Why you should never, ever use electronic bill pay

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From  LA Times reporter David Lazarus’ ongoing nightmare in which Verizon tried to withdraw nearly $10,000 dollars from his Bank of America checking account:

Elliot woke up Tuesday morning to another notice from BofA saying something was amiss with his account. Turns out Verizon had once again billed his account for the entire $9,993.88 — and this time BofA paid the bill.

This resulted in Elliot losing the $781 he had in his checking account and then owing more than $9,200 to the bank.

So I contacted BofA. Tara Burke, a bank spokeswoman, said the way the online bill-pay system works is that if insufficient funds exist in an account, the first two attempts by a business to withdraw funds will be rejected.

But if the business tries a third time, the transaction will be processed.

It appears that for now anyway, he got the money back.  But that only occurred after he informed both the bank and the telephone company that he was writing a story about it that would appear in a major metropolitan newspaper.  Unless you’ve got the same leverage, and a perverse desire for aggravation, pay your bills by check.

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