How do I handle an accidental auto epayment? Can I get my accidental payment refunded?

Posted on August 4, 2014

Did you accidentally make an automatic epayment? Set it up to automatically go longer than you intended? Let’s see what we can do….

Bottom line:

If you accidentally let autopayments go on for too long, then (1) delete the autopayment, and (2) ask for a refund. IF your account is paid in full, and you have not knee-jerk-reacted and disputed the payment with your bank (and thus incurred charges for both of us), then yes we usually can reverse the epayment right back to your account, no problem. Read on…

Say you set up your account to make automatic electronic payments. That’s a really good idea because it means you aren’t likely to ever be late, which is great. BUT let’s say you also either set the end date to later than it should be, or, worse, you didn’t put any end date.

The system, like a credit card monthly payment choice you might set up to autodraft your bank account, is not you and it is no where near as smart! It just does what it is told. If you tell it to make a minimum payment, or to pay $X per month, and to do so forever, it will do exactly that. Just like doing that with a credit card, the system will keep doing it until told otherwise (by deleting the instruction, or contacting us and having us modify it for you) or the account closes (which for us is when your lease is terminated, at move out and deposit reconciliation).

We get that it can be upsetting if you mistakenly set it with no end date, or with one later than you think was necessary, but in the end, computers just do what you tell them to do….

Oops, I setup autopayments with NO end date or with an end date of July or August

So, if you set up your auto epayment without an end date or with one past when you planned to make a payment, well, its going to just keep on making the payment until the End Date criteria is met. If it is not set at all, that criteria will never happen so it keeps on doing it until the account is terminated. We’d catch up with it at termination, and, again like a credit card, would send the money back to the primary account holder along with any other account reconciliation that needs to happen (e.g. Security Deposit!) because it would appear as a credit balance on the account if it wasn’t applied to existing charges.

Setting it for July.

Sometimes people aren’t thinking about their “last” installment and set the end date for July. What happens? Well, if you set the end date to July of your lease year, then you personally will end up having one more installment pulled from your bank account. This is because for most leases, the “last” installment is paid before you move in, and this last installment covers July, so July is already paid, so if you end up paying in July because of when you set your autopayment to end, then you end up paying more than you probably planned to pay.

Delete the autopayment you set up–but not the account

This is the first thing. Log in, go to your recurring payments, and find the autopayment you set up and delete the auto payment. Do this now! Otherwise, it will do it again the next month if the End Date still hasn’t happened! If you can’t handle it, just send us a note saying “please delete my auto epayment” and we will do it for you, no problem. You may overreact and just delete the account, and that would be bad, because the only way we will process a payment back to you personally (versus to the primary contact on the account as part of security deposit reconciliation), is if we can reverse it back to the account it was paid from, and then only if a few other things are met. Let’s look at those….

Can you get a refund? Most of the time, yes, but…

Let’s talk a bit about what the payment means. From our perspective, someone has an account, and they made a payment to that account and we have no way of knowing whether they intended to do so or not, and if they didn’t, and we totally get that mistakes can happen, then we will only know when you tell us.

Can we refund the payment directly to the payor once they tell us? Maybe…. and we try to do so, but its a bit more complicated than it may seem. Its not as simple as ‘hey, I gave you X but didn’t mean to so please give me X back.’ And, its even more complicated if you are on a jointly and severally liable lease (that is, if you have roommates).

Let’s look at a few things about refunds….

Has the payment cleared our bank?

We can’t address any sort of refund until the payment has fully processed and cleared our bank. If its in a pending status on our end, then we won’t address it until it clears. Note, if its REALLY early, within hours of initiating the transaction, we can sometimes DELETE a pending payment, so get with us as fast as possible!

Is/was there a balance due on the account?

If your account had a balance due, your payment, even if you didn’t mean to make it, is owed on the account, and will be applied to the balance due. Since its all one bucket, and its not up to us to determine who is paying what, your payment gets applied to the shared account balance. Also, remember, if you are on a lease with other people, then you are all jointly and severally liable on an account, so while you may have paid what you consider your fair share, if there’s a balance due, then that’s something you would need to take up with your housemates.

DO NOT dispute the charge with your bank

If you dispute the charge at your bank, you will incur a charge at your bank AND we will get one as well, and we will charge you a minimum $50 returned item fee for that (both our bank AND the processor charge us fees when you do this, and we pass them to you). Seriously, you set it up, you then see it, you then dispute it with you bank, all of which involved, well, you, and then, of course, you won’t be happy about all the charges, but we won’t know about them until you tell us and/or the bank dings us for the dispute and takes back the credit….  Just tell us about the issue and we can refund it (provided you have no balance due on the account)… it’ll go a lot smoother! :-)

Sign an affidavit agreeing not to dispute

You didn’t dispute it. Good. That saved you anywhere from $50-100! Now, we need you to sign a quick electronic document affirming that you have not and will not dispute the charge (because if we refund it, and you dispute it, and you effectively end up with double the money, we will not be happy, and there will be financial, and potentially legal (because that would be fraud), consequences. Yes, this has happened on occasion, and no it didn’t go well….

Is your electronic bank account still in place?

We only return the payment by reversing all or part of the payment via the electronic account you used to process the payment. So DO NOT delete the banking information. If you remove the banking information and we are not able to issue an electronic refund of the payment, then resolution of the problem will revolve to the deposit return process (i.e. the money will be accounted for and returned as part of the deposit return process).

Are you a part of a jointly and severally liable lease?

Since jointly and severally liable leases have one shared account, all charges and payments to that account become part of the shared account and are no longer simply attributable to a specific individual. As such, refunds or reapportionment of funds is something that is better left to the roommates to handle among themselves. When a request is made to us to issue a refund to a specific person for whatever reason, then that request must be agreed to by all parties to the lease (again because the payments and charges are part of one shared account once made).

Any overpayment, mistaken or otherwise, is a credit balance on a lease account.

Beyond all this, basically any payment to an account that was intended for that account is applied to any current or future charges, FIFO, and any credit balance is resolved at account closeout–or can be resolved among roommates themselves in the case of jointly and severally liable accounts.

We want to help you out, and we understand mistakes can be made. In the end, the terms of the account do not make provision for a “mistaken” payment. You send a company a check or make an epayment when you didn’t mean to, no one will just hand over the money if you have a balance on the account. Try it. Make a payment to a credit card company, then call and ask for it back when you had a balance due. Just won’t happen…. and if it does, you’ll likely be socked with fees, interest, etc etc. Even if you make a payment when there’s a $0 balance, companies will not refund that money for a period of time in order to protect themselves from fraud. Did you know that if you accidentally make a rather large overpayment to a card company, not only might it come to the attention of their fraud department, but likely the authorities as well. This is because of an increasingly common overpayment/refund scam being pulled on all sorts of companies.

In any event, if there is any question about what is going on, then the resolution of the credit balance will be that of the lease process: any credit balance on the account at the time of lease termination will be included in the security deposit reconciliation process and any money to be refunded will be sent to the primary contact on the lease. It would then be up to the lessees (on jointly and severally liable leases) to sort out who owes whom money.

However, as noted above, we are willing to work with individual payers to reverse the payment.

Send us a note quickly if the mistake happened recently, we might be able to catch it and simply delete it. If not, please complete a request for a e-payment reversal and we will see what we can do.