This happened years ago, when I was a student at college. Me and my friends rented a house, and we had to manage utilities. Normally not a problem, but one time ...
So it's Christmas. We're all heading out home one by one to be with our families, but I've got one minor problem: the utility bill hasn't shown up yet. I delay my departure as long as possible but it's nowhere to be seen. Eventually, I can't wait any longer. I lock the place up and head out.
"It's a college town," I think to myself as I leave. "And Christmas. They'll figure it out."
A week later I get an automated phone call, telling me that my bill is now overdue, and unless I pay now via phone, I'll be charged a large fee.
"Crap," I think, knowing that they also charge a "convenience" fee for paying over the phone. But that's only five bucks, better that than a late fee. So I call our utility provider.
"This office is currently closed until X date on account of the Christmas season. Please call back after this date."
"No problem then," think I. "They will understand that I could not pay, and the bill wasn't sent out early enough." So I enjoy my Christmas.
When I get back, a new bill arrives within a few days, detailing the missed bill and the seventy-five or so dollar late fee. Once they're open again, I call.
I explain the situation, that they didn't send out the bills early enough and that they hadn't arrived until well after everyone had left on break. And then that when I'd tried to pay over the phone, the bill finally coming in, the offices had been closed.
The person on the other end says, "Yeah, sounds about right."
Me: "Well, can you knock off the late fee? There was no way to avoid it."
Me: "Why not? I couldn't have paid it, it was too late in coming."
Me: "Couldn't you have sent the bill earlier? You knew Christmas was coming."
Power Employee: "Of course we did. This happens every year."
Click I get it, now.
Me: "So you're telling me you know you've set it up so that you'll hit a ton of college students with late fees because you'll be closed after the bills go out?"
Power Employee: "Yeah." No shame, this individual. Then the golden moment. "What are you gonna do about it? We're your only option. Do you want power or not?"
So yeah, this is a deliberate scam to make some extra money off of the college kids.
"I'll pay it," I say. "In person." I then collected the money for the utilities and called my bank.
Now, the office for this place closed at 7. I stopped off at my bank, then walked into this office at 6:45 PM with their money.
In quarters, dollar coins, and a few one-dollar bills.
A two-hundred and fifty dollar bill + late fee.
Then I sat there and made the two employees count it out. Twice, so there weren't any mistakes! It took them until about 7:30, and there was a line behind me at that point. Both were glaring massive daggers at me, since they clearly wanted to leave.
I waited until they were done and closed the bill, then I looked at them and told them, "Pull this again, and I'll make sure every single payment you receive is in pennies, ten minutes before closing on the weekend!"
They never sent a bill late to our place again. Never assigned another late fee either. Our bills came right on time, early even.
I did pay!