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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Financial Pests

Walter White, businessman, counting his loot, er, legitimate profits
He's only here because I needed a pic for this post, and this one's pretty cool.
I've been using the online bill payer service at First Tech FCU for years and in general it has worked pretty well. Recently (five or ten years ago?), First Tech merged with a similar outfit in California. I didn't like that because, well, bigger, and well, California. But I understand how it might make good business sense to do that. The only problem I ran into with this change was that checks I deposited by mail took a week to show up in my checking account. Previously it took a couple of days. Okay, fine, I can make a trip to the ATM and deposit the check there.

Recently though they have overhauled their bill pay website and what was once a little clunky but fully functional has turned into a pile of slick looking crap. I've been dunning them to no effect, but yesterday I got a message that tells me that they are not running their own bill paying service, they are farming the actual work out to someone else. Criminently, is it really that hard to find competent programmers? And then I realized, no, that's not the problem, they just don't want to pay them. And besides, Blizzard Entertainment is a sucking whirlpool that is consuming all the programming talent within a zillion miles.

So today I'm looking for a new service and right away I come across something called PayTrust and the next thing I find is a two star (out of five) review on Yelp. Seems PayTrust was started by Intuit / Quicken umpteen years ago and while it may have been the cat's pajamas then, Intuit seems to have lost interest.

Not too long ago Intuit bought Mint (formerly Check, formerly Pageonce). Is Mint any better than Paytrust? I don't know. Intuit evidently thought it was worth buying, but all that means is they think it's going to make money for them. Given their history, I expect them to run it into the ground, but given the scale of these enterprises that is liable to take a decade or so, and by then someone will have created something even more "wonderful".

The Balance has a recent (August this year) review of bill paying services. Top of their list is PayTrust, the same service that got slammed on Yelp.  Next is another service from Intuit, and farther down the list is another one. They also mention MyCheckFree and Yodlee MoneyCenter about which I know nothing.

Of course, the hot ticket in bill paying is Smart Phone Apps, which I am unlikely to embrace, mostly because the dang phones cost $50 a month to operate. If your credit card is giving you one percent back on all purchases (another modern trend that I totally despise), how much do you have to spend every month to pay for your smart phone? That would be $5,000. I wonder if I can pay my mortgage with my credit card.

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