How to avoid late payment charges amid postal strikes

19 October 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

The Payments Council has offered advice to consumers who are concerned about missing payment dates and being fined as a result of the postal strike.

Recent postal strikes have been blamed by many consumers for delaying the receipt of credit card statements and other bills requiring attention which have gone unpaid, or for cheques being sent to providers which have not arrived on time, and led to the consumer being charged for late payments.

With two more national postal strikes planned for the end of this week, the Payments council recommends that consumers take advantage of alternative and more convenient ways of paying their bills, such as using online payments.

Those who are intending to post a cheque which is due, or expecting the arrival of a bill that needs paying should check that they are not going to miss a payment deadline, the Payments Council suggests,

Customers can check when payment is due with their supplier, or, if possible, online. On the back of most household bills there are a number of payment options, and it might be prudent for bill payers to use a payment method other than post to pay their bill, such as paying by phone, online, or at a local bank or post office.

Paul Smee, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: "It's worth taking five minutes to work out what bills, invoices or cheques you might be expecting in the post and to consider whether you want to take any action to make alternative arrangements for any of them."

While postal strikes are disruptive, Mr Smee predicts that this one will have less of an impact on bill payers than the one in 2007, because the number of people paying bills via a cheque in the post has fallen dramatically now that 27 per cent more people pay by Direct Debit and 52 per cent more people use online payment systems for regular bills.

Despite the progress which has been made, however, Mr Smee warns that "customers who don't yet use Direct Debits should make sure they use an alternative form of payment to avoid receiving any late fees as a result of the strike action."

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