These days everyone knows there is no such thing as a free lunch, so when a company repeatedly fails to bill for a service you might get a bit worried, rather than thinking you've struck it lucky.
And when it does happen the sudden arrival of massive bills or, even worse, debt collectors sent by companies is not unheard of.
So when Steve Bartlett contacted me, he was getting increasingly worried because he couldn't get his internet service provider (ISP), Tiscali, to take any money for his internet service.
"They seem to have an inability to claim the monthly charge from my credit card account, despite repeated attempts by me to contact them and send money," he told me.
It wasn't even as if Mr Bartlett didn't exist on Tiscali's database. He had originally been signed up to Libertysurf, bought by Tiscali back in 2001. But from July 2001 to March 2003, Tiscali had only claimed nine monthly payments out of a possible 22.
His last payment was in January this year, after he received a bill in November 2002 for £164. Because he didn't want to have to pay this in one lump sum he contacted Tiscali.
"A repayment plan was agreed where I got a month's free access as a goodwill gesture and they would take £52 per month and I have a letter to that effect," he told me.
"Then in January they took £45 and in February I got a bill for £134 but they didn't take any payment, again. Am I alone with this problem or do you know of any other cases?"
Tiscali has had some problems with billing its customers in the past.
After Tiscali acquired an ISP, World on Line, in 2000, I was inundated with mail from people being sent bills months after the due date or even if they had ended their contracts a year before.
This problem lasted a good many months but then things went quiet, so it looked like Tiscali had sorted out its billing problems.
When I contacted Tiscali, it admitted it had been less than diligent in collecting Mr Bartlett's payments.
"We are aware of the haphazard collection of monies owed to us in the recent past, which we are in the process of updating to a monthly basis, but we now have no record of his payment details," a Tiscali spokeswoman told me.
"If Mr Bartlett wishes to send me his credit card details, we can ensure that the outstanding payments for December, January and February can be made straight away."
Mr Bartlett was less than impressed with this response. "They had my details in January but I will resend them," he said.
Tiscali's response didn't make sense to me. I asked it why it was talking about taking payments for December and January when Mr Bartlett had already made a payment in January.
Tiscali also seemed to have forgotten about the agreement that would allow him to pay in instalments since February's bill was a whopping £134.
Finally I seem to have got through to them. Tiscali will now take £48 per month for current and back bills until June.
Then the payments will revert to the normal monthly fee of £15. Mr Bartlett told me that Tiscali had taken a payment this month for the right amount. Let's hope they keep on getting it right now.
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