Our New Sewer Bill Has Extra Costs - And Response (5)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I have recently received my new sewer bill and noticed there is no way to pay this bill without accruing additional fees. The options presented are quoted here: 

"Mail-In Payments:  Payments by check, payable to The City of Chattanooga, TN must be mailed to the Payment Processing Center address shown on the invoice. Do not mail cash.  Do not mail payments to the local city office in Chattanooga.  Payments mailed to any location other than the Payment Processing Center of the City of Chattanooga, TN, P.O. Box 12001, Hemet, CA 92546-8001 will delay processing which may result in late charges and/or disruption of water services." Some customers do not have a way to pay this bill with a check (i.e. me). I am sure (though it is not specified) customers would be able to pay with a money order, but again customers would accrue a fee (cost of the money order) in addition to the billed amount since cash connote be mailed. 

"24 Hour/Day Pay-Buy-Phone: Credit card, and check payments can be made through our 24-hour Automated Payment phone system by calling  (888) 673-9479. A $3 convenience fee will be added to your transaction."  A $3 convenience fee added to this option equals more than customers owe.

"24 Hour/Day Pay-Via-Web: Credit card, debit card, and check payments may be made on the City website. A $3 convenience fee will be added to your transaction." Customers still have to pay more than is owed. 

"Walk-in Payments: Cash and debit card payments can be made at selected retail locations. A list of locations is available online at www.chattanooga.gov. A processing fee will be added by the establishment. Processing fees vary by establishment." I have personally looked into this option and, the establishments are not yet configured on the website. I called customer service to locate the establishments; not yet established. Jody, who answered the line, assured me there will be a processing fee at all locations.

"Recurring Payments: Customers may choose to have their bill paid automatically through the Recurring Payment Program. Payments are processed  on the invoice due date for the full balance on the account plus a $3 convenience fee. Declined or returned payments are subject to bank charges and collection fees." Again, results in customers paying more than stated amount due." 

I was wondering if anyone else has noticed this problem in the Chattanooga area?  Why should another party have their hands in my pocket in order to pay a debt owed to another? Is this legal? As we all know, times are tight. I am sure there are many others like me and, even worse off, who would like to pay what is owed and no more.

James W. Betbeze

* * * 

Mr. Betbeze, these extra "convenience" fees were the first thing I noticed when I read my new sewer bill. A $3 fee is equivalent to a 10 percent fee on my bill of $30. Charging me an extra ten percent just for the privilege of paying my debt is outrageous. 

Since the time you wrote this, Mr. Betbeze, the website has been updated with the available payment locations: Wal-Mart stores. In my experience, a trip to Wal-Mart is never convenient.

The city must offer at least two truly convenient locations where customers can pay in person with cash or check, without incurring extra fees.

Jeremy Barrett

* * * 

James, thank you  for pointing out the excessive "processing" fees. Don't you think a billing and payment processing firm could have been found a little closer than California? Chattanooga, perhaps? You know, J.O.B.S.? 

When I get my bill, I'm going to pay it at one of the 25 conveniently located "Art of Change" meters scattered across the city.  

David Unruh

* * * 

I got mine, and I will send a check. Blame the bloodsuckers at TAWC for this, not the city. 

We should have and still should take them over. 

Mark Rudisill

* * * 

Yes, I will blame the city. They are the ones that are making us pay a fee to pay them money. Or mail it to California, really? How much does it cost the city for that payment center to process the payments? 

Elaine Cornwell

* * *

Just got mine today. 

I, too, noticed that the new company charges $3 as a "convenience" to take our money. But in many cases, so does the TAWC. 

This company apparently is not connected with the TAWC but the sewer charge is obviously related to water usage with total disregard for water used for purposes that don't result in discharge into our sewer system. Then, again, so did did the TAWC. 

And, not connected with the TAWC, but your water service will be terminated if the sewer bill is not paid. In their defense, however, what recourse would they have for those (most of us) who wouldn't pay this bill otherwise, except to pump your sewage back to you. 

And, the return envelope is addressed to the city of Chattanooga, TN in Hemet, CA. The city of Chattanooga, TN is not in Hemet, CA. Didn't fool me for a minute. 

With all due respect, little as is due, to our current mayor, this problem (recapturing sewer maintenance and repair costs) has been brewing for a very long time. Now we're stuck footing a large bill for previous department and financial mismanagement.  Familiar theme in government these days, no? 

Jim Stevens

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