Going green and paperless billing has its downside and unintended consequences.

I spent 46:16 minutes on the phone trying to access my own phone records from MCI – in the end, I still don’t have access to them.

Several years ago, I made the huge mistake of switching our MCI account to paperless billing.  We get an email every month telling us we can “view the bill online.”  It’s pretty much the same each month so I never bothered until August 3rd when I actually needed some detailed information from the account.  I had no idea MCI kicks you off their online account manager if you don’t use it in over a year.  I then requested a “temporary PIN” within 24 hours by phone; when I hadn’t received it, I called customer service and learned that MCI’s computer doesn’t leave a temporary PIN on an answering machine.  I then requested the temporary PIN by mail which should take from 7-10 days, but took 14 days.  I couldn’t access MCI’s website at all on the day I received the PIN, so, the next day, after entering all my information, I was alerted the temporary PIN had expired.  After 46:16 minutes, I learned MCI inadvertently sent me the wrong temporary PIN and I would have to start the whole process over again.

Not only don’t I have access to my own records, but I had to waste almost an hour on the phone earlier in the month and again this week, and had to endure an interminably 3-minute conversation with a computer “voice” asking me what my problem was so “she” could direct me to the right person.  Well, after three tries, she couldn’t understand what I was saying (it was probably my Brooklyn accent), so “she” finally transferred me to a live person who had an accent I could barely understand.

I have dozens of accounts online and not one of them knocks you off if you don’t access them in a year.  I’ve never had to wait 14 days to get a PIN number in the mail.  When I’ve had a problem in the past, the company sent an email with a temporary PIN.

Here’s another reason I really hate paperless billing.  And all you tree huggers out there can hate me all you want but I LOVE paper and here’s why.

My cousin, who lived in NY, passed away recently and made me Executor of his estate.  Well, he, for his own reasons, preferred paperless billing, which meant I had no idea who provided his utilities, telephone or cable because he had no paper bills in the house.  I had no way of accessing any of his accounts online to know when and what things needed to be paid.  I had no idea if his automatic payments were being paid or by what account.  He left some hieroglyphic passwords around which enabled me to begin deciphering everything.  I had to take each piece of information, like a puzzle, to figure it all out.  If I hadn’t been as close to him as I was and knew a little bit about how his mind worked, it would’ve been an impossible situation.

I’m not sure if people who use paperless billing really know what a mess they could be leaving for their loved ones.  There’s definitely something to be said about leaving a “paper trail.”

So, after all this wasted time with MCI, I still don’t have access to my records.  This week, we cancelled MCI and went with another company whose customer service line was answered immediately by a live person.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.







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