Looking for some advice for dealing with this banking issue

I recently switched to doing my banking through Higher One. In early February, I sent an online bill payment for my storage unit that he claims he never received. It’s the first online bill payment I’ve sent from this bank to this recipient and the first online bill payment I’ve sent from this bank that was a paper check, although I did send online bill payments from my previous bank to him without issue. Online, it says the payment was processed although I’m not sure if that means they sent it out or the check has been deposited and made it back to my bank. I’ve verified that the address I typed in is correct.

At this point, I can’t contact either one until Monday but I’m not sure what to say to either and I have a feeling the bank is going to give me the run-around. I’m a little concerned about my $96 that seems to have gotten lost between here and there. I figure you guys probably have some advice on how to handle the situation.

Has the $96 amount been deducted from your bank balance?

When? (If it was deducted–but it was several days later I am thinking this would mean the bank was handling it like paper checks–which would mean the check had been cashed).

My bank doesn’t take any money out of my account until it’s presented for payment by whoever they sent it to. It looks just like a regular processed check in my online register. Check ###, to Payee, debited on relevant date. If there’s no debit for the check, it’s not paid.

It has been deducted. I think it was deducted when I first submitted the online payment though.

I do online bill payments (through Citibank not “Higher One”, whatever that is), including one to my apartment building management company that’s sent by paper check. Twice in over a decade, the building manager said the check was not received. In both cases, I contacted Citibank via the website and the money was promptly returned to my account. (Even though the money was deducted from my account when I submitted the payment, it was still in a holding pattern of some sort.)

BTW, I didn’t wait for business hours to contact the bank. I just posted a message on the website and received a response shortly thereafter.

So in short, apologize, give the storage operator cash or a paper check, and contact the bank. (And you might pay him a few weeks early and watch to see that he receives the check.)

Moderator Action

Since this is asking for advice, let’s move it to our advice forum (IMHO).

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Really? I thought they were pretty well known since they handle college financial aid accounts at many if not most colleges in the United States, assuming you’re from here.

Back on topic, I’ll probably mail off a money order this weekend and call the bank Monday since they don’t appear to have any way to contact them before then. I tend to pay several months in advance and don’t receive an invoice until fairly shortly before it’s due, so I’m a little perturbed that I apparently can’t rely on automatic bill pay to get the job done. I guess I’ll have to figure something out. Thanks for the advice.

It will totally depend on your bank, but you won’t get the runaround. I don’t work for that bank, but I do work for a bank, and I handle requests like these every day. We use a third party called Metavante for billpay, and they handle billpay for a LOT of small regional banks. So there’s a chance your bank handles these requests like I would:

We pull funds immediately when a billpay is sent out, but that doesn’t mean the payment can’t get mangled en route, misdirected, or lost by the USPS (doesn’t happen often, but it does happen). Check your bill payee’s information and make sure the address is **exactly **correct. If you misspelled the city or the zip is off by a digit, it may eventually be returned, although you don’t have to wait that long. You should be able to contact your bank on Monday and ask them to do a stop payment because the check never arrived.

When we do billpay stops, they’re free and the funds are returned to your account on the next business day. Then you can make the payment again, although I’d recommend using another method. When I talk to my customers, I recommend avoiding billpay altogether unless our vendor has an electronic relationship with them. All it saves you is the cost of a stamp and the time it takes to write a check. Because all they’ll do is mail a check in your name, which usually takes longer to arrive than if you wrote and mailed it yourself. And it’s more prone to error because it goes through more pairs of hands.

It’s not a small regional bank, but you’re probably right about how it works. I made sure nothing on the address was misspelled. I’ll call them to stop it and send a money order.

Despite it being a checking account, I never bothered to get any checks. I rarely used them when I did have them and would prefer just not to have them. I’ll have to go through a little extra trouble of going to the post office and getting a money order. Granted it’s not as much trouble as what I’m having to go through now, but you can see why the automatic bill pay seemed a lot more convenient.

I’d rather not pay the money order fee. In a case like this, I would prefer to provide the vendor with my checking account/routing number do a single direct debit. If they didn’t offer that, I’d give them my debit/credit card info over the phone. If they didn’t take that, I’d find a different storage unit, lol. But different strokes!

Checks are a last resort for me, but I’m still glad to have them. The only thing I use them for are birthdays/Christmas and paying rent, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable not having a checkbook.

For small business owners that are used to receiving personal checks in handwritten envelopes with an actual stamp on them, it’s easy for them to overlook bank-written checks. They don’t look like payments, but rather like invoices because they come in an envelope with a window, with the receiver’s name typed, and they have a machine-inked stamp, etc.

In over a decade of doing online banking, only twice have I had a vendor claim to not receive payment. Both were very small business owners who weren’t used to receiving anything but hand-written checks.

I worked in retail banking a while back (those stone coins were a bitch to roll) and from that experience and everything I’ve observed since, people as a whole have three weird assumptions about banks:

[li]They are some sort of public service agency that should do everything free for their customers. The more demanding the customer and the more offbeat and complex his/her needs, the more they think this.[/li][li]Putting some small amount of money in the bank (e.g. the average paycheck) and drawing it all back out within days is “giving the bank their money” and therefore #1.[/li][li]If the bank charges for something they plainly tell the customer they’re going to charge for, it’s the bank’s fault and a ripoff of the customer and the solution is to take all their valuable money (see #2) and open an account across the street.[/li][/ol]
3a is to never open an account anywhere else and end up spending a fortune on check-cashing charges, money order fees and the like… but at least banks aren’t ripping them off any more or getting their money for free.
In about 90% of these cases, the problem starts when the customer chooses the very cheapest option with no foresight (10 free checks a month, $1 each after that - in the old days) and then runs off the edge of that narrowly “free”" service… when for perhaps $5 or so a month they get unlimited no-fee services. They never choose the small-regular-fee option because #1.
That said, and having worked for Bank of America and dealt with Chase, I can’t think of a single good thing to say about Well Fucked’em except that they have a great Old West image. Meat grinder bank that preys on those who fail 1-2-3 above.

Never dealt with Higher One, but with most bill pay services with banks, just let them know that the vendor has not received the payment. They will research and check if the payment is still outstanding. If you give them the telephone # of the vendor, the bank will normally contact the vendor directly and try and figure it out for you.

I just called them and they’re going to cancel the old check and send a new one including the $3 late fee. To be on the safe side, I’m also going to visit the post office and send a money order. He’s going to receive six or seven months rent at once. That should make him happy.

By the way, yesterday a couple of hours after I cancelled the old check, he received it. I suppose at least it proves to him that I wasn’t lying about the situation, not that I think he suspected me anyway.

Aw, man. Of course it arrives after all that! Now curious how long it will take for the replacement.