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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

155: Double Check Your Auto-Pay Bills

Updated: Jun 18

Howdy! This what not what I intended to write about today but I'm in a ranting mood so let's go!

I moved to College Station from Austin back in, oh, let's say January of 2022. Immediately I set up the internet. Husband works from home so there was no wiggle room to delay. My previous apartment complex forced tenants into a phone, internet, and Television plan despite us not having a home phone nor any desire to watch cable. I argued against the obligation, lost, and paid. So, upon moving I was glad at having a choice and compared local internet providers, choosing an affordable plan that met my home's needs.

During the initial call with Suddenlink, the provider my husband and I agreed upon, they offered us a year free of HBO Max. We don't use streaming services and declined. The closest we have to a streaming service is what's included in my Amazon Prime package and we don't even use that, to the extent that Amazon sent us a letter alerting us what shows were included in our package, in case we simply hadn't been aware. As an aside, we're also cancelling Amazon Prime before the auto-renewal since they've been declining in service and quality for ages.

Anywho, once the internet was set up, utilizing our own modem and whatnot to avoid another bill and property to be returned when we inevitably move again, I set up auto-pay. My husband had dealt with customer support, picked our plan, and I paid the bill. That was our first mistake. See, I didn't ask him how much we'd agreed to pay and for what. The second was not checking my auto-pay bills this whole time. I saw the payments come out, figured that's what we all agreed upon, and carried on my merry way. Suddenlink was purchased by Optimum in April of 2022. What emails we received expressed that nothing was to change on our end other than the site we'd be logging into should there be a need, going forward.

Fast forward to today, June 17, 2024, and I've had a bit of a morning. I woke up to a notification alerting me to possible fraud on my credit card. My annual auto-payment renewal for my Wix site (yes, this site) was set to come out but my bank flagged it as fraud. I sent back confirmation to my bank that, no, this wasn't fraud, that the large payment was mine and necessary. Figured that was handled, until a couple of hours later when Optimum texted me that my monthly payment didn't go through. It's on the same card, so I assumed they charged it between when my bank flagged the Wix charge, and when I notified them it was valid.

Hopping on the Optimum site, I double checked my auto-pay info was correct. It was, so I hit up the online customer support chat. My first assistant was Peter. I explained about Wix and the bank, and asked that he run my card again and let me know if it went through. While I can see the Wix transaction as Pending on my account, I saw no indication that Optimum had even tried to charge me. Peter agreed to do so, then left me on read for over a half hour. I'd been using the mobile site, but logged in on the desktop while waiting, and pulling up the same conversation, asked for an update there. Peter appeared in the chat anew, introduced himself, and was promptly replaced by Debbie who asked me not to disconnect, when not only had I not done so, but I have the conversation open on two platforms in case one dropped.

But whatever, I reiterated the issue to her. She repeated that the auto-payment had failed, and rather than asking that she run the card again because I had zero desire to be left on read, I suggested swapping the card. Yes, I prefer bills on my credit card for points, but I had a hunch they weren't allowed to run the card again the same day and weren't being forthright about that. Otherwise I couldn't understand Peter ghosting me the first time.

I asked if I should swap the auto-payment card, whether the charge would come out today, on the due date, or if it was better to make a manual payment, then set up auto-pay anew. She suggested the second, I thanked her, and set about swapping cards. Which should've been the end of my morning hassle, assuming the Wix charge rightfully goes through after my having notified the bank (which remained to be seen). Except, during all this back and forth and the long waits, I'd gone over the bill I never bother to look at.

What caught my eye was the discrepancy between the amount due today and the total balance. I pay $78.98 per month and that was listed as the amount due today. However, the total balance was about $20 higher. I looked to the bill to understand why, and while it didn't clarify that remaining balance after the amount paid, it did list a phone payment in the usual bill tally. I don't own a home phone and my mobile phone is part of a family plan under AT&T with my in-laws, and I'm unable to leave this plan if I wanted to.

Pulling up customer service chat again, I asked why I'm being billed for a non-existent phone. The bot kept telling me to read my bill, so I gave up and asked for a human who referred me to a separate Optimum site focused on phones rather than internet. Thoroughly frustrated now, I asked their useless bot the same question, then demanded a human, and they tried to send me back to the Optimum Internet site.

To clarify, I received the initial Optimum alert of an auto-pay issue at 10:39am. By 1:02pm, I was forced to call their customer support. For once, the wait was brief. Pam picked up and listened while I explained that I never agreed to paying for a non-existent phone nor HBO Max and not only do I want these removed from my future bills, but I want a refund on these hidden additions I never agreed to. Pam admitted that was above her paygrade and passed me to, I believe her name is pronounced AniyaWho upon hearing me out, asked how I let this go on for two years without complaining sooner? Rude, but valid. I, wrongfully, foolishly, trusted a corporation not to rip me off, which is always a mistake. I explained about having auto-pay set up, and this being the first time I've had a reason to glance at my bill in all that time.

Aniya put me on hold, returned, and said she had a deal for me. If I switched to using Optimum for my mobile phone, my plan would include free calling and texting, while still including the discounted home phone, which merged with my internet bill would bring the payment down to $50 per month. I explained how I'm part of an AT&T family plan and that it is not possible for me to switch to using Optimum as my cell phone provider AND that I do not own a home phone. She replied that in that case she could remove the phone discount and bring my internet bill up to $89 per month. It was at that point I stated she and I don't seem to be connecting and that I would prefer to speak to a manager. She put me on hold, returned and asked if her manager could call me back. I agreed that would be for the best and have been waiting for a call back ever since. The call concluded at 1:29pm. It's 2:45pm.

~3:39pm Update~

I waited an hour for the manager to call and they didn't so I called back, re-iterating the issue to the first poor soul (Ashika) to pick up, emphasizing that it has already been clarified that I need a manager to resolve this issue. They passed me to a manager who listened, said they can't refund more than a month back, regardless of whether the landline existed or we used HBO Max. They agreed to refund one month of those fees, but I was dissatisfied and explained I would be seeking a new internet provider.

The manager called the Customer Retention Department, who heard me out. They explained that the phone was part of the package deal which originally afforded me a discount. However, they were willing to remove the phone going forward. Likewise, HBO Max was removed from future bills by a previous customer service representative today. Because I was insistent on a refund of all months already paid for, which goes against company policy, the Retention Representative (I didn't catch his name. Anthony maybe?) looked around for another solution. Apparently as a long-term customer, I've accumulated loyalty dollars equaling a sum of $45, which he agreed to distribute towards the next three bills, so in three $15 payouts going towards my monthly payment. He also went over current promotions, suggesting the $45/month package which would increase my internet from 100mbps to 300mbps and include three mobile lines with unlimited calling and texting. I explained that I am part of an AT&T family plan, that due to family politics, I cannot leave if I wanted to. He opted to honor the discount anyway, so in conclusion, the monthly bill for the next twelve months in $45, rather than $78, and there will be effectively a $15 discount for the first three months (in lieu of a refund), and I have been refunded $30 for the $15 phone line and the $15 HBO Max this past month. I'm to call in a year and seek fresh discounts then.

Anyway, always double check your bills because corporations lean tricksy and false. Anyone who has ever worked in retail, where they push credit cards on non-English speakers and the confused elderly, knows exactly what I'm talking about. I hope you find this helpful! I drop a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!


Howdy! Sorry I haven't been more active on social media lately. I'm editing Soul Walker which requires much time and attention, all while not really lending itself to visual media. Meaning recording myself editing doesn't make as satisfying a timelapse video as woodburning or painting.

I've continued scrapbooking about the dogs but haven't completed a new page yet. I'm low on Pride imagery which is slowing down the process. Yes, Samwise is gay. I am in the middle of a Grinch themed page for Sonmi.

I'm currently reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, though I've made minimal progress since last week.

Some theatres are showing the extended editions of the Lord Of The Rings films and my husband is a huge fan so we've been to see those this past weekend. Saturday was The Fellowship of The Ring, yesterday was The Twin Towers, and today, oddly a Monday, is Return of The King. He and I were discussing the films yesterday and I surprised myself by knowing some LOTR trivia he didn't. Suppose I should consider myself an LOTR fan at this point, having read the main trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Bilbo's Last Song, The Story of Kullervo, and Beren & Lúthien. Still haven't gotten around to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, but I'll pick it up if I find a used copy.

Thanks for stopping by! I drop a newsletter every Monday! Toodles!

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