Zodah: Yoda for Bill-Pay

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Tech Talk, XX

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from a friend:

Invitation-only Betas always catch my attention. It’s like being invited to sit at the cool table in cyberspace. Though I’ve only been on Zodah for one week, I’ve tinkered around, and so far, I like what I’ve seen. I can see Zodah being especially useful for the college-student and recent-graduate demographic as they learn to cope with aspects of the real world that can be quite the buzz kill. Zodah not only reminds you to pay bills, but also lets you compare bills with friends and gives suggestions on how you can save money. It makes bill-paying, dare I say it, fun. You can request an invite on the site, or shoot detech’d an email and we (as users) would love to invite you (it’s more fun that way). 

Using Zodah requires registration (a simple email address, zip code, and password entry) followed by the linking of your different billing accounts (credit card, cable/internet/phone service, home utility, loan/mortgage, insurance bill, and other miscellaneous bills) to your Zodah account. At this point, I’m living at home (yay Boomerang!) so the only bill that I see with my own eyes is my cell phone bill. I connected my AT&T Wireless bill to my Zodah account. Paid bills (recent and in the last year) and unpaid bills show up in your Zodah “inbox.” Zodah sends you emails as payment due-dates approach. You can choose which bills you want to share with friends.

The site uses Facebook connect to find which of your Facebook friends are using Zodah. Once you connect with them, you can see the bills they’ve shared. You can also invite specific (or all) your email contacts to join the site.

When I join a site, one of the first services I test is Support. I like to build a relationship with services that I use, especially ones like Zodah where I am submitting quite a bit of personal information. I submitted a feature idea and, within 12 hours, received a (very enthusiastic) response from a Zodah employee — brownie points.

I’ve noticed a couple hiccups here and there. For example, I have a bill due on Saturday which doesn’t show up in my “Unpaid” inbox. My other friends on the site don’t seem to have this problem. Glitches like this are to be expected of a Beta, but the service is pretty cool and will only get cooler.

[Random Musing on Zodah & Culture: Today, sharing is cool. We share what we’re reading, what we’re doing, what we like. And we enjoy when others share. Zodah builds on this attitude with a traditionally solo (and sometimes private) activity. Suddenly, “How much do you pay for…” is no longer categorized with questions like “How old are you?” or “Are you pregnant?” As in, questions you simply don’t ask people. Wanting to share a bill is generation- and personality-based. I am pretty comfortable with sharing my cell phone bill with friends. But arguably, cell phone bills aren’t as “big a deal” as say, mortgage loans. I’ve never personally had one, so I can’t quite speak to my thoughts on sharing the bill with others. When I showed my dad the screenshot of my cell phone bill, he asked, “Why don’t you blur out the actual price?” “Well, I don’t really mind sharing it. It’s just the cost of my cell phone bill,” I responded. My parents are way more private about this kind of stuff. It’ll be interesting to see what demographic latches on to Zodah.]

In case you hate reading, what follows is a series of screenshots documenting my experience.

(If you’re wondering why my bill is so high, I just realized I’m still being charged an international rate for a trip I took to Mexico four months ago…love ya, AT&T!)

If only my lack of bills to pay was representative of reality. I also appreciate Zodah’s congratulatory, “You earned it!” They sure don’t know what little I’ve done in this past week…Happy bill-paying!

-Ro

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