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Sometimes you just want to scream at the phone, I dont want to press anything. I want to talk to a real person! Because I usually dont want any of the choices, I often just press zero in hopes of reaching someone who can actually answer my question. But this practice has caused me to miss out on a valuable service I just discovered the other day.

Even though you can request your utility bills, your bank statements, and your credit card bills in Braille, they are often difficult to manage, because they are pages and pages long and include repetitious information I dont want or need. I use the automated phone service all the time to check on my bank accounts, but it hadnt occurred to me that you can do the same thing with your Visa bill. I might be the last blind person in the world to discover this, but just in case you didnt know it, heres how it works.

Call your cards customer service number. Enter the last 4 digits of your card number, and then follow the prompts. By doing this the other day, I learned that they had charged me $18 for interest and service charges for a late payment. I immediately called the number back and spoke to a real person who agreed that the late charge needed to be taken off, because I had not been late with my last payment. When I called just now, I discovered that the nail salon I went to yesterday did not charge me the right amount. When I sign a receipt, with no one to look over my shoulder to make sure its right, I have to trust the person at the desk. Thats a risk I take, but if its not right, and I call the automated service quickly, I can make it right. This automation has proved to be not a nuisance but an empowering tool to my advantage.

For people who dont use Braille and cant read print, or dont have someone trustworthy to read their statement to them, its the next best way to have control over your finances.

I spent an outrageous amount of money on a scanner, so I could read my own bills, but Im finding that I use it more for other documents. For keeping track of the money I spend, Im using the good old telephone. Its not a smart phone. Its not an iPad. Its not the internet. Its just a phone. Sometimes less is more.

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