Do Companies Purposely Obscure Bills? (1 Viewer)

Steve R.

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I have often wondered if the bills that I have received have been purposely designed to be misleading OR if it is simply bad design. What is your take?

Like many we have an auto loan. The billing statement does not show the interest paid with the associated monthly payment. Just the payment amount and new balance.

Following a hospital visit we never received a bill from the hospital. A few months go by and we receive a surprise overdue "collection notice" from a credit collection agency with NO itemized statement. After spending significant time going through the insurance statements I was able to determine that the collection amount was correct. The hospital seems to have determined that it was simply not worth their effort/time to send out an itemized bill. Just sell the bill to the collection agency and let them deal with it.

A department store we visit has in big bold letters on its receipts, the $$$ "saved" which normally exceeds the balance due which is in small print. Given that, I should be exceptionally rich. :D

The bill from the cable company is a morass.

I believe that many companies (but not all) do purposely design their bills to make it difficult for a person to understand them. Do you believe that many company bills are purposely designed to obscure how the bill is derived or is it simply inadvertent bad design?
 
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ConnorGiles

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I do agree,

They are very cunning in the way they do it.

You will find that with many other things too Steve.

Such as Loan companies:

QUICKEST LOANS AROUND.!!!!
LOAN BY MONDAY AND GET +£50 FREE!!!
100000% APR included

Companies strive on desperate people, and depend on them making the mistake on using them.
 

AnthonyGerrard

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Utilities here - yes.


Cant work them out half the time , someone who's not good with maths would have no clue.

Still trying to fathom my mortgage statements on a transfer from one org to another and the interest applied.
 

AnthonyGerrard

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I do agree,

They are very cunning in the way they do it.

You will find that with many other things too Steve.

Such as Loan companies:

QUICKEST LOANS AROUND.!!!!
LOAN BY MONDAY AND GET +£50 FREE!!!
100000% APR included

Companies strive on desperate people, and depend on them making the mistake on using them.
The short term loan company on my building, is currently fitting an access system and have already hidden their name plates.

Seems customers have already worked out , with anger that they are being fleeced.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Not limited to private companies, I fear.

First, our local parish hospital (Louisiana calls it a parish when anyone else in the world would have called it a county) is notorious for a billing system that is like a Gordian knot - but we aren't allowed to bring a machete to cut that knot when paying bills in person. The hospital treats most of the doctors and service groups as independent contractors who bill through the hospital for services rendered at the hospital. So what does that mean in practice?

It means I get a bill for the operating room (rental, I guess) plus a bill for the surgeon plus a bill for the nurses plus a bill for the anesthesiologist plus a bill for the lab guy who actually analyzes the biopsies plus a bill for any assisting physician who doesn't work for the primary surgeon (a.k.a. a "drive-by" consultation) plus... I think you get the message. I have gotten bills six months after the original surgery for which the services were rendered.

Right now the City of New Orleans is finding out that there is corruption in our Sewage and Water Board (... {gasp!} say it isn't so! ) so bad that folks are being double-billed for the same services.

An accountant recently got a bill and something "clicked" in his memory - i.e. one of the charges looked familiar. Based on dates and descriptions of service plus the amount being billed (that depended on the service and thus was not a flat fee), he was able to prove he was being double-billed. He tried to get the second charge rescinded but the clerks at the NO S&WB were uncooperative. (Wait - an uncooperative public service clerk?) He started asking around his neighbors. Before long they had found several bills which were double-bills. He went public to the local newspaper, the TV folks caught the story, and now they have found over 650 customers of the S&WB who have verified double-billing.

Both of these are relevant to the original question because it is not only the way the material is presented on an individual bill, but also sometimes the way that it is obscured by being spread across multiple bills that helps to obfuscate the process.

In the case of the hospital, I have to say that the problem is due to incompetence. On the other hand, I must regretfully admit that New Orleans is not necessarily known for honest politicians. (Is that perhaps an oxymoron?)

I've seen both sides of the obfuscation issue, though. The Louisiana Property Tax bills are so detailed in their charges that it becomes a chore just to read the bill even once. On the other hand, the summary charges for some ISP companies are just "pay me this and I'll be happy" type bills.
 

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