Monday, December 9, 2013

Mishaps in Money: The Missing Payment

The universal symbol for fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jane who lived in a castle. One day, she had to go to The Doctor’s Office. After her visit, she received a bill in the mail, which she paid, on-time and in full, because she was financially responsible. Yay! Since she was done with the whole thing, she threw the bill away, never giving it a second thought. 

A month later, she received a bill from The Doctor’s Office again. She was confused, but she ignored it since she knew she had paid already. 

Yet another month later, she received the bill again. What was going on? Surely it was a mistake...

Finally, after the bill was sent for the fourth time, she called the Customer Service people at The Doctor’s Office and asked, “Why?” 

Customer Service Representative Steve said that the records indicated that she had NOT paid the bill. At this she was quite distraught, but since they said that she could mail in proof of payment, there was hope. 

“But wait just a minute,” warned Steve, “You need to send it in within 60 days or you’ll go to jail.”  

Jane sighed, because she hated mailing things (what guarantee was there that they would have a record of it this time?), but she followed through, mostly because she didn't want to go to jail. Just in case they messed up again, she scanned all the bills and receipts and kept them on her computer. Yay! And since she was done with the whole thing, she threw all the bills away, never giving it a third thought. 





“Nooooooo, I have to call Customer Service again!” She did not enjoy that activity very much. 

But she called them anyway, and they explained that her single visit to The Doctor’s Office incurred two separate bills, and for some reason, the bills were collected by two different offices. Thus, neither office had a record of the other, which caused Jane some confusion and grief. But it was okay because she kept all the records herself. 

In the end, she paid the second bill as well and decided she would never go to The Doctor’s Office again ever for anything, and she lived happily ever after. 


The moral of the story: always keep records and receipts of payments you make. 

You never know when the people collecting your payment will make a mistake (it happens, and it’s not always their fault). Another tip is to pay online - this might seem counter-intuitive for security reasons, but if you pay online, there’s always a record of the transaction (and is much faster). 

In case anyone was wondering, Customer Service didn't actually threaten me with jail (but everything else did happen). I had to call them a total of five times before I got the thing resolved, and if I hadn't kept my receipts and payment confirmations, I don't know what would have happened. 

Tell me about a time when a payment you made didn't go through. How did you deal with it? 

As always, contact me with questions or suggestions! You can either comment directly on the post or send me an email to 

Photo Credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc


  1. Wow, that's actually fairly horrifying. Sorry about that, Joan.

    However, the medical professional in me suggests that boycotting the Doctor's Office forever and ever is not the correct solution. As you know.

  2. Hehe, of course! Good to have someone so understanding in the medical profession. :)

    Thanks for reading!

  3. But how long do you keep the receipts? I keep mine in my wallet until I re-find them, usually a week or two later. How long do I hold on to them before they start piling up? Also how do you know which ones to keep and which ones to throw away?

  4. It really depends on what kind of habits you are willing to maintain!

    If you know you won't follow through with a filing system, I'd say just get a box and dump everything in (and then you know it will be order, sort of). My mom puts a rubber band around all the receipts from each month.

    Grocery receipts can be thrown away ASAP (you probably won't return broccoli or something). Most other things (clothes, electronics) are safe to throw away after 3 months (some stores give you up to 90 days to return purchases). I always keep receipts for big purchases - you might need them for warranty stuff (especially electronics). But again - if you know you won't follow through with a filing system, just keep everything. :P

    Hope that helps, let me know if you have more questions! :D And thanks for reading!