Saturday, July 24, 2010
Things I hate about VN - Paying utility bills
Most of the time Vietnam is a wonderful place to live, but some things get rather tiresome. Therefore, I'll be writing a series of entries about some of the negative or 'different' ways of doing things in this part of the world. And the first is paying utility bills.
In England, you generally receive your bill and are given a month or two to pay it. The companies allow you to set up a direct debit so that you don't have to physically give them cash so there isn't generally a problem with keeping up with payments (unless of course you're bank account is a little deflated.)
However, in VN, things work a little differently. I'll give paying for the internet as an example, but I've had identical experiences with the water, electricity and television.
Usually, a man comes around the apartment block some time during the day when both Hanh and I are at work. He knocks on the door, waits a few minutes, realises that no one is home and slides the bill under the door.
Next, I come home at about 6:00pm and put it on the speakers and wait for Hanh to return as I can't read Vietnamese. It usually says we have 2 days to pay it and we should come to one of their offices. The office is open Monday - Friday between 9-5. What's more, the bill usually arrives on Thursday or Friday and if we don't pay by the Monday we'll be cut off. Nice
Well, I know from experience in the UK, these threats are rarely carried but in VN they mean it. If we don't pay within the 2 days we are cut off. We've got through days of no TV (during the world cup), no power or internet. Half of the time it's because Hanh had no time to go into town to pay them. The other half is that we receive the bill AFTER the deadline. i.e. we get CUT OFF FIRST and then receive the bill. Whether this is because the bill collector just can't be bothered to deliver them or the company is understaffed isn't really the point, how can they justify this!
Additionally, we can't even set up a direct debit so we have to pay in cash. The bill collector comes when most people are working, so I'm sure a lot of people share similar problems! Also, I don't tend to carry too much cash around, so even if I am at home, I don't usually have enough money on me to pay.
One solution is that for the TV and Internet we can pay in advance. Hanh and I have completed our due payments for the these essentials but for the water and electric where the bills vary from month to month I'm at a lose of how to solve this conundrum.