By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) — When it comes to paying bills, most of us aren’t interested in paying any more than we have to. But some companies are charging consumers an extra fee, if they pay their bill on that company’s website, or on the phone.

Jessica Aguiar thought paying her mortgage directly to her lender over the phone would be easy, but then she found out they would charge her an extra fee.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

“They said it would be $20, and I was just a little bit angry and shocked,” she said.

Jessica’s mortgage company is one of many businesses now making money by charging customers who pay over the phone or online. It’s referred to as “Paying to Pay.”

“If they’re charging me to speak to a customer service representative that I’m already speaking with, I think that’s ridiculous,” she added.

One survey found cable providers, phone companies, banks, and utilities charging anywhere from $2 to $25 to pay over the phone, or on the company’s site.

Consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski believes, “It’s just unacceptable that businesses charge you a fee for the privilege of paying for the service that you’re already paying for.”

It is legal, however, for these types of service providers to charge customers to pay phone or on their site.

Credit cards can only charge a fee for paying if a customer service representative is asked to do an expedited payment.

Nessa Feddis of the American Bankers Association explained, “Under the law, they can charge a fee if it’s for an immediate posting, or an almost immediate posting and there’s a customer service rep involved,”

The ABA believes these fees are appropriate, and reasonable. “The fees are intended to help cover the cost of the worker’s wages and benefits. Frankly, $10 doesn’t sound like a lot when you think about how it’s probably 10-15 minutes for that customer rep,” said Feddis.

Mierzwinksi balks at an explanation like that, saying these businesses have always had customer service representatives. “The banks already had those people working on the phones, and if they’re not collecting payments, they’re trying to sell something else,” he said.

The best strategy is to pay your bill early, either with a check or directly through your bank’s online payment service.

Comments (13)
  1. Maggie says:

    Check your headline spelling, please. It’s customers…not costumers! Typo takes on a different meaning!

    1. just be nice says:

      Maggie don’t be rude help them. Why are you so mad? It is just a typo error.

  2. Just sayin' says:

    So a costumer will get charged for paying the bills but not the customers….thank god!

    1. mark says:

      Thank you for your nice reply. You are right. I did not write it. Let’s all be nice god knows this country needs it.

  3. David Ames says:

    I wish you wouldn’t wipe out my comment while I’m still typing. What rips me is when payment agencies won’t accept a check made out to the company, or when the payment agency wants a dollar or two extra to convert my check to money order. If I wanted a money order, I would buy one and send it in, for goodness’ sake!p

    1. mark says:

      Type it on word..Spell check then copy and paste

  4. DStein says:

    You’ve just got to love banks! I recently went into Bank of America to get a certified check for a major purchase I was making. They wanted to charge me $7 for the check drawn on my own account. So, instead I just withdrew the money I needed, for free, and headed over to another financial institution where I have an account and they gave me a certified check for FREE! Bank of America is one of the worst when it comes to outrageous fees. I keep telling my wife we should close down that account and move it to a friendlier institution.

    I usually pay my bills online including my Capital One VISA. Last month I didn’t remember the due date and missed it by one day. I called them to see of they’d waive the late charge since I had a long history of paying on time and even early in most cases. The answer: No. But the customer service rep. offered to take my payment over the phone for a fee of $12! I told her “No thanks” since I’ve already incurred the late fee they wouldn’t waive and that I’d either mail my payment in or do it online as usual. Why reward them twice with fees for doing basically nothing? The banks must think we’re all dumb! Apparently enough of us are that they are able to reap billions and billions each year on stupid and unnecessary fees.

  5. ek1480 says:

    Maggie, Don’t you have better things to do? You old bag!

  6. These fees you are referring to are called “convenience fees” for a reason. No one is forcing you to wait until the day your payment is due and then call up at the last minute to make a payment. It actually costs a business a lot of money to work with a vendor to set up a means for collecting funds over the internet electronically. If you don’t want to pay the convenience fee, then why not send in a check when you get your bill or go through your bank’s online banking service? You have a choice.

  7. Light says:

    I’m glad that I’ve found your web site.
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  8. Buy cheap OEM software says:

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  9. Becky says:

    I find it messed up when they SELL your loan to a company that charges you to make a payment online at their website a few days early or beyond. It’s ridiculous and I need every cent I can get! A**Holes!!

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