Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bell Bill Layout Increases Odds of Underpayment

When my wife and I were paying our most recent stack of bills, we nearly underpaid our Bell bill. We could certainly be blamed for being inattentive, but the layout of the bill doesn’t help.

The first page of our Bell bill contains the summary information including the grand total to be paid for the month. The left side of the page has this total. However, the right side of the page repeats the same information, but without HST for some reason. Both sides have a highlighted total amount that draws your eye.

When we have our banking application open and all that is left to do is type in the amount to send to Bell, it’s easy to type in the total on the right rather than the real total on the left. The fact that the left side is in a slightly larger font helps a little but it seems inevitable that we’ll make a mistake at some point.

We haven’t made this mistake yet but presumably the consequence would be interest and/or late fees. Have any readers been caught by this? How punitive were the consequences?


  1. I noticed this too when reviewing my Bell TV bill. I didn't get caught underpaying since I have set up automatic credit card payments. It is confusing, sometimes when they post the new monthly bill I can't even find where to view the detailed portion.

  2. Of course, I'm talking about online since I have e-bill's set up. I can't believe it's just as bad with the paper bill.

  3. I got caught, there is a "penalty charge" I think it's $5, I love this service.

  4. @Echo: It's good to know that the bill layout will be just as bad if I switch to e-billing.

    @Potato: Yup, that's what my bill looks like. It's been a long time since I had a positive interaction with Bell. They called me a few days ago to "save" me some money. I just kept saying "but that sounds like it costs more" until it was time to hang up.

    @Big Cajun Man: Did you mail them 500 pennies?

  5. Posting a sanitized version of the bill would be helpful for non bell readers. Us rogers customers might get jealous even. ;)

    PS I know you were kidding but seriously, paying a bill in pennies just makes a poor clerk's life worse and they don't set policy anyway.... (you hear about people doing that every once in a while)

  6. @Anonymous: Check out the link in Potato's post for an example of a Bell bill with the problem.

    I once paid a fast-food bill in the U.S. with nickels and dimes. I had collected them for years and decided it was time to get rid of U.S. change. AT the time the U.S. dollar was worth about 1.5 times the Canadian dollar.

  7. Things like this make me happy that I no longer have any Bell services. I've moved to using MagicJack as my home phone and for $30/year i'm happy with it.

  8. Check your bill if you get a credit because Bell does not credit the taxes you paid on the original amount. Also, you pay your programing for a 1 month block (eg $30), then if you make a programing change causing adjustments, they will not refund 1 month (ie $30), they will calculate by individual days overlapping billing dates which ends up totaling more thereby decreasing your credit. I am positive Bell nets large sums of money from these tricky billing practices.