Woman charged $6,000 for phone bill

January 16, 2008 7:35:26 PM PST
Paying bills online means you don't have to write out that monthly check, but be careful when you're keying in that payment.

Pressing those buttons is easy but it can also be easy to make a mistake. And once you hit that send button on your computer, reversing the error can be very difficult.

Lots of people pay bills online for the convenience. But one time, for Rachel Blanchard of Gilroy, it wasn't so convenient.

"I was supposed to pay $59.84 cents and I ended up paying $5,984 dollars," said Rachel Blanchard from Girloy.

Rachel forgot to put in a decimal point when she paid the bill for her Verizon home phone. She soon learned what a difference a dot makes.

"Evidently I didn't notice I forgot to put the decimal point in. I panicked because that was a lot of money that was going to come out of my checking account," said Blanchard.

And it did come out.

Instead of $59.84, nearly $6,000 dollars got whisked out of her bank account. No problem, she'd just tell Verizon, right? Wrong.

"They were not getting the money at their end and I was pretty frustrated because I said I'm looking at the money online. You got the money," said Blanchard.

Her next bank statement showed this payment. Still, Verizon said, no, it could not confirm it received the money.

"I kept wondering where is that money sitting? If you don't have it and I don't have it, where is it?" said Blanchard.

Rachel arranged a conference call.

"Three-way party phone calls between my bank, Verizon and me, and the bank was telling Verizon we paid you. I never heard back from anybody and my mom said, you know, you need to call seven on your side," said Blanchard.

So she did. We contacted Verizon and soon after, Verizon refunded her money, minus the $59.84 she really owed.

Verizon said the delay happened because it had to first verify the money actually came out of Rachel's account, and wasn't just a computer glitch that showed up as an overpayment. But it apologized for taking so long to refund her money.

Rachel says she still pays her bills online.

"I really pay attention to what I'm doing," said Blanchard.

If this ever happens to you, it's important to find out what procedure the company requires for a refund, and hope that it doesn't take as long as it did in Rachel's case.