Bill payment precautions

Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa woman paid her gas bill, then got a letter saying she had to pay it again. She was frustrated and angry, so she called the News on Six for help.

Six in Your Corner reporter Rick Wells tells us how Laurie Watts got over her frustration, and the bill got paid. Laurie Watts works for a local car dealership, and she's on the hook for her November ONG bill, for the second time. Here's what happened, in early December she stopped by Tulsa Check Cashers at 58th and Peoria as she always did to pay her bill. She used them as a one stop payment center; she paid phone electric and gas there. “I always pay cash for all my bills, so I went to the check cashers, 'cause that's the only option ONG gives you if you want to pay with cash." Unless of course you come to the North Point Center at Pine and Cincinnati.

She'd never had problems before but this week she got a letter from ONG saying they had gotten a payment from Tulsa Check Cashers, but the check bounced, so because it was her account and Tulsa Check Cashers was not an authorized collection agent she was obligated to pay the bill, again. Eugene Harris with ONG customer service, " When you pay at an un-authorized agent it's like walking up to someone handing them a dollar and your payment and asking them to pay your bill, it's a risky thing to do."

Watts:" I called them they told me I was responsible for paying the bill, and they were adding a $15 bad check charge, that's as far as I got with ONG." As it turns out Tulsa Check Cashers was sold in early December about the time Laurie Watts paid her bill.

The business is now called Cashland and is owned out of Oklahoma City. Here's the good news. We contacted the former manager of Tulsa Check Cashers she explained the former owner just closed the account too early. When the business was sold, so some of the checks bounced. She has contacted Laurie Watts and promised to make good on her ONG payment, and promised to do the same for others with similar problems. As for ONG they have agreed to roll back any fees and additional charges on her account as well.

Late Thursday afternoon ONG received a payment and the account is up-to-date. Harris says the situation could have been avoided altogether if the bills were paid