What Should I do When I can't Pay a Bill? (with picture)

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Past due bills may be subject to a late charge.
Past due bills may be subject to a late charge.

Some of us may reach a point where we just can't pay a bill. The word to remember in this case is communicate. The last thing you probably want to do is tell people you can't pay a bill, but you only need to tell the company you owe the money to. Our first instincts may be to stash reminder notices away unopened and just hope the problem goes away while we try to come up with the money to pay what we owe.

The problem is that when you ignore the reminders, only you know that you have good intentions of paying the bill as soon as you can. The billing company sees a totally different picture. The billing department sees several bills sent that weren't paid and then several reminder notices with no reply to them. For all they know, this is a person who has just decided never to pay and to spend their money elsewhere rather than keeping their promise to pay a bill owing on time.

By agreeing to receive a certain product or service for a specific sum of money due on a specific date, you made a promise to the company that you will pay them. If you receive the service or product, but don't pay them you are not fulfilling your part of the agreement. If you contact them to let them know you're having difficulty then at least the company knows you're trying to do something about the problem.

Work with them to make a payment schedule that you can both live with. Explain the details of the situation. The person on the other end of the phone may just assume you spent your regular pay check on something frivolous and that is why you didn't pay a bill. Your job is to explain exactly what happened and if you made a mistake or used misjudgement with your money, say so and apologize. You shouldn't expect them to feel sorry for you, but you can expect them to give you a reasonable payment schedule based on your expected income. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a late charge and/or a reconnection of service fee, so it's always better to make sure to pay a bill on time.

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    • Past due bills may be subject to a late charge.
      Past due bills may be subject to a late charge.