LET’S BAN PENNIES – Marilyn Armstrong

I got an email from AT&T. It was alarming. I was overdue on my bill! They were going to report me to collection agencies, send it to all those companies that decide whether or not you deserve to have a credit card or a mortgage.

I was surprised because I paid the bill. On-time. Online. I know I did.

Obverse side of a 1990 issued US Penny. Pictur...

So, after resetting my password — it doesn’t matter how many times I set my password … the next time I go to AT&T’s website, I will have to do it again — I looked at my bill. Somehow, I had underpaid the bill by a penny.

One cent. $00.01

In retribution for my oversight, AT&T said they would sic the collection agencies on me. I deserve to pay heavily for this lapse in fiscal responsibility. Though I think it was their error, not mine, but let’s not quibble.

There are many battles to fight in life. One must pick amongst them lest one be overwhelmed. This giant corporation is going to destroy my credit for want of a penny. This is what happens when computers run the world and no people monitor what they are doing. I’m sure this was all automatically generated.

I am sure if I’d called them, they would have canceled the bill. but that would take even more time and effort. I fondly believe my time, even retired, is worth more than a penny.

So I paid the bill. I wasn’t actually sure my bank would let me pay a one-cent bill, but they did.

One cent. Just one cent. Mind-boggling.

Categories: Customer Service, Economics, Humor, Legal Matters, Marilyn Armstrong, Money

Tags: , , , , , ,

37 replies

  1. I’ve had a similar problem with my phone bill whenever I go over whatever imaginary line in the sand equals my data plan. I would say I hate my cell phone—except I’m using it to write this message. I try not to be ironic this early in the day. My other pet peeve is the credit card that requires a minimum balance based on a percentage of my balance due. Even if you set up an automated amount just in case, like I did while going through treatment, you miss a payment, if it’s not enough then you get socked with late fees. Everything in the world seems driven to penny, nickel, and dime you to death!


  2. That’s the scenario where you take a penny down to corporate headquarters and throw it through their front window. Don’t worry too much about the criminal charges, because you’d be made out to be a folk hero of the common person on the news, and they’d surely GoFundMe your bail…. which could be paid for in pennies.


  3. Bizarre, and I agree with your plan of not wasting your time any more than necessary.


  4. Australia did away with one and two-cent coins years ago. I don’t think they are legal tender any more. If you pay cash for an item it’s rounded up or down. It’s moronic that things like this happen but as you say that’s what happens when it’s all done by a computer. The government welfare agency, Centrelink, has been heavily criticised for its use of a flawed debt collecting system. The algorithm the system uses has been responsible for many welfare recipients receiving huge bills. sometimes thousands of dollars for overpaid benefits. Some have even been sent to dead people. “Robodebt” has become such a big issue that the government has been forced to admit that it is faulty after several years of this happening. It doesn’t undo the pain and heartache of the people sent threatening letters. At least one suicide has been directly linked to it.


  5. Your excellent post prompted me to repost something I wrote six years ago on my old blog. The topic was the lowly penny.


    • It was when the toll booths refused pennies that I realized pennies aren’t really money anymore, so why to we print gazillions of them? And to get a COLLECTION notice for a 1 cent difference? Seriously? And they wonder why I won’t use their phones anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You should have mailed it COD taped to a brick. I spent over 8 weeks trying to get Ellin back on our insurance that CBS Insisted she was never taken off because UHC changed plans and won’t accept a PO Box as an address. Even though I called them to update it over a dozen times. And this was with people.


  7. Ahh, the malevolent incompetence of the world…..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stupidity is no respecter of individual status or giant idiotic corporations. I’m shocked that your bank let you pay a penny too, but perhaps they’ve just given in to the overall idiocy of life as we know it in 2019. The world is stupid and getting a lot stupider. No wonder, to me, that we’re killing ourselves through lack of fore sight and entitlement. I like pennies, as it happens, I got $50 once for a pristine wheat sheaf or perhaps it was the now politically incorrect indian head penny. I thought that was a fine bargain! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We probably should ban pennies. You can’t use them anywhere, not even in a toll booth. I used to give them out on Halloween. It costs more to create them than they are worth. The OLD ones are for collectors.


  9. We already did that in Canada. I can’t even find a penny now.
    I was just saying to a friend that when I was a kid, i could buy a pop for ten cents – then we’d turn the bottle in for 2 cents. And buy some candy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was going to mention that we don’t use pennies in Canada anymore but DCMontreal beat me.
    Having worked in the banking electronic payment services the processing of a one cent payment
    If you wrote a cheque, which I would have done out of spite…
    Cheques cost between $2.00 and $3.85 more to process than electronic payments. PaySavvy determined the total cost of issuing one cheque is $17 when you take into account secondary costs. According to Payments Canada, cheques cost between $15-25 per cheque and can be as high as $50 in some cases.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Not too long ago, I overpaid a bill by one cent. I figured I’d let it go. But about a month later, I received a check for $.01 – it cost them $.47 in postage and heaven knows how much in employee wages. The whole world’s gone wacky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the result of everything being done by a computer. As far as the computer knows, if it doesn’t add up, that’s it. There’s no “person” to look at the bill and say “forget it.” No people. And this is what AI is going to do to everyone eventually. A country run by human morons is actually a better deal than electronic morons.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. And the bank probably charged you $1.25 in service fees to pay it 😀


  13. I had that happen with my taxes when in business. I rounded it off and was out by about a penny. They fined me a hundred dollars.


  14. Although it would not have affected your situation as an electronic payment, but in Canada we no longer use pennies. They are still legal tender should you have a garage full of them, but in stores, we round up/down. An item that comes to $65.97 will cost you $65.95. While $65.98 jumps to $66.00



  1. My Two Cents Worth – This, That, and The Other
  2. IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

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