Keeping track of each and every bill can be difficult. Every so often we all get that one unexpected killer bill that seems certain to put us into debt. It could be a medical bill for an A&E visit or an unusually high utility bill. Whatever the case, you can’t simply shelve it away in a drawer and forget about it. Here are the steps you should take.
Check the figures
Billing errors do occur occasionally. If you’re certain you shouldn’t be paying the amount specified, ask for a breakdown of costs if applicable (e.g. on a medical bill).
For utility bills, check that your provider hasn’t put up the rates – you should have been notified of this beforehand but such a letter could have been chucked in the bin. In some cases, a leak could be to blame for your high utility bills (even electricity leaks are possibly through faulty wiring – if you suspect this call in a handyman immediately).
If you’re certain a billing error is the only reason to blame you should notify the company. If they continue to contest that it is the right amount without giving further evidence, you may be able to hire a lawyer to handle your billing error dispute.
Negotiate a payment plan
If there hasn’t been a billing error and the amount demanded is indeed correct, you’ll have to negotiate a way of paying back the bill. It’s best to do this as soon as possible – fail to respond in a certain amount of time and the billing company may then lump a fine on top of the bill.
Most billing companies will understand if you cannot pay the full amount immediately and may allow you to set up a payment plan to pay it in installments. You may also be able to use an advocate to help negotiate a high bill that you can’t pay.
Take out a loan
For those that need the full amount fast, emergency personal loans can often be the solution. Such a loan may be able to pay off a medical bill or an insurance payment in smaller installments over a longer period than you may be able to negotiate with a billing company. Don’t be afraid to approach and friends and family that may be able to provide an interest free loan.
Start planning for the unplanned
To prevent such an event happening again, it’s worth putting some savings aside that may be able to pay for any future surprise expenses. A couple hundred may be all you need – don’t touch these unless for an emergency. If utility bills were to blame, consider buying a smart energy monitor that may allow you budget better and prevent another high bill. Also consider shopping around for providers.