Pay By Phone For Your Inconvenience

While three posts in one day is probably a record for me, I just couldn’t let this one slide. My Pier 1 credit card payment was due today, and as I’m sure is typical for a grad student, it slipped my mind until the last minute.

My Pier 1 credit card is the one bill that I can’t pay online. When it was one of three or four, it wasn’t so inconvenient; now, however, I think that Pier 1 needs to get with the program. But that’s not the extent of my rant. No, my rant hasn’t even started.

On the bill, it says, “You can pay at any Pier 1 Imports company store or by telephone (EZ Pay 1-800-767-3662).” So, one would assume that, by calling said phone number, you could pay off your credit card immediately, right?

Wrong. First of all, they charge you a $5.00 fee for paying by the phone. Well, it’s kind of harsh, but I needed to pay it, so that didn’t bother me. However, they also don’t have any way to take debit card information; you have to send them a check. “Do I at least get marked down as having paid today so I don’t get a late fee?” I asked. “No, we mark down your date of payment when we get your check.”

So let me get this straight. I can use the envelope you send me to send in a check, OR I can call you, and tell you I’m sending you a check for $5.00 more and no value add to me? Sign me up. What brilliant scholar thought that this constitutes “EZ Pay”?! Adding a step and an extra charge to a standard process is generally not easy, no matter how cute you try to be in alternative spellings.

Anyway, off I go to the closest Pier 1 establishment: 20 miles away in Pittsburgh traffic. Now, while I probably should have had my check book based on the phone incident, it didn’t occur to me until I arrived at Pier 1 and the lady said, “We don’t take credit cards, only checks.” But then, I’m not sure why it should occur to me – it’s not stated anywhere on my bill.

So I smiled politely, and said, “This isn’t a credit card. It’s a check card.” It even said Check Card at the top. But even that much logic could not sway her. Thankfully, I had just enough cash on hand to cover the bill.

Here’s today’s lesson from the breakdown: If you are thinking about a Pier 1 card, don’t. No cool perks, and it’s way more hassle than it’s worth. As for Pier 1, they should look into the 3rd party vendors that enable bill pay for their customers if they are unwilling to set up the system themselves. As for me, well, I almost let the Pier 1 associate keep my credit card when she forgot to give it back. I’m not sure I’ll be using it again, when I can get better rewards on a generic card.

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The conversation continues...

  1. On October 18th, 2005 at 12:43 am, Chaia said:

    This post was so well-written and witty that I’m still laughing. Thanks for that. = )

  2. On October 18th, 2005 at 4:36 pm, said:

    How about this… I was signed up for Comcast e-bill (now I just do this through my bank). I would get an email saying to go to my account to view and pay the bill. Here’s the problem. For the past three months when I have tried to log in, I get a system maintenance error. I’ve tried several machines, OSes, browsers, bleh. So I would call and PAY a fee to pay the stupid bill because I don’t even have a statement. (meaning of course I can’t verify the charges) I am back to paper bill review. I hate Comcast. I was so proud when they finally went to e-bill this spring. I guess they lied.

  3. On October 18th, 2005 at 5:21 pm, said:

    Ah yes, I have a rant as well. It’s a good one for you HCIers too. I paid my student bill this summer using UNL’s online system. Everything seems to go fine, I get a confirmation page with a confirmation number and all that (and I saved it). So it sounds like everything went alright right? Nope. Your payment doesn’t actually go through unless you also get a pop-up window that says “payment successful.” I of course, living in 2005, have a pop-up blocker, so I got no such pop up. Faced with a late fee the next month, I show them my confirmation page, they look up the confirmation number and tell me that the transaction wasn’t completed. Now, I refused to pay the late fee, which they grudgingly gave in to. Now, I’m not an HCI expert, but shouldn’t a confirmation page/number indicate success rather than a pop-up window that you don’t know exists if you’re not successful?

  4. On October 18th, 2005 at 4:42 pm, zsz said:

    Ouch, that’s one of those situations where I would flat out refuse to pay the fee. I’d tell them they’d get their fee (and the rest of their money) as soon as I got a bill for it that I could verify. That’s sad.

    I’ve been unhappy with both Comcast and Verizon. My Verizon bill pay woes are here ; as for my Comcast story, I’m saving that for a slow week. Or, perhaps, when I’m moving out of Pittsburgh and cancelling Comcast for good. Then I’ll be scathing.

  5. On October 19th, 2005 at 6:13 pm, Chaia said:

    So, Eric, Zach…does that mean you finally have to around to my way of thinking? Computers are NOT that great and we rely on automated stuff too much? Yeah, that’s right, good ol’ paper is best. ; )

    Geez, I miss you BOTH so much. It’s all kinds of exciting to read comments from both of you at the same time, I almost can’t take it. = )

  6. On October 20th, 2005 at 8:49 am, said:

    Well, certainly something is not better simply because it is automated or computerized (voting for instance). But I think maybe what Zach is trying to focus his career on is improving things that are computerized so that you and I don’t have so much frustration with them.

    I, on the other hand, will continue to make computers as confusing and difficult to use as possible so that I’m the only one who knows how to use them. This will make me feel smart and ensure I remain gainfully employed.

    Nice to hear from you too Chaia.

  7. On June 12th, 2007 at 9:01 pm, Christine said:

    I just went online to search for Pier 1 c.c. payment online and read your comments. Recently I received a letter from Pier 1 and a merger co. well a brief look at the message that I think said we could now pay online through this company or bank I don’t remember—anyway I through the letter out thinking great next bill I’ll just log on to Pier 1 and pay online well this month rolled around and I did that to no avail–letters in trash–pier one is no help–guess I’ll have to drive out of my way 20 minutes with my check of course thanks for the story and pay my bill–this is the first time I’ve ever written about anything

What do you think?