3 Reasons to Review Every Bill: Another Cable Bill Fiasco

Have you ever heard the advice that you should review every bill you get?

I follow the rule religiously. I’m glad I do.

I estimate that reviewing all of my bills, rather than just automatically paying them without a review, has saved me at least $4,000 over the last year.

Reviewing Every Bill Allows You to Catch Errors

When I opened my most recent cable bill I was irritated by yet another comedy of errors by my cable company’s billing department.

We had just signed our death pledge and moved into our new house and this was the first bill at the new address. Naturally my cable company messed it up.

The first error was extra annoying. The cable company added a recurring modem rental fee to our account. I could understand them forgetting to remove the fee if I had rented a modem at my old house and recently purchased one.

The problem is I hadn’t rented a modem from my cable company for months. They were just trying to sneak an extra monthly fee on my account. They hoped I wouldn’t notice because it was only $5.00, but reviewing my bill caught them in their tracks!

After talking to the representative they promptly removed the fee and all was right in the world… at least as far as the modem rental fee goes. Yup… you guessed it! There were other problems.

Reviewing Bills Help You Stop Price Increases in Their Tracks

Companies that bill you on a recurring basis love to try to increase your rates. They hope that you have your bills on auto pay and you never look at the bill or your credit card statement. If you never look, you’ll never notice you’re paying the companies more money!

I could have been that person just last week, but I review my bill.

The company tried to increase my rates after we moved to our new house. By moving, they tried to tell me that I had to pay a partial month at full price rather than the promotional price I had verified I would be charged after the move.

Unfortunately the lower level employee didn’t understand this and I had to speak to a manager. You must be persistent about getting the bill increases removed in order to get them fixed.

Luckily, after talking to a supervisor, the problem was corrected, but not before they wasted 32 minutes of my Sunday morning.

You Won’t Catch Fraud If You Don’t Review Your Bills

This last reason is one of the most important reasons to review your bills. Luckily, there wasn’t any fraud on my cable bill but there are many other types of bills that could easily involve fraud. The number one culprit? Credit card bills.

As you may remember, I was a victim of credit card fraud just this year. Actually, the credit card fraud turned into identity theft but you can read about those stories in the linked posts.

Either way, if I didn’t review my bills it is very likely that these fraudulent charges could have gone unnoticed.

The credit card fraud was only for about $30 but the identity theft was over $3,000.

I’d hope you would notice an extra $3,000 coming out of your bank account if you credit card is on auto-pay, but at that point it’d be too late and the money would be gone from your account.

You can still dispute the charge and likely get the money refunded to your bank account but it might take longer than you’d like to get the cash back in your account.

It could also cause overdrafts, draws on your line of credit and many other fees that you don’t want to bother with.

It would be easy to ignore the bills that shouldn’t have activity on them. I have quite a few of these bills because I sign up for the best credit cards to get sign up bonuses and I rarely close them.

However, these could be prime targets for fraudsters as they know you won’t be watching them.

Just remember… all of this can be avoided if you review every bill you receive! It saved me over $4,000 this year… how much has reviewing your bills saved you in the last year?

What types of bills do you find the most errors, price increases and fraudulent transactions on? Is the cable company your worst enemy too?

This post was originally published on May 1, 2013.

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Same thing happened to me! I looked at my cable bill and there was a cable modem rental fee. I called to have it removed and next month, still there. It took 3 calls and 3 months for them to finally remove it and credit me back. I don’t know if they upgrade their systems and it’s a bug that produces erroneous charges or if they are really trying to scam people.

  2. O…M…G!!!! We have had sooooo much trouble with cable companies, mortgage companies, etc. I’m glad to know that we aren’t the only people in the world who catch mistakes on our bills. In fact, we catch a mistake almost every other month on at least one bill. It is crazy! I often wonder how much money that companies make just by billing people wrong. Unbelievable.

  3. My experience has taught me that cable companies are the worst. We finally switched away from Comcast to DirectTV a little while back, hoping that would be better, but nope! They do the same things! We’re finally going to cut cable pretty soon because it’s just been one headache after another. Staying on top of your bills is the only way to keep them from taking advantage of you. Great reminder.

  4. Wow, that sucks Lance. We’ve had the same thing happen with our internet provider over the last year. They keep raising the rates in small amounts while griping & moaning about the costs they incur. Finally my wife called about two months ago and got a manager who knocked down our rate by about 25% and gave us a rate guarantee for the next two years…thankfully we’re not under contract.

  5. I always review my bills. I use the opportunity to lower my costs as well as make sure there are no surprises.

  6. I am with you on this one Lance. You always have to review each and every bill. There are times when just simple mistakes happen, but cable companies and cell phone providers love to just increase your bill with new charges anytime they feel like it.

  7. I friggin’ hate this crap. I just got a letter from my insurance company stating “please sign and return to reject additional coverage. If you don’t, we’ll assuming you want it and add it to your bill”. SERIOUSLY??!! Ridiculous moves by a company who should care about retaining loyalty. I mean, you pay them EVERY MONTH, probably don’t want to piss us off.

  8. You make a good case for checking the bill. I never review my cell phone bill precisely for the reason you state – it’s all electronic and on auto pay. We’ve moved into the OPT-OUT era. Fee increases, adjustments, and the like can sneak by us. You’re right. I need to look at the bill.

  9. As a person who took about 50,000 cable TV billing calls, yeah mistakes are made. Agents work under horrible working conditions that will never change so they do their best to fix other agent’s mistakes. That being said, about 70% of the billing disputes were because the caller did not read their bill, for months and months or even years and then want a refund.

    Agents are willing to work with you (unless you are screaming at them like a lunatic, then you don’t get much) but seriously, you are an adult, read the #%#$! bill. Yes the whole bill, every month.

  10. It’s scary how identity theft is so prevalent these days. Someone out there knows my social security number and I am scared that he or she will use it against me at some point later in life. I also am going to be more cognizant of my bills to see what sneaky tactics will be used against me to get more money out of my pocket. That’s downright stealing!

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