Paying my rent online...WTF?

My apartment building recently changed owners. We can now pay our rent online. Going to their website I find the following: a $15 “convenience fee” is added to the payment! WTF! Wouldn’t it be easier for them to have renters pay online rather than fuck with the envelopes and checks? Seems crazy!

They’re already paying someone to deal with envelopes and checks, so that’s already part of the rent.

Now they have to pay for the website (whether they built it or have to pay a fee to use it) and credit card fees. And they have to keep paying for the person who deals with the checks and envelopes.

Not saying it’s not shitty for you, I totally would be pissed about it too. But that’s why it costs extra.

They’re almost certainly using an outside payment service to process it, and that’s what the outside service is charging. Not long before I moved, my old apartment complex added online rent payment…but the service they used charged a percentage-based fee. It was insane; for some of the apartments in the complex, the fee would have been over $100. I went to the manager and showed her the math, and saw the light bulb come on; they were looking for a new service when I moved out. I’m sure whoever they found still charges a hefty flat fee, though.

The company that financed my truck is the same way.

I have to pay a fee if I pay online, I have to pay a fee to pay over the phone.
The only way to avoid the fee is mail it in or let them take automatic payments.

This is one of those stupid things where, yes, a fee might be necessary to offset costs, but the business should still eat the cost if they want more people to use it. Like gas stations charging $0.45 for debit, even though IIRC the VISA/MC policy forbids it. The card has fees, but is it worth the added negatives? The end result is that they charge for an automated process, but not for one that requires someone to staff phones, go to the bank and deposit, etc.

You can check if your bank has bill pay. I doubt your landlord will show up on there, but mine has an option to pay individuals. I believe they just essentially issue a check in your name and mail it to them. The catch is that it could take 5 days or so to get to them, so plan accordingly. I’d test it first; pay a few cents to yourself or a friend and see how it works out.

Rant: one of my insurances is paid every 6 months. They send me the bill and the damn thing is due in ~5 days. Not a good window.

How much training would it entail to have that person also do the online payments? How hard can it be?

I checked into paying our HOA dues online and they wanted a $10 fee for each payment. Yeah, no thanks. Until that becomes more reasonable (like, FREE for bank drafts, for example) I guess I’ll keep a checkbook around for the one check a month I still have to write.

Yeah, and then there’s the opposite case where paying online is cheaper than in person, as I discovered with Spirit Airlines. Check in and pay for your baggage online, and it’s $20 for the bag. At the check-in terminal at the airport? $45. Wish we had known that before we paid. We assumed it was an error, so paid the $45, brought the ticket to the counter, and showed them the web page that said it was $20. Only then were we informed that the price is for online check-ins only. In other words, we could have checked in on our phones at the airport, and paid $20. But since we didn’t realize that, we paid $45 for using the check-in terminal. What an utterly bizarre pricing scheme. There’s a myriad reasons why I never want to fly Spirit again. That is a big part of it.

They are paying a service to process the online payments. But at the same time they have to keep someone on the payroll to continue to process checks (they might have a million other jobs, but still, the cost of this person is already included in your rent.) That is why the service is an additional cost, and paying by check is not.

Online payments that are done electronically are done in the US through the Automated Clearing House system of the Federal Reserve or through EPN, a private ACH network. Dealing with the ACH system requires some technical infrastructure and specialized expertise, so most companies who want to receive electronic payments outsource the job to companies like the one I work for.

My company provides services to banks and payees. Most of the banks pay our small transaction fee and don’t charge their customers, while most of the payees seem to charge many times what we charge them. The easiest way around that, as mentioned by thelurkinghorror, is to find a bank with “pay anyone” online bill payment product and pay your rent through that product. The rental company probably became an electronic remit center when they began offering the ability to pay them on line, so there is a chance that your bank will also be able to pay them electronically. If not, a check payment will be made in your name. Your bank’s online bill payment product should give you an accurate lead time paper payments.

Crotalus is correct. Most companies, especially small ones, don’t want to mess with ACH, the annual rule book for ACH transactions rivals the size of some cities’ phone book.

My apartment complex recently started charging a fee for credit card payments too. I used to be able to walk into the office, hand over my card, and get a receipt in a matter of minutes. Now they don’t accept cards in the office at all. Online they only accept credit cards, no debit cards, and they tack on a fee for each payment.

So I’m back to writing one check a month. One of these days I should set it up through my credit union’s bill pay, but I keep forgetting.

You DO know that Susan B. Anthony CarterQuarter dollars are still in circulation.

Along with two dollar bills.

Just saying…

The office doesn’t accept cash, or else I’d bust out the Ike dollars I have floating around here somewhere. :smiley:

It’s fantastic. I pay all my bills through the Wells Fargo Bill Pay and I love it, if only because I no longer must hunt to find the damn stamps every 25th of the month.

Out of curiosity, if a landlord wants to accept credit card payments, how much is the credit card company going to charge them on a rent payment of $X? (Not counting any website fees, third-party payment service charges, etc.)

That’s what my bank does. If try to send a payment to a company that doesn’t take electronic payments all I have to do is enter it’s mailing address & allow more time for delivery. Yeah, I could just male a check out myself, but this way I don’t have to pay for a stamp.

If the landlord (or other payee) wants to move to all-automated payments, but there’s an extra expense during the transition period, they should eat that expense. The idea should be to encourage payors to shift to on-line or other automated payments. The payee still needs to pay for staff to handle old-fashioned payments, but with the hope that this could be phased out.

A similar thing went on during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with the phone company: They had this big push going on, to encourage everybody to change their phone service from pulse dialing to tone dialing. People ordering new service could still order either way. And tone dialing was more expensive! :dubious:

That was dumb. If the phone company wanted to nudge everybody to move to tone dialing, they should have made it the same price or even less. Even if there were still more expenses to it, they should have eaten that. Same with payees today who want to shift their customers into paying on-line.

Are they requiring you to pay online? If not, just keep sending checks (or postal money orders) in by mail. At some point, they’ll realize getting paid by check is costing them money and if they want people to pay online, they have to make it convenient for the customer and not just themselves.

Hmmm, methinks the Secret Service might just want to have a talk with them. Something about ‘All debts, public and private’…

"there is no Federal statute which mandates that private businesses must accept cash as a form of payment. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise. "

So says the Department of the Treasury, as quoted in several older threads (such as this one) in which this sort of thing has been addressed before.