Shawmut National Corp. unveiled an automated service Monday to let consumers pay bills over the telephone.

The service, called Bill-Line, will be marketed to customers of Connecticut National Bank and Shawmut Bank, officials at the bank holding company said.

Reviving a Failed Service

Banks first tried telephone bill payment services in the 1980s and then mostly abandoned them because of slack customer demand. Recently, institutions have begun to offer such services again, citing as their stimulus the increased use of customer-service telephone lines.

With Bill-Line, customers select the vendors they frequently pay with checks. Several later, instructions arrive on how to use the system, and customers can begin paying their bills by calling a 24-hour, toll-free number from a Touch-Tone phone.

When the customer is finished paying bills, the computer's voice summarizes the bills paid and the total payment amount.

The service will cost most customers $4 per month - $3 a month to customers with a Partnership relationship that links all their accounts to a single statement.

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