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Autopay? Stay away!

With all of the crazy demands on our time and the uncountable things we need to deal with as small business owners, it's no surprise that we are always looking for ways to save some of that precious time.

Much of that time is spent sorting through and paying bills. Many companies now offer online bill payment options. And it is so much easier to pay the bills from your desk without having to deal with writing checks and addressing envelopes, not to mention making sure that the payments actually get mailed. But these companies also are pushing some form of autopay which means that you give them permission to take the money directly out of your account without any action on your part.

While this option seems like the quickest and easiest way to pay bills, it is also ripe for abuse or at least a high level of inconvenience. Since you have no control over when the money is taken out of your account, it can come at a moment when you need the funds for other purposes. And this feature is often associated with what are being called “predatory banking practices.” Without your even being aware of it, your rates can steadily creep up and the amount deducted from your account is constantly increasing. Something you would be more likely to catch if you were looking at the bills before paying them.

But the biggest problem with autopay is that once you let these guys into your account, it's almost impossible to get them out. We have had some companies become so outrageously pernicious that we resorted to closing the account in order to stop them from slurping money out of it. We have had charges appear that were not even from companies with which we had arrangements like this and trying to get that sorted out through the bank is an all day job.

Ultimately we decided that this convenience is not even close to being worth the potential aggravation.


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