Left In Lowell

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October 23, 2012

New City Billpay Website

by at 7:45 pm.

It’s streamlined and easier to understand, unveiled at tonight’s meeting. It includes the ability to register, if you like, and get emails every time a new bill gets issued. Very useful. From the front page of the pay section:

The City of Lowell offers residents an easy and secure way to view, print and pay their real estate tax, personal property tax, motor vehicle tax and water bills online. We support electronic bill presentment (viewing) and payment because it is more convenient for residents and better for the environment.

Online Bill Payment, in partnership with Invoice Cloud, offers the following benefits:

  • No registration required
  • You have the option to pay immediately or schedule a payment
  • Get an emailed confirmation of payment or print a receipt
  • You may sign up for automatic payments
  • You may choose to “Go Paperless” to reduce clutter and help the environment
  • E-check is less than the cost of a stamp!

The following bills are available for online payment:

  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Personal Property Taxes
  • Water/Sewer/Refuse Utility Billing
  • Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes
  • Boat Excise Taxes
  • Parking Tickets

Visa, Mastercard, Discover and echeck are accepted. The convenience fee for echecks is only $.40, it’s $1-$3.95 for credit cards.

After clicking around a bit, this appears to be a vast improvement over the previous system, so thumbs up.

It’s easier to do a search (at least for real estate taxes) as they explained tonight. Since real estate taxes are public info, all you need is any part of your name (though if it’s “John” you search for you’ll get a million results) or address, or bill # if you have it, and you can see your past and current bills. Other billpays need the bill# as a required search term.

14 Responses to “New City Billpay Website”

  1. -b Says:

    Funny, I’ve used the new site several times now and it seemed like a step back to me.

    After multiple times logging into look for my bill with no luck I contacted the city and they suggested I mail it to them. :-(

    So that’s not really a usability thing, but I also couldn’t find a log out button - took me a minute to figure out that you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page for that. Annoying.

  2. Lynne Says:

    Good points, and hopefully the city will look into it. I haven’t done more than look for my real estate bill yet (and that is paid automatically, though it’s good to see that my mortgage co is current), so I can’t speak to the search problem. Moving a logout link should be easy enough.

  3. Kathy Says:

    That’s strange. I didn’t have any problems with the site. I love it. I much prefer paying bills online, and this site worked like a charm for me.

  4. Joe S. Says:

    I had a problem in registering and contacted the City. They informed me that you must have an outstanding bill in order to register, and that applies separately to each type of bill. In my case I tried to register for the water bill using my last water bill which I had already paid and the system would not allow me to register with that. I have to wait until I get my next bill in order to register.

    That is a flaw (as it requires the City to mail at least one more bill) but one that is acceptable, although the City should note that in the procedure to register so people don’t run into the same problem.

    A few minor issues should be expected and corrected. If at first you don’t succeed, try again!

  5. Tony Says:

    The “convenience fee” is a joke. It may be more convenient for me to pay that way, but I guarantee it’s also a lot more convenient for the city. Charging people to pay their bill is BS.

  6. Magnolia Says:

    I’m with Tony.

  7. Lynne Says:

    Well, yes and no. Transactions that go across a merchant gateway get charged. So, unless the chunk of money comes out of what the City takes in, which loses them a decent amount of money IMHO if everyone started doing this electronically, I could see why they ask for it. Also, it might be a law or rule that they have to collect 100% of the tax/fee, I don’t know. It might be they are unable by statute to reduce the revenue taken in by the amount charged by merchant gateways. An explanation of that might be in order.

    RE being more convenient for the city, unless over 50-75% of residents decide to go electronic, do we really think the city can reduce staffing? They are paying for that staffing either way, so their expenses don’t go down. Eventually you get payback in the form of employees being able to do other tasks instead or reducing workforce, but it’s not like on a usual basis, the lines at the Clerk’s or Tax offices are like, really long most days. It’s not like they can close the office, they always have to be open during regular hours one way or another.

    Personally, I like the echeck, as the fee is set to a tiny $.40, and it’s just as much a pain for me to enter bank info as credit info, so it’s not like this makes more work.

  8. Lynne Says:

    Oh and RE echecks, all my credit cards that I use are really bank cards anyway, I don’t do credit cards, so for me it’s a no brainer.

  9. Joe S. Says:

    The 40 cent fee goes to the third party as Lynne has pointed out, and it is less than the stamp you need to pay by mail. Everybody wins, except the post office.

  10. Lynne Says:

    True dat!

  11. Tony Says:

    I can send a check via my bank’s online bill pay for free and they don’t charge for postage.

  12. Lynne Says:

    True. Always an option. Actually, now that you mention it…that’s weird! Many billpay bills I send from the bank are paper bills (no electronic option available, like when I pay our dog sitter). They must be eating that cost.

    I have a CU, too, so they are fairly fee-light.

  13. erin Says:

    I haven’t had a good experience with the new billpay system. I initially submitted the payment before the due date yet was charged the late amount. Then, after receiving an email confirming payment almost immediately, I receive another email saying the payment didn’t process due to a system error. I wasn’t able to submit payment again until the day after it was due (regardless of attempts & emails back & forth). As a result, I was charged the late payment amount. I emailed proof of the issue & received assurance it was resolved. I requested to be removed from the new system & receive paper bills. Next quarter rolls around, I get an email for the bill uet nothing in the mail until after I emailed another request for a paper bill. This quarter, I received the bill 6/21 with a due date 7/8. I mailed the payment the same day yet, over a month later, it has yet to clear my bank & I get no reply from the city.

  14. Lynne Says:

    Hi erin, this post is really really old. No one will see your comment but us moderators. But I recommend calling the Mayor’s office if you feel that you are getting no where. Jen Myers will know who to go to to clear things up, and your feedback on the problems would be invaluable.

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