Many people like the convenience of paying bills with automatic withdrawals from their bank accounts. Having all your utility bills and other regular payments paid automatically is definitely a time-saver as long as no mistakes are made.
I don’t like the lack of control that comes with automatic withdrawals from my bank account. I avoid them as much as possible. Past experiences where I had to beg a business to stop taking money they had no business taking made an impression.
In these situations I found my bank to be of little help. Although it may not be a bank’s official policy, I’ve been told that they will give any reputable business money from my bank account if the business asks for it. Banks have made it clear to me in the past that the best way to deal with problems is to work them out with the business making the withdrawals.
My wife is caught in a saga of improper withdrawals right now. My son wanted to use a Goodlife Fitness gym this past summer. She and I approved of an activity that didn’t involve playing video games, and she set about arranging to pay for a membership for the summer.
Strangely, Goodlife didn’t seem able to accept a full payment for the summer months. My wife tried several things, but they were adamant that the only way to pay was by automatic bank account withdrawal each month. She was told that my son could cancel his membership at the end of the summer without penalty.
With some uneasiness, my wife agreed to this arrangement. However, after my son cancelled the membership at the end of the summer, the predictable happened: the automatic withdrawals continued. We have now paid for an additional four months.
After some effort, we now have a promise from Goodlife that the withdrawals will stop, but no word yet on getting our money back. Our confidence that the withdrawals will actually stop is not tremendously high. We’ll have to wait and see.
Even if we are ultimately able to straighten all this out and get our money back, we’ve still lost because of the aggravation and time spent. This experience has strengthened my resolve to avoid automatic bank account withdrawals in the future.