Bureaucratic Billing

Is it just me, or does it take a lot of time to pay bills?  In setting up gas, electricity, cable, and phone bills, I discovered that representatives from these companies are more committed to following protocol than to actually getting money.

When I tried to save a few dollars by combining my wireless and landline bills, AT&T told me I couldn’t pay my cell phone bill yet — I had to wait until the landline bill was ready.

Yes, they admitted there was a risk that my cell phone service would be shut off because the bill was overdue.  But it simply wasn’t possible to accept payment from me until a big combined bill was ready to be mailed out.  

With the state of the economy, I assumed that companies would want payment immediately, to avoid the risk of  a customer defaulting. But following a strict order of payment seems to be more important than actually receiving payment.  

Maybe this is less an American quirk, and more a big company thing.  But in the UK, companies took the money we owed them magically from our checking accounts. They mailed or emailed us a statement each month which we looked at with varying degrees of interest.

It was actually too easy to pay by this method. We discovered that we had been paying insurance for a gas heater in a flat that we had sold a year before.  Had we actually received the bill in the mail and written a check, we would have asked the question why we needed a gas heater in a flat we no longer owned.

So maybe the bureaucracy will serve us well — unless my cell phone gets turned off.

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