College Connect: In Today’s Electronic Age, Receipts Can Be Your Friend

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Covey Eonyak Son

My dad always told me to hold onto my receipts, no matter how minor the purchase. He was obsessed with collecting them. He even had boxes (yes, multiple) of old receipts and invoices in his home office. Just in case.

A little over a year ago, my dad’s advice came back ringing in my head. I finally understood why he so meticulously kept all of his receipts.

It was July 2015. I had wrapped up my sophomore year in college two months earlier. I was home in Los Angeles doing an internship at the local business journal.

One day, I got a phone call from an unfamiliar number. It was a firm that managed my old apartment in Columbia, Mo. — one of those massive student housing complexes that have popped up in college towns everywhere.

The voice on the other end informed me that I had apparently failed to pay my final rent from May. He said if I didn’t pay the $550 rent plus a $65 late charge, the collection department would be “forced to take action.” It felt like a mob shakedown.

I was shocked; I was pretty sure I made the payment on time. I checked my bank statement online and sure enough, I made the payment three days before the due date. The money was taken out of my checking account.

However, the man didn’t care for my bank statement, which I forwarded via email. He demanded to see the receipt I would’ve received by email after making the payment. I looked through my inbox and spam folders. No receipt. It took me a while before I remembered deleting something from the company along with a few other junk-looking emails.

The company eventually conceded there was a clerical error on their part that misplaced my payment in a different account, but not for another month. In that time, the company’s accountant continued to call me every few days to talk about the payment, to which I had nothing new to say or show. My credit score took a blow as a result of the “missing” payment. It was eventually reverted, but only after several days of phone tag with a collection agent.

In hindsight, no permanent damage was done. It wasn’t a problem I caused. Yet I still wish I had kept the proof of payment, not so much as a record for me, but an insurance policy to vindicate me of wrongdoing. It sure would have been the simplest way of preventing this incident.

Son is a political science major at the University of Missouri.

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