Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bill Me Later®; Not a scam but..

Okay, my wife signed up to use Bill Me Later®, a service of Ebay/Paypal to pay for an auction. The terms were no interest and no payment for 6 months. If the balance is not paid in the 6 month time frame, then you will owe the accrued interest at 20% interest rate. It was easy to use and the terms were great. We paid off the purchase in 5 1/2 months and it didn't accrue any interest. I then opened my own account and bought a $100+ item and got the same deal.

Here's the rub. There is a minimum charge for  the 6 month no payment no interest on the first charge or later Special financing; usually include a $99-199 minimum. I added another purchase to the account of $40 and I am now paying a minimum payment of $35 @ month and being charged 20% interest (well that's if the balance goes over a month, otherwise you still get charged a minimum $2 interest). If you read the fine print, it is what you agreed to. However their advertisements are a bit misleading. Take a look at this

..up to 6 months to pay.

With so much advertising about the 6 month no payment no interest, there is very little info that this is a promotional offer; after your first purchase, additional charges using Bill Me Later®  may be at 20% interest credit card. While ebay/PayPal promotes Bill Me Later® as Secure, fast, easy...checkout is a breeze, anyone that uses PayPal should know thay you can attach a credit card and purchase items through the credit card at what could be a much lower interest rate than 20%. Further, Bill Me Later® is definitely set up to be computer paid. Bill Me Later® does not mail it's statements, but a link is sent by email where the account holder has to log in to see their statement; for some this will mean it will be easily forgotten. There have also been numerous anecdotal complaints that mailed payments have disappeared or applied weeks after the payment was mailed, incurring a late charge (I saw nothing to substantiate this, and it may just be the realization that they have been bumped to 20% interest, but it is included just so users of  Bill Me Later® pay attention to the billing.

What I have also discovered is the Bill Me Later® logo in Ebay auctions tend to disappear after you sign up. Then you have no way of knowing if your purchase can be paid with Bill Me Later® or not. Bill Me Later® seems to have remedied this by allowing Bill Me Later® by default on most auctions (usually still not available for international purchases).  What aggravates me the most is the name; "Bill Me Later". The name implies a differed payment, not the normal "within the billing cycle" that is common with all credit cards. Further, if you don't catch on the subsequent charges are without the promotional billing, you will find if you don't make the minimum payment (usually $35), then a $35 late charges will be assessed each month and they could really pile up over 6 months

So, if Bill Me Later® a scam? No, but it can just be misleading and like anything else you need to read the fine print before you use the service.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post! My girlfriend asked me if it was a scam or not and this one clarified a lot fine and weird details about the service. I think I'll stay out of this since it could be real trouble using this service.

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