called “convenience fee” masquerading as a ripoff. And immediate, as opposed to three days.
So here’s hoping that one of the biggest changes affecting utilities for the city will be a move to a new, improved means of online bill-paying that’s free, immediate and truly convenient.