Electronic Bill Payment Problem

erpsJuly 30, 2008

I just started to use Citibank website to do bill payments.

By end of June, I issued an electronic bill payment to a TV Cable company (COMCAST) in New Jersey.

However, a month later no payment has been posted into my account.

I called Citibank they told the payment has been cleared up already.

However the payee appears to be Oceanic Times Warner Cable.

When I went online to add this payee, I typed COMCAST, entered my account number, and then the system pop up "Oceanic Time Warner Cable" in Hawaii in order to make the payment faster. I thought to myself, COMCAST is a big company, and they may be chosen this location in Hawaii for electronic payments. Who knows? But if the system recommended that location, thereÂs going to be a good reason. I trusted the system and I went ahead with the payment.

Anyway, I went to the Comcast local office with a proof of payment but they didnÂt acknowledge it because they said Oceanic Time Warner Cable is a different company.

Back to Citibank, they blame on me for accepting Oceanic Times Warner Cable as COMCAST, and basically what I need to do is call Oceanic Time Warner Cable to get the money back.

I called Oceanic Time Warner Cable, but they said because I am not a customer of them, thereÂs no way to trace that payment; my name is not in their customer list, and my account number doesnÂt match their account number pattern.

How an electronic payment system could do something like this?

First, I typed COMCAST and a different company shown up.

Second, If it was a wrong company how the system deliveries a payment with wrong names and account number? ShouldnÂt the system show up an error or advice a problem with the payment?

Third, what to do in this case?


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My guess is that when your funds were transferred to Time Warner it did generate an error when TW processed the information. TW isn't going to send back the funds, instead they hold them and wait for what they presume to be a customer to call. You can get the routing, account, and transaction numbers from Citibank. Then TW should be able to find the transaction and get your money back.

Next time make sure all the information is correct before you click submit. Or send paper checks...

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:49AM
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You made a mistake in selecting that payee.

Most all bank billpay services have a "prebuilt" selection of common payees -- utility companies, credit card banks, department stores, and so forth. These typically are larger companies that take electronic transfers, and that serve a customer base across a national or regional area. You select one and enter only your customer account number from your bill.

The local doctor's office, small-town water company or little local cable TV service, county electric cooperative, the local ambulance service that carried you to the ER, and other such payees are not likely to be listed. For payees that are not "preset" or already listed, there is also a function to "enter payee information" or whatever it may be called, whereby YOU enter the payee's information from the bill you have -- their name, complete postal address, along with your customer account number. That's what you apparently should have done with ComCast. If the payee is "foreign" to the bank's list of payees that accept electronic transfers, then the billpay system will print and mail a paper check.

I've been using online billpay for several years, and I *never* use the service's preset payees. I *always* enter my payee information to make sure it goes to the correct place and company. You only have to do that once for each payee you set up ... once the info is entered, you have a personal list of payees from which to choose.

Call CitiBank again, explain what happened. They *should* have a way to trace the payment. However, being that it was your mistake, they may enforce a fee to get it fixed ... or being CitiBank (from what I've heard) they may not be inclined to fix it at all.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:38PM
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Thanks for the info.
Yes, Citibank won't fix anything. Basically I need to fix it myself.
I sent a letter to Oceanic Time Warner Cable with the proof of payment attached (amount paid, reference and trace numbers, etc).

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:53AM
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Can you dispute the transaction on the Citibank web site? Just select it and there should be an option for dispute...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 10:18AM
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"Can you dispute the transaction on the Citibank web site?"

Dispute what with Citibank? There's nothing to dispute. The OP asked Citibank to send a payment to Oceanic Time Warner Cable (admittedly, in error), and Citibank sent the payment.

The OP's problem is with Oceanic. They accepted the payment and he doesn't have an account with them. He'll have to deal directly with them in order to try to get his money back.

The OP has sent a letter to Oceanic with documentation of the payment transaction. That is the right step to take.

To the OP: I hope it all works out for you and you are able to get the payment refunded without too much difficulty.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:05AM
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You said it yourself - 'I trusted the system'.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:34PM
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I phone called Oceanic Cable several times. I had to explain to every single customer representative the same story. They were very kind and sympathetic with the problem I was dealing with.

One of them called me back saying their accounting dept. sent a refund check by July 19th. to Online Resources (which is the company that actually does the transactions for Citibank Online), but it is going to take 4 o 6 weeks before I see this as a credit in my checking account.

Finally this conundrum ends yesterday, when I received a message from Citibank saying they had received the refund. But it is going to take 3 to 5 days to credit the amount into the account.

Anyway, Oceanic Cable told me that I wasnÂt alone with this, since they have been through the same situation with other customers all over US.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 11:35AM
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Another thing, check your bills for change of address of company and account number. I have had several credit cards change their mailing addresses without notifying you. You could get late charges if it went to the wrong office.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 4:18PM
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