Inconvenient Convenience Fees and Other Troublesome Dues

Mail thief, I want you to know that the effects of your crime continue long after you have gone. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the trials and tribulations that happen when your mailroom is broken into. Well, the beat goes on.

Post Office Boxes
USPS Post Office Boxes by Howcheng via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

To recap, the mailroom at my condo has been broken into a total of four times in the last six months.  After the second break-in, I decided that I wanted my mail to be more secure, so I paid for a Post Office box downtown, and to have my mail forwarded there.

I was expecting a cheque for over $1000 and also my tax documents from the Canada Revenue Agency, among other things. I would be sure to get them in the new PO box, right? Unfortunately, the US Postal Service made a mistake and returned all my mail to its senders.

Yesterday I received an email telling me that my Home Owners Association dues were in arrears and had not been paid for three months. The email told me that I had been sent delinquency notices and was therefore being charged a delinquency fee. I had not received the notices, of course, because they had been returned to the HOA by USPS.

I thought I had a direct debit arrangement with the HOA, but I was wrong. I was supposed to create a new agreement for the new year, but when I enquired at that time I was given to understand that I didn’t need to do it again. Either I asked the wrong question or I misunderstood the answer, because my understanding was incorrect. So, this made me both angry and upset. I was in a panic because I need to have my payments made regularly in order to keep on top of my expenses.

Panic key
Panic by Geralt via Pixabay (CC 0)

To relieve that panicky feeling, I went online and immediately paid the balance using my credit card, which generated a $45 “convenience” fee.  Their idea of convenience is obviously not the same as mine, but I didn’t want to wait until my next pension payment appeared in my chequing account. After I had done that, I heard from the HOA that they would waive the delinquency fee, but it was already too late. I had paid it along with the dues.

I then filled out the form for a direct debit to be made every month, and put it in the mail with a void cheque.  Actually, I put it in the outgoing mail slot in the mail room and just hoped for the best.  If it gets stolen from there you may be reading more about this little saga some time in the next couple of weeks!

I still have not received my tax documents and instead contacted my Member of Parliament in Canada. After I told him the story, he sent me a form to sign which authorized Canada Revenue to send my documents to him. I returned that, and he subsequently emailed the documents to me so that I could send them to my tax accountant.  At least that little dilemma is over.  I still don’t know if I have all the tax information I should have, but I’m going to send in my tax return anyway and just hope for the best.

The cheque I was awaiting has not materialized, so I contacted the sender who advised me to wait a few more days then call back.  I will have to ask them to cancel that cheque and send me another one. It would have been really nice to have received that in order to be able to pay the overdue HOA fees, wouldn’t it?

IMG_1521I had been having my Canadian mail forwarded to my American address, but because of all this nonsense I have cancelled that arrangement. It’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it’s one less thing to think about.

Now I wonder what other mail has been returned to its sender. I have not received a single item of mail in the PO Box in the six weeks that I have had it, except for a notice to pick up a small package that required a signature. Otherwise, nothing. I have, however, received in my condo mailbox some magazines and advertising flyers.  Great. All the junk but none of the serious mail. I probably should have just let the mail continue being sent there, but that is 20/20 hindsight.

The mailroom is now a bit of a mess, with doors off parcel boxes and various either evidence of crowbar damage. But, the world has not come to an end. This is just one more reminder that, as Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” But that brings mice into the discussion and I really don’t want to think about that. You can’t pay mice convenience fees to go away.


Edit to add:  Kudos to our property management company. They have refunded the inconvenient fees and are actively seeking quotations for replacing the damaged mail boxes with better ones. My indignation is now under control–more or less.


  1. I put in a USPS mail forwarding order in September 2016, even paid to “verify” the address and start right away, and not a single piece of mail has been forwarded. I pick my mail up every week or so at the old address.

    In decades of forwarding mail from time to time, I have *never* had this bad of service before!

    1. I have had good service in getting my mail forwarded in the past, but this experience has been frustrating. At least you can still pick up your mail at the old address. Not what you wanted, but at least it isn’t lost!

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