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Stupidest Bill Ever

in Mistakes, Nortel, Refunds

About 8 years ago, my wife and I bought something at Colonial Furniture and paid it off on layaway using a “no interest” plan of some kind. At the end of the period, when we finally paid off this bill, we had made a miscalculation and overpaid the bill by about $4.56, but nothing has ever happened with this positive balance (I have not bought anything there since).

The stupid part of this is that every month since I paid off this bill I receive a balance statement telling me about my positive balance. If my calculations are right I have received about 90 of these notices, and this must have cost somewhere near $40.00 in postage for Colonial, to tell me about my positive balance.

Every month I get this invoice and every month I scratch my head wondering why they do it. In other instances where I have had a positive balance, I have simply received a cheque to return the balance to zero, but not here. 

Rocky Financial Roads

Given the complete implosion that seems to be happening in the United States, I continue to get from friends articles about the impending end of civilization as we know it. My opinion is that this whole thing is ripples from the ill-conceived “Sub-Prime Mortgage” fiasco in the states, and my guess is there are more ripples to be felt, which hopefully will not cause too many more days like Wednesday.

My portfolio is not doing too badly, but I do see some stocks that may never recover and one of them being Nortel . It is now down to $2.76 but if you take out the reverse stock split the stock is actually worth $0.276 (Canadian), and they continue to sell things off to get money.  I hold a little Nortel in one trading account, mostly because I never got around to selling it, and now it isn’t even worth selling (I’d spend more on the trading fees than I would get from the sale).

Is this “correction” a buying opportunity? I think sometime soon it will be, if not right now, but remember to do your homework and don’t just “buy because I think it is on sale”, because if you had done that with Nortel in 2002, you’d have been mistaken. Do the homework, investigate the company, make sure their financials are sound and the company is sound as well.

Lock It Up

Debit Fraud Follow Up

Some excellent comments yesterday about my article about Debit Card Fraud . I think I will be going more towards a cash based purchase system to remove some of this risk, but a few commenters mentioned using a credit card instead, since your liability is limited. 

While this method may work for a lot of people, I don’t think it is for me, since a few years back we tried this with a PC Financial Mastercard, to get money back on our groceries. Due to some bad tracking by me, I ended up with a ballooning credit card balance that scared me, so we ended up paying off the card quickly and then going back to using the debit card.

{ 2 comments }

  • anon_yes September 19, 2008, 12:29 PM

    >>a few years back we tried this with a PC Financial Mastercard, to get money back on our groceries. Due to some bad tracking by me, I ended up with a ballooning credit card balance that scared me, so we ended up paying off the card quickly and then going back to using the debit card.

    My wife and I do this but I track each expense and pay the card after each purchase. Since PC doesn’t charge for paying the bill, you can pay every purchase as you make it (or at the end of the day or week, etc.)
    We have a bills “in” basket and I subtract the amounts spent on the MC from the associated budget accordingly, then make the MC payment. What’s nice about PC points is that you get them for spending with the card and also when making payments!
    The only thing about using a credit card is that unless you pay the bills as you get them (as if you were spending cash or using a debit card) is that the online balance won’t update immediately. This is why I pay the bills as I spend.

    Reply
  • Richard September 18, 2008, 10:10 AM

    MBNA doesn’t notice positive balances on closed accounts either (I had a balance transfer card and didn’t want to wait a month to make sure there was no extra interest before closing the account). Maybe I should pretend I moved and start returning the statements…

    Reply

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