PhotoMistakes happen. How you handle them makes a difference. Or at least, it should. Lawrence, of Raleigh, N.C., feels ill-treated by Comcast. When he moved from Maryland, he mistakenly packed one of his Comcast cable set-top boxes. The box was going to be in storage for six months.

“We explained the situation to the Comcast rep who told us that we had 60 days to return it or we would be billed $50.00,” Lawrence told “We asked the rep whether we should pay right then or wait for the bill and she said Comcast would send a bill.”

Lawrence received a bill dated June 7 with a due date of June 28. He says he received and paid the bill on June 13. On June 29, he said he received a letter from a collection agency dated June 23. Keep in mind the bill wasn't due until June 28.

“After explaining about the collection letter, the manager said to my wife that Comcast 'sends the bill to the customer and notifies the collection agency the same day,'" Lawrence said. “This constitutes consumer credit fraud by falsely claiming non-payment on a bill the consumer has not even received yet.”

It's hard to imagine that this is anything other than a mistake that no one wants to take responsibility for. If Lawrence can't get someone at Comcast to rescind the collection order, he'll have to contact each of the three credit agencies and initiate disputes on the charge.

Not so rewarding

When you check out at some chain stores the clerk might ask if you want to enroll in the store's rewards program. There may be no harm in doing so, but Teresa, of South Hadley, Mass., said she didn't find the Staples Rewards program all that rewarding.

I was persuaded to believe that returning ink cartridges and buying ink cartridges at the Staples store would make me a better consumer, and save money on my next ink purchase,” Teresa said. “However, the time constraint and product constraints which Staples places on the coupon completely nullifies the 'reward.'”

Teresa said she paid what she considers a high price for the original purchased ink cartridges and went out of her way to return ink cartridges there and make other purchase there.

“I do not have any tangible 'reward' or discount or savings on future ink cartridge purchases, contrary to the Staples Reward promise,” she said. At the end of June, Staples emailed a $4 coupon on an ink product that I do not use. Back in April, I bought a product based on belief that I would regain part of the price, eventually. I anticipated saving money on my next purchase. During the time that I waited for the receipt of the coupon, I did not look for or research other prices of similar products. Therefore I have become not only poorer, but less informed.”

Keep in mind, rewards programs are designed for the store's benefit, not yours. They might save you money on things you need, but then again they might not.

More than a simple mistake?

Richard, of Fairhope, Alaska, wants to know if any other consumers have experienced the problem he describes with T-Mobile's automated bill payment.

“When paying online via a checking account the routing number was incorrect and missing a leading zero,” Richard told “I have always paid this way manually every month because I do not do automated payment anywhere. The transaction failed cause i noticed a week later that my checking account had not been debited so I contacted T-Mobile and paid with a credit card. I am pretty confident that I did not make an error. Now they are charging me a $20 transaction failure fee.”

If others have experience this, let us know. Meanwhile, if your bank has free bill pay, that might be a better way to pay bills than each individual company's automated site.

Expensive degree

For-profit colleges have come under intense scrutiny lately for their placement of students in expensive loan program. Melquiades, of Long Beach, Calif., wonders why her classes at DeVry Long Beach are so expensive. She transferred in with a number of existing credit hours, but ended up racking up $85,000 in school loans. And what did her expensive education get her?

“I majored in Network Communication Management,” she said. “The job lead offered me in April was the McDonald's hiring frenzy which my career adviser urged me to attend.”