Charleston Water System Online Payment

I recently received a letter from Charleston Water System telling me that I had a Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Check of: $94.56.  After investigating I found that Charleston Water System has a completely defunct online Payment System.  The following letter I wrote to them explains everything.

To whom it may concern,

Last month I tried to use your online bill pay system to pay my bill (account xxxxxx-xx-x) using my checking account.  After submitting my checking information I received a payment confirmation screen.  Last Friday I received a letter “Re: Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Check of: $94.56”.  This confused me because I have never had under $94.56 in my bank account since I have been in my new residence.  After calling my bank I discovered that no request for payment was received by my bank.  Eventually after signing back online I was able to identify that the problem was a missing 3 in the account number.  I have fixed this issue and paid the $94.56 and the $35.00 penalty fee (I was directed by phone support to pay in full and place a request for refund in an email online).  During this payment I noticed your payment system is missing several standard online payment safeguards that would have avoided this issue in the first place and I request a refund of $35.00 because of your failure to have these in place.  In particular you guys could simply have  a dual entry field for both routing number and account number.  This is where the user has to enter in the same number twice and checks to make sure both numbers are correct.  This will catch 99.99% of all user entry errors.  A final solution would be for you to verify payments online before accepting payment from an incorrect account number.  Every other online merchant that I have ever used has this in place.

If you fail to refund my $35.00 I will immediately begin taking action against Charleston Water System by filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  Due to your “Unsatisfactory” rating with the Better Business Bureau I expect this threat doesn’t frighten you much.

http://columbia.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=48&bbb=0663&firm=34003431

Therefore if you continue to refuse to refund the $35.00 I have paid in penalty I will look into starting a class action lawsuit against Charleston Water System.  From the reaction I got from phone support the online payment issue seems to be an issue you guys are familiar with and it sounds like you are benefiting from your defunct payment system.  I highly recommend you refund my $35.00 and look to improve your online payment system.

I expect a response via email or phone from upper management to discuss this issue.

If anyone has been charged a penalty fee for this same issue please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Update:

Charleston Water System I have been contacted and refunded the penalty charge.

Good Afternoon Zane,

We did have a seven day waiting period to verify account information but did away with it due to the abundance of customer complaints we received. I do want to apologize that your initial request to have the $35.00 fee waived wasn’t honored. I will be glad to remove this fee. Your next billing statement will reflect this adjustment.  Please feel free to contact me should you require additional assistance.

Thanks for writing and have a great evening.

Tamme’ Nathan
Contact Center Coordinator
Phone (843)727-6800  Fax (843)579-6688
nathanti@charlestoncpw.com

Clean Water For Life!

I responded with

Good deal,  thank you Tamme

If you would like assistance setting up the dual entry method I would be glad to help.  A simple javascript would do it.  There is no reason not to have this and it would most likely remove all such entry errors.  If you would like me to explain to whoever created your site I would be happy to do so.

The way it works is the user enters the routing number and account number twice

EG:

Routing Number: <user input field>
Please Re-Enter Routing Number: <user input field>

Account Number: <user input field>
Please Re-Enter Account Number: <user input field>

If the user enters two different values for either the script would say “Error, your entries do not match.  Please try again”.

This will catch all “Fat Finger” errors where the user either missed a number or mis-keyed the numbers on their keyboard.  I am very surprised to see your site does not have this as it is pretty much standard on all financial transactions where Routing Numbers & Account Numbers are requested since there are so many numbers which increases the chance for error.

Thank you for your support & refund.

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