I am writing in the hope of alerting county residents of recent changes in Shentel’s business practices that will cost customers $5.00 or more every month unless they comply with the company’s demands. The intended effect of these new rules is to shift the expense for mailing statements and receiving payment by check to consumers through a series of new junk fees.
Over a year ago, we changed internet service from Frontier to Shentel. I pay the bill using online banking to send payments automatically so I don’t have to write a check. Recently, I received a notice from Shentel saying that I was two months behind in payments and that our internet service would be stopped on 9/26/2022 if we didn’t make payments – including late fees – immediately. So I called them to see what the problem was. Turns out the Customer Number I had been using for online payments was missing a Statement Number at the end – so the computer system was not recording payments even though I could see that the payments had been processed by my bank. This is when the conversation started getting weird.
I was told that previous payments had been manually applied to our account for the past year even though the account number was in error. While we were talking I changed the account number in my online banking to include the statement number. I was told the payments would be credited to our account and the late fees would be waived. Not much to be upset about although I couldn’t understand why this issue was suddenly a problem.
Then I was told that I would have to register an online account with Shentel so that I could receive monthly statements. If I didn’t agree to paperless billing I would have to pay $2.50 each month to continue receiving monthly paper statements. I said it wasn’t really important for us to get paper statements so, since Shentel already had my email address I authorized them to start sending statements electronically but I didn’t want to open a Shentel online account. That wasn’t good enough. I had to start an account in order to receive paperless statements. At this point I was getting irritated that I was being forced to comply with newly rigid procedures.
Next, I was told that, starting October 1, I would have to authorize Shentel to access my bank account every month to take payment through online billing or else incur a different fee of $2.50 to continue paying via online banking or with a check through the mail.
That’s when I got really upset because I realized that Shentel wanted to stop paying for typical expenses for billing and payment processing – and shift those costs to customers who want to continue receiving paper statements and paying with checks sent through the mail – which would primarily be older customers like me. I refused to authorize participation in Shentel’s online bill payment system and said I would continue making online payments through online banking. I said receiving electronic payments controlled by me was the same cost to them – near zero – and that I shouldn’t be required to authorize Shentel to take funds from my bank account to avoid a monthly fee for sending them money electronically. I was told the fee would be waived for one month to give me time to complain in writing – which I intend to do.
I encourage all Shentel customers to take a close look at their bills and see whether they are incurring new junk fees to pay for what are normally the costs of doing business with the public.