Past due notice from Time Warner Cable bill payment

Update, September 11, 2009:

Three months later, Time Warner Cable’s PayXpress problem still does not appear to have been addressed.

Update, June 30, 2009 10:28 a.m.:

I just got off the phone with Cathy Jacobs from Time Warner Cable, who was holding a copy of this blog post. We had a mutually enlightening conversation, and she deleted the $30 fee and “past due” status, about which I was complaining.

My error had been in entering an outdated (but valid) bank routing number into PayXpress. I had copied it from an older check register rather than a current check. Because PayXpress does not execute bank drafts as realtime, ACH transactions, there was a delay of a day or two before the bank rejected the transaction.

The mistake was mine, but Ms. Jacobs agreed that my complaint was valid, and that Time Warner Cable’s messaging about such transactions will be reviewed. She will also work to see that there is some access to the accounts receivable department when such access is warranted.

My own issue has been courteously resolved, and I would advise others to understand that, for now, you should expect a delay between the time a bank draft is submitted via PayXpress and the time the transaction is approved and made by your bank.

Below is yesterday’s original post.

Amy and I have been Time Warner Cable customers since 1989. We have never been late with a payment.

For at least three years now, we have been paying our bills online, via CheckFree, which is apparently now Fiserve.

On May 29, Time Warner Cable sent us the following message via email:


Effective June 30, 2009, e-Bills for your Time Warner Cable service through your current online bill payment provider will no longer be available. You may continue to pay your Time Warner Cable bill statements through your current online bill payment provider; however, beginning June 30, 2009, no additional e-Bills for your Time Warner Cable service will be delivered through your current online bill payment provider.

If you have any questions concerning e-Bills for your Time Warner Cable service, please contact Time Warner Cable at Please do not reply to this automated message.


Time Warner Cable

I had avoided using Time Warner Cable’s online bill payment system because originally it wanted us to approve automatic monthly payments. I don’t like those. I want to initiate each transaction individually. Also, the whole interface just felt questionable.

Now, however, with CheckFree no longer an option, I paid our bill on June 12 using PayXpress, and immediately afterward received an email assuring me, “We have received and are processing your one-time payment of $111.24.” I still have that email.

Fine. So it worked. I checked the bill off my to-do list.

Then, this past Friday night, Amy gasped upon opening an innocuous envelope from Time Warner Cable that we assumed to be promotional junk mail.

It was, instead, a letter postmarked June 16 informing us that the payment had been “returned from your bank for RFI INVALID.” The amount had been added back to our bill, along with a $30 return payment fee. The letter also stated that our “services have been interrupted as a result of this non-payment” (although they hadn’t), and threatened in bold that “interruption of digital phone service may result in loss of your telephone number.

We’ll keep that in mind should we ever consider digital phone service. Really? Lose your phone number that quickly over some sort of glitch?

Also on Friday, we received a statement notice via CheckFree and a paper bill in the mail (but no email statement from Time Warner Cable) informing us in red that our account was “significantly past due” and that $252.48 was due “NOW,” even though our next bill would normally be due July 15 or 16.

Today Amy went, checkbook in hand, to our local Time Warner Cable office. She was ready to pay for both months on the spot, provided the $30 fee and any past due status were removed from our account. She was told that our local office could not handle the matter; that she would have to call the 800 number.

She sat down and called the 800 number. After an extended wait on hold, the customer service representative told Amy that the account was in Mark’s name, and could only be discussed with Mark. (Never mind the email above they sent to AMY.) Additionally, the customer service representative could not phone me at home because she cannot call out.

Meanwhile, another customer, overhearing Amy’s conversation, said that the exact same thing had happened to her using Time Warner Cable’s online bill paying system. She didn’t want to pay the $30 fee either.

Amy paid the double balance in full, minus the $30 fee, and came home.

I then called Time Warner Cable’s 800 number, waited on hold, and finally spoke with a customer service representative named Katie.

Katie told me that the matter had to be referred to the accounts receivable department which would issue a ruling, and that I might possibly hear from them in a couple of days.

I told Katie that this was not satisfactory, that I needed to talk to someone and get this resolved. Could I talk to accounts receivable?

No, Katie told me. Accounts receivable cannot be phoned. Their extension is unknown.

Now I was getting extremely irritated. I asked whether Katie had a supervisor that I could speak with. She said she did.

After another long wait on hold, China came on the line and asked me what she could do for me today.

We went back over the situation, and when I insisted that there could be no problem with my bank and that I pay all of my bills online and on time, she suggested that perhaps I made a typo in entering my bank account number. If I had, she said, then I would have to be responsible for the $30 fee. All of this is up to accounts receivable, to whom the matter will now be referred.

So here I wait at the crux of a very interesting problem. I know that I entered my bank account number very deliberately — but sure it’s possible that I nevertheless made a typo. I have absolutely no way of knowing, apart from what Time Warner Cable may or may not eventually tell me.

That’s an automatic $30? There’s no error message from their billing system, no email notice to me, no chance to correct anything, no recourse — just a $30 fee, a “past due” status, and a hastened due date for the next bill — all adjudicated by an unreachable accounts receivable department?

I’m really steamed. I pay bills and buy things online all the time and nothing like this has ever happened before. I mean yes, I have made typos — but the system always responds with an error message.

This is customer service? This is legal under state and federal trade and consumer protection laws? Does anyone know?

I wonder whether any other Time Warner Cable customers — besides myself and that woman at the local office today — have experienced the same issue using TWC’s “PayXpress” system. Are we the only two who have made a $30 typo, or is this something which happens more frequently?

That’s my experience. Please let me know yours.

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