Pop quiz, you’re hit with a bunch of stressful fees at once, which do you pay and which do you let ride? I’m only asking, because at some point it seems like there starts to be some incentive to just let it all ride and see which ones actually come after you.
The obvious answer is, “Oh just pay your fees” but that’s not necessarily the correct answer – it’s just the simple answer. For instance, three years ago, I decided to test the waters and not pay two different exorbitant $84 fines for missing two different $2 Chicago iPass tolls. I just wrote back to the collection agency that I didn’t have the money to pay them, and they were welcome to dock my credit. They never contacted me again, and my credit was never docked. So in that case I seem to have saved myself $168 that I might have otherwise just mailed in. Either that, or the fees have secretly been adding interest and I now owe Illinois a million dollars that I’m unaware of.
More recently I’ve been hit with the following, via snail mail:
-$70 parking ticket to the city of Atlanta (arrived 10 minutes late to my 2 hour parking spot)
-$18 to Enterprise Rental Car, for being contacted by the city of Atlanta (apparently this is in the Enterprise contract)
-$75 parking ticket to the city of NYC for a parking ticket that the meter person never gave you – you ran inside to a health clinic because you thought you had the flu (turned out to be pollution allergies), and when you came out 10 minutes later there was a meter maid writing a ticket, and when you explained what happened, she walked off, and appeared to have not ticketed you (but apparently she did and now you have late fees, too)
- $780 after penalties to the state of North Carolina for $300 of taxes you apparently didn’t pay in 2008 (even though you made almost nothing in 2008, and could have sworn you filed through Turbo Tax and took care of everything you did make)
A) Pay everything immediately
B) Let everything ride, and see what goes to collection (save that short term money!)
C) Let the tickets ride, but deal with the NC taxes (after all they can freeze your bank account I’ve heard!)
D) Deal with everything except the Atlanta parking ticket, $70 seems a bit excessive, and how often will you be parking in Atlanta??
E) Deal with everything except the $18 Enterprise fee. How often do I need to use Enterprise?
F) Go off the grid completely and squat somewhere in a cabin in Maine – the silence of snow falling is so cathartic!
**Amendment to this post**
Okay, so I’ve received some concerned emails and phone calls about this. I just want you to know, I’ve paid all of these off, and my credit is fine. I’ve also contacted NC about the taxes, and we’ve entered into an enlightening discussion. Everything is going to be OKAY, I promise. This was just meant to be a silly hypothetical question posed as to the actual risk/reward incentives of paying vs. letting it ride. But I get it, we’re all very responsible and VERY serious about not letting it ride. I’m still not convinced, but everything is paid and up to date thanks to anxiety and peer pressure, so no real worries. Still waiting to hear back from gambling experts and economists.