When a mis-filed rates notice costs you…

I thought of Tom Tate this morning.

It’s an odd thing to admit, I know.

But it’s true – as I was tidying up my desk, I found a Council rates notice stuffed inside a manila folder of my kids’ school forms, and I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realised that I hadn’t paid it yet. I must have accidentally mis-filed it with their school enrolments for next year, and I just knew that simple mistake was going to cost me!


And cost me, it did.

The amount owing started out at $870.

Because it wasn’t paid by the due date, it leapt up to $928.

Because it’s now three weeks past the due date, the penalty interest has bumped it up to $934.

And then, just to rub a little salt into the wound, a credit card processing fee was added (I wanted to pay it immediately to avoid any more interest, rather than pay via BPAY for free and it have it take a few days to process). This brought my final amount owing to $938.

In total I’ve paid an extra $68 on my council rates this half-year – a penalty of almost 8%! – for being three weeks late with my payment.

That’s when Tom Tate popped into my mind. I wondered: “Did you approve this harsh and hefty penalty system for late payments, Mr Mayor?”

This was a supremely annoying and expensive oversight. Over the last seven years of being a Gold Coast ratepayer, I haven’t paid my notice late even once – the “discount” applied to the bill has always enough incentive to make sure it was paid as a priority, before anything else.

But, I get that I can’t be angry about it, because the mistake was all mine.

I have no one to blame but myself, as much as I really want to put the blame somewhere else. But I can’t. I received my rates bill with plenty of notice, I just put it in the wrong place and completely forgot to pay it. Time to set up a direct debit, I think.

When was the last time you made a small mistake that had expensive consequences?!