Alternative payment methods

Hi. Does anyone else deplore the fact that there is no alternative payment method for credit accounts? I loathe direct debits, but Bulb offers not alternative.

In this day and age surely a CPA on a credit or debit card is not unreasonable?


Have a look here and see which you would prefer if you were Bulb:

Which is best for your business: Continuous Payment Authorities, Direct Debit or standing orders?

Can you to explain why you loathe direct debits?

All my regular bills are paid by direct debit and never had an issue in many many years of using DD.

Direct debits are fine as long as you are not 71, retired on state pension, in which case direct debits do not always get called at the right time, since liquid assets are always at a minimum and your money comes in once a week, not monthly on a fixed date.

When things go wrong, as they do, and unexpected costs crop up, then direct debits are inconvenient and expensive, making it hard, if not impossible to meet the next one.

They are inflexible, and beyond the control of the one doing the paying.

I have lost count of the times when the direct debit got called 24 hours too early and has thus caused no end of problems. At least with an alternative payment method I could sort it out next day, though the DDR charge would still be problematic in future.

It is the lack of control over when the money is taken that is the issue.

Ok, but what if the direct debit cannot be met at exactly the time it is called? That does the business no good whatever and punishes those of limited means, tied to a day of the week, not a date in the month.

Some flexibility is needed. I have lost count of the times a direct debit has failed because at the time I was a few pennies short until a day or two later.

With a CPA I can phone and say, could you delay calling for the money for 24 hours, or until a specific date when I know the money is there, and all is well. With a DDR, the only option is to cancel it and set up another. That is a pain for all concerned.

I also feel it is very wrong to have to give control of my bank account to a heartless computer.

Your bank account is already administered by a heartless computer

Administered, yes. Controlled, no.

However, I definitely think banks were better when the manager actually made decisions because he knew his customers.

I agree with much of what you say, but ultimately, as usual, it’s all about efficiency and costs to the supplier.

Direct debit costs:
Low. Varies by provider but expect to pay 20 - 40p or 1% per transaction, with no hidden costs.
CPA costs:
High. Around 3% + 20p per payment and monthly fee for merchant account. Likely to be admin costs involved in chasing customers to update expired card details (at least every three years per customer) or additional costs for account updater services.

I believe that some energy companies do offer alternative ways to pay.
The only service/utility which gives me a choice is Council Tax.

And these costs would ultimately be passed on to the consumer

Luckily I am possibly not in the same situation as you. I budget my bank account and always know I have enough money in the account to pay all my planned direct debits even should they be actioned a day or so before the normal payment date. I have 11 direct debits set up a couple are for annual payments and the rest are monthly and have not had one single problem with these in the large number of years I have been paying by direct debit. I have always been advised in advance of any changes required to my direct debit payment.

Ok, and where does the efficiency come in when DDRs go belly up because they were pulled 24 hours before the money arrived in my account.

DDRs punish those of us with limited means where CPAs, which are every bit as efficient allow that important bit of flexibility.

However, there is a simple answer. In future everytime I know the direct debit and my income are going to miss each other, if only by a pound or so, I shall simply cancel my direct debit and after a few days set up another. After all, if I am only pennies short, the bank will bounce it. Cancelling is, after all, the only control I have.

Where do your efficiency and costs go then?

Incidentally, I budget my account as well as I can. I am glad you are well off enough, or have been problem free enough, or both, to keep sufficient balance in your account at all times. We aren’t all so affluent.

Does this still apply? Terms and conditions Aug18. 3.8 If you have a standard meter, you agree to pay for your energy by monthly automatic payment by Direct Debit or by Debit card.

I have a Smart Meter, but I guess that comes under the same terms and conditions.

However Direct Debit is the only option they give so I guess that is a moot point.

They are the only company I know that don’t have an option to pay by Debit or Credit Card.

You have the option of switching to a company that does

Which option I am seriously considering.

Which option I am seriously considering.
I wish you good fortune in your quest
The alternative of a pre-payment meter might be a consideration,

This is from Bulb’s T&Cs should you decide to cancel your DD.

1: If you do not make a payment to us on the date it is due we can charge you £15 for each missed payment to cover the administrative costs of recovering outstanding payment.

2: You must notify us that you have cancelled your Direct Debit, so that we can update our records. You should also ensure that you arrange alternative means of making any required payment to us. However, we may charge you the additional costs to us of you using alternative payment channels or we may, without your consent, install a prepayment meter at your premises

I have alternate means, but you don’t have the facility on here to use them.

That is what this is all about.

I’ve had dozens of different direct debits in place for many different suppliers for more than 20 years, and I’ve never had a single one take the debit earlier than agreed (rarely, it has been later, though). I did recently have one supplier contact me to say that due to the one-off change in the May Day bank holiday this year, collection might be one day earlier than agreed and to contact them if that would be a problem - but it went out on the normal day in the end.

I have occasionally (due to my own inattention usually) had insufficient funds available in my accounts on the due date for a debit, and in the distant past, the bank has either refused the debit or put me into overdraft. I have found that the automatic charges levied as a result could generally be talked away by making nice with the bank and affected supplier (as long as they’re not repeat occurrences!).

The modern approach to insufficient funds is for your bank to try and contact you electronically (text or email or both) early on the day of the debit to advise you that you have insufficient funds for the debit and have until some time in the afternoon (generally from 2pm-4pm, depending on individual bank) to deposit additional funds before the debit is retried. Some banks are even managing to issue these warning notifications the day before the debit is going to be taken.

Such alerts do, of course, rely on you giving your bank(s) a mobile number or email address (or both) that they can use. And if you don’t act on the alert (or are unable to do so), they can still either refuse the debit or put you into overdraft (according to agreed terms).