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
Chattanooga

* * * 

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




Roy Exum: I Know About Dowries

There is a lawyer in Kenya who wants to meet President Barack Obama very badly. He knows the President will visit Kenya in July and the noble, young lawyer, Felix Kiprono, is very sincere when he says he wants to marry the oldest of the Obama daughters, 16-year-old Malia. He became interested in Malia in 2008 and can proudly say he has dated no other women since then, it has just ... (click for more)

County Officials Need To Provide A Decent Animal Shelter - And Response (2)

Once upon a time, a group of citizens concerned about the decaying building housing the Humane Educational Society on Highland Park raised their voices in an outcry about the deplorable state of the HES facility and the over-population of unwanted and unspayed/unneutered cats and dogs in Hamilton County.   What happened then was that the City Council stepped ... (click for more)

Circuit Court Jury Gives $20,599,000 Verdict In Favor Of Canyon Ridge Developers; Punitive Damages To Be Added

A Hamilton County Circuit Court jury on Thursday awarded $20,599,000 to the developers of Canyon Ridge on Lookout Mountain against a financial firm that allegedly secretly started working on a rival project. The jury also said the plaintiffs are due punitive damages. The amount will be set on Monday morning in the courtroom of Judge J.B. Bennett after each side gives 20-minute ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Loses Bicycle National Championships To Winston-Salem

After a three-year run, Chattanooga is losing the national championship bicycle races. Winston-Salem, N.C., has been selected to serve as the host city for the 2016 and 2017 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & TT National Championships. The 2016 Volkswagen USA Cycling Pro Road & TT National Championships will be held May 22-30. The nine-day event will combine the ... (click for more)

Harris Leaves Tyner For Administrative Job At Dalewood Middle

(Story has been updated) Long-time Tyner Academy boys basketball coach Gerald Harris has resigned his coaching position to accept a job as assistant principal at Dalewood Middle School. Harris, 49, was offered and accepted the administration job last Friday and met with last year’s team on Tuesday to break the news to those players. “I’ve been coaching a long time ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: Giving With A Cheerful Heart

Recently a program was started called, "Dining Out For Life," benefitting people who are affected by HIV. Tonight  several local restaurants will be partnering with Chattanooga Cares to raise money to support the organization's nutrition assistance program. There is a big need for fresh fruit and vegetables and the funds raised this evening will go to support that need. ... (click for more)