Saturday, 7 February 2015

Money thoughts

There’s a new women’s magazine out in the UK (and elsewhere?) called Porter (as in Net-a-Porter). It’s been running a year and caught my eye, so I bought a copy of the most recent edition. It’s really good. Intelligent, interesting articles, an honest tone – nothing arch or frivolous – well, unless you think any inclusion of fashion and beauty stuff in a women’s magazine automatically renders it frivolous. But the articles were about interesting people and significant things that had happened to them – altogether both lovely to look at and a good read.

I saw that it had the usual special price reduction if I took out a subscription, so I thought I might do that. I went online to the website with that intention, then discovered that the big reduction applied to automatically recurring card payments, whereas direct debits had a much smaller reduction. Hmm. I didn’t take out the subscription.

Here’s why.

You know those roadside rescue (car) organisations – you must have them in the US, we here in the UK have two or three main ones – that will come out to fix your car and help with your onward journey etc if you break down? Well, I sometimes do and sometimes don’t have a car, depending on where I’m living and what I need to do in any particular stretch of my life, so I have joined and unjoined these organisations at various times.

Well, one time I joined then read an article about a person who had left such an organization (the same one I’d joined) but had real trouble stopping payments when he left. They had his card details, he had set up a recurring card payment, they kept on taking his money, and he had no power to stop them because control over the payments lay with the payee under this system. With a direct debit the person paying can stop the payments at the bank (though of course must notify the payee as well), but not with a recurring card payment. As the payment to these breakdown organisations goes out annually, it’s easy to forget to look out for it if one left in July but the payment is not due until next March. It’s not that the organisations are evil and weasely, just that the person leaving isn’t paying attention, and probably binned the notification unread, thinking “Oh, them – no that no longer applies to me.”

I like to keep a very tight grip on my finances and know what’s going on, so I wanted to be sure this couldn’t happen to me. So, when I sold my car and left the organization, as well as notifying them, I went to my bank and said I wanted a new debit card. They asked why. So I explained I wanted to prevent any large recurring annual payment going out when I’d cancelled membership. The bank clerk said I couldn’t do that – they wouldn’t cancel a card on that basis. Hmm.

So I made a mental note to watch carefully as the time drew near when my membership renewal would have fallen due.

As it happened, by a stroke of good fortune, I was able to go into my bank a month before that date, to report that my infant grandson had somehow got hold of my card and bitten it a lot, rendering it unusable. The bank clerk wanted to see the card and check if it could in fact still be used, but I explained that I had cut it up and thrown it away now, it really was very destroyed. So I needed them to issue me a new one – which they accordingly did, and of course I notified any organizations needing to know of the number change.

This sequence of events stuck in my memory, and it occurred to me that you might not realize the difference in who controls the two different kind of payments – with direct debits it’s you, with recurring debit/credit card payments it’s the payee. I imagined you might have an opinion about that, so just thought I’d pass it on.

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Since posting this, a Facebook friend commented that the law changed some time back, making it possible to cancel these payments at the bank. She sent me a link to a page/site explaining all about it. Here.


jenfarrant said...

This is the joy of internet banking, with my apps I can keep a daily check of what is going on and in fact see all standing orders and direct debits set up on my accounts.

love it!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Useful, isn't it! xx

LANA said...

I had a magazine subscription like that which I was finally able to cancel after numerous telephone calls. I'll never do it again. I think they are very sneaky.