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Helpful reminder: Download your bills

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,840
5,038
136
Despite my aversion to relying on the cloud, I've been letting slide some admin tasks like downloading my bills/statements from utility companies. My supplier, Avro Energy has gone bust so of course I can't download those bills now (or at least I highly doubt I'll ever get access to them now).
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
31,427
4,053
126
I get paper statements. Online stuff might escape my attention. I open the paper envelopes and evaluate. I save the envelopes (if blank on the back) for note paper.
 

BarkingGhostar

Diamond Member
Nov 20, 2009
9,604
2,310
136
This is all good advice. I recently changed the household electric over from the wife's name to mine. Then ~30 days later I logged into the online account with the original account number and the entire 20 year history of bills was gone. Seriously, how freaking expensive was it to save that data, or at least email out an FYI about impending deletion?
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,840
5,038
136
I get paper statements. Online stuff might escape my attention. I open the paper envelopes and evaluate. I save the envelopes (if blank on the back) for note paper.
Normally any paperwork I receive I scan in and recycle the paper. Currently I'm grappling with my dislike for paperwork (emphasis on paper), the fact that if the bill has been posted then at least I have it on paper (rather than relying on a website), as well as carbon footprint attached to paper delivery...
 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
8,928
3,823
136
Despite my aversion to relying on the cloud, I've been letting slide some admin tasks like downloading my bills/statements from utility companies. My supplier, Avro Energy has gone bust so of course I can't download those bills now (or at least I highly doubt I'll ever get access to them now).
Yeah, in the same situation (I took screenshots, just in time when it became clear what was likely to happen - they owe me quite a bit of overpayment). Looks like energy company privatization and deregulation is yet another neo-liberal policy that hasn't worked out as promised.
 
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deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
6,027
396
126
Just a more general question, but why do y'all care? Are you all data hoarders, even with bills and things like that?

I could care less if I can access my bills back further than a year. My water bill I only review briefly before shredding (it's the only paper bill I get). My electric bill I try to track on a yearly basis so I can change my provider if there is some benefit to saving money. Otherwise though? Why.
 
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ultimatebob

Lifer
Jul 1, 2001
24,219
1,849
126
Yeah, I get paper statements from my bank. They only keep 15 months of statements online, which can suck come tax time.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,840
5,038
136
Just a more general question, but why do y'all care? Are you all data hoarders, even with bills and things like that?

I could care less if I can access my bills back further than a year. My water bill I only review briefly before shredding (it's the only paper bill I get). My electric bill I try to track on a yearly basis so I can change my provider if there is some benefit to saving money. Otherwise though? Why.
You've never had a company tried to shaft you before?

Now that I can't access my statements with Avro, what if the next appointed energy provider claims a vastly inflated debt on my account, for example?

What if I need to provide statements to some financial organisation to indicate proof of my address, they often ask for utility bills, and the bills can be at most 6 months old.

As a side note I find it odd that your first conclusion is that people who think bills are important must be data hoarders.

About the only bit of completely unnecessary financial information I keep are the financial breakdowns of my wife and my monthly expenses on a historical basis, but considering a spreadsheet probably weighs about 9KB and sits on a 4TB drive and I do a new financial breakdown only when something financial changes (e.g. a different charge from a given company), which is maybe about 3-4 times a year.
 
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dank69

Lifer
Oct 6, 2009
29,100
13,124
136
You've never had a company tried to shaft you before?
Shaft you how? They tell me how much to pay and I pay it. You think they're going to come after you for bills more than a month old?

Now that I can't access my statements with Avro, what if the next appointed energy provider claims a vastly inflated debt on my account, for example?
What?

What if I need to provide statements to some financial organisation to indicate proof of my address, they often ask for utility bills, and the bills can be at most 6 months old.
What? I highly doubt all of your different utilities are going to suddenly make all statements unavailable at the same time.

As a side note I find it odd that your first conclusion is that people who think bills are important must be data hoarders.
Yes, how could one reach that conclusion?

About the only bit of completely unnecessary financial information I keep are the financial breakdowns of my wife and my monthly expenses on a historical basis, but considering a spreadsheet probably weighs about 9KB and sits on a 4TB drive and I do a new financial breakdown only when something financial changes (e.g. a different charge from a given company), which is maybe about 3-4 times a year.
How could one guess you have monthly breakdowns of your expenses and your wife's expenses? How was that possible?
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
52,064
4,497
126
You've never had a company tried to shaft you before?

Now that I can't access my statements with Avro, what if the next appointed energy provider claims a vastly inflated debt on my account, for example?
It sounds like things may work rather differently there for energy providers than any place I've ever lived in the US... no, I've never had a utility company try to shaft me by billing amounts other than what was used.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,840
5,038
136
I'm getting asked a similar question by two people at once. Here's an example of how an energy company tried to rip me off.

I was with nPower a few years ago and changed to another energy provider. On the day of changeover I took meter readings and supplied them to the new energy provider. In the UK the procedure IIRC is that the new energy provider gives those readings to ofgem (gov organisation overseeing energy companies), ofgem for whatever reason allows the energy company being left to pad/'estimate' the readings despite them being given meter readings to base their calculations on. nPower then padded the readings and claimed I owed them money. The argument then went back and forth for months despite being a simple one of "just use the actual meter readings, not your made-up ones", every excuse under the sun including trying to convince me that it's hardly worth using the real meter readings anyway, closing complaints I opened despite me telling them not to, until they eventually relented and admitted they owed me money.

It could have gone worse, I might have had to take them to the small claims court, and evidence is really bloody useful then.

@dank69 the only other question of yours that makes some kind of sense: "What? I highly doubt all of your different utilities are going to suddenly make all statements unavailable at the same time." - No, but my water company only produces 2 bi-annual statements so "statements less than three months old" wouldn't be useful there, and I think that phone company statements have been rejected for 'reasons'. The other issue can sometimes be "it needs to be your / your wife's name on the bill", and some companies only allow one name on the bill.

One other reason why I'd keep historical bills is that I run a business and HMRC requires 6 years worth of records, and since I claim a portion of my home expenses on my business, utility bills are relevant.
 
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JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
27,327
1,357
126
Download your bills

WHY?
the reason for e-bills is to save paper.
if you didnt want to save paper, dont sign up for e-billing.

Just a more general question, but why do y'all care? Are you all data hoarders, even with bills and things like that?

I could care less if I can access my bills back further than a year.
My water bill I only review briefly before shredding (it's the only paper bill I get).
My electric bill I try to track on a yearly basis so I can change my provider if there is some benefit to saving money. Otherwise though? Why.
same.
with paper bills, i usually only look at once and thats to pay via my bank's electronic billpay.
then i put in a folder then i shred 2 years later.

i have never looked back at my credit card/util bills ever.
if there's a problem, i call that day to resolve it.

i only look back on my medical bills in the rare cases my insurance company doesnt pay/under pays for something.

(i dont receive the insurance EOB till a month after the doctor submits.
and the doctor's office sometimes takes weeks to submit)
 
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BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
57,526
5,826
126
We have our electric service, water/sewer, and garbage all on e-bill...all 3 still send paper bills anyway. Our cable (internet) company is the only local utility that doesn't...and they send text reminders that "your Coast Communications bill is due in 2 weeks!" plus, since it's on auto-pay, a thank you when they debit the payment.
We have Dish Network, Ford (truck pymt) and mortgage all on e-billing and auto-pay...none send monthly paper bills.
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
23,037
1,297
126
I keep utility bills for two reasons:
1) The final $0 statement I keep forever, since I want proof as a just-in-case scenario. I've never needed it, but it is just one piece of paper per utility.
2) The years where I claim a home office deduction I like proof of my utility bills for tax purposes.

All the rest of the utility bills (most) are kindling for fires.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
60,823
9,056
126
www.uovalor.com
I don't know why they can't just send PDFs in email. That's what ebilling should be. They'll say it's not secure, but how is a paper bill in a mailbox sitting outside for a day any more secure? Reminds me of old business people that argue that fax is more secure than email. Yeah, let's send this document over clear text on a phone line and have it print out in an office where anyone around can see it, vs sending it encrypted over the same damn phone line, but it lands in an email inbox that requires a password to get to.

I typically don't need to go back to look at old bills though so I'm not too sad if I lose them, but I suppose it would not be a bad idea to keep my own records, just in case.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
6,027
396
126
You've never had a company tried to shaft you before?

Now that I can't access my statements with Avro, what if the next appointed energy provider claims a vastly inflated debt on my account, for example?

What if I need to provide statements to some financial organisation to indicate proof of my address, they often ask for utility bills, and the bills can be at most 6 months old.

As a side note I find it odd that your first conclusion is that people who think bills are important must be data hoarders.

About the only bit of completely unnecessary financial information I keep are the financial breakdowns of my wife and my monthly expenses on a historical basis, but considering a spreadsheet probably weighs about 9KB and sits on a 4TB drive and I do a new financial breakdown only when something financial changes (e.g. a different charge from a given company), which is maybe about 3-4 times a year.
Over long periods of time, I've generally found no "shafting" occurs. IF I was in the midst of possibly changing providers, then perhaps I would do as you mention, but if I'm with the same provider and/or I don't see cause for alarm on my monthly perusal of billing, I just move on my merry way.

The only time I've seen a "shafting" that I didn't expect, was earlier this year when my water bill suddenly went from my regular ~3000 gal to ~10000 gal, with no known leaks or other issues. I didn't panic - I paid the bill - and surprise the next month I was back to normal usage and they had credited my account for the amount of overage. I'm guessing they had mis-read my meter that month.

The only thing I keep locally is a spreadsheet (similar to yours) that tracks all my in's and out's with general descriptions for my bank accounts, more for budget purposes than anything else.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,840
5,038
136
I don't know why they can't just send PDFs in email. That's what ebilling should be. They'll say it's not secure, but how is a paper bill in a mailbox sitting outside for a day any more secure? Reminds me of old business people that argue that fax is more secure than email. Yeah, let's send this document over clear text on a phone line and have it print out in an office where anyone around can see it, vs sending it encrypted over the same damn phone line, but it lands in an email inbox that requires a password to get to.

I typically don't need to go back to look at old bills though so I'm not too sad if I lose them, but I suppose it would not be a bad idea to keep my own records, just in case.
I'm on the fence about that one. On one hand, I tell my customers not to open any attachments or click on any links in their emails unless they're explicitly expecting that information, but I agree it would make it easier to receive bills this way. I just think that tonnes of people would be duped into opening dodgy attachments.

An option would be an opt-in system to get bills by e-mail, but my guess is that the IT departments of these companies would prefer as close to a one-size-fits-all system as they can, and giving more options means somewhat more coding/testing.
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
52,064
4,497
126
I'm on the fence about that one. On one hand, I tell my customers not to open any attachments or click on any links in their emails unless they're explicitly expecting that information, but I agree it would make it easier to receive bills this way. I just think that tonnes of people would be duped into opening dodgy attachments.

An option would be an opt-in system to get bills by e-mail, but my guess is that the IT departments of these companies would prefer as close to a one-size-fits-all system as they can, and giving more options means somewhat more coding/testing.
The way it works with my utilities is that they send me an email saying that I have a new statement, and I log into their site to access the new statement.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
60,823
9,056
126
www.uovalor.com
I'm on the fence about that one. On one hand, I tell my customers not to open any attachments or click on any links in their emails unless they're explicitly expecting that information, but I agree it would make it easier to receive bills this way. I just think that tonnes of people would be duped into opening dodgy attachments.

An option would be an opt-in system to get bills by e-mail, but my guess is that the IT departments of these companies would prefer as close to a one-size-fits-all system as they can, and giving more options means somewhat more coding/testing.
Yeah true guess it would invite virus writers, spammers etc to try to mimic these emails so that customers open the bad ones too. I suppose that is one of the non secure aspects of email, there is no easy way to identify the identity of the sender. A fax or letter in the mail is a bit more easy to know where it came from. Sort of. you can still spoof all that info.

Come to think of it there needs to be some kind of signature standard for emails, where you can setup a public key to an email sender, this would validate that the sender is really the sender.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Diamond Member
Dec 15, 2015
9,232
5,338
146
Come to think of it there needs to be some kind of signature standard for emails, where you can setup a public key to an email sender, this would validate that the sender is really the sender.
That's actually a thing, it's called a digital email signature.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
60,823
9,056
126
www.uovalor.com
That's actually a thing, it's called a digital email signature.
Oh neat. Too bad it's not more prevelant as it could be a good solution to preventing phishing etc if it became more then norm for businesses to have it setup. Key is it needs to be easy though...
 

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