Monday, August 07, 2006

SEWAt I have to put up with?

How difficult should it be to pay an electricity bill?

In theory it's a doddle. In practice it is...sometimes. The combination of electronic billing and internet banking means that I merely have to tell the bank my SEWA customer number and the amount to pay, and the utilities bill is instantly paid. Huzzah! Another satisfied customer.

This month, in common with typically every second month, I was less fortunate. Log on, click here, pull down 'SEWA', type amount to pay, and...Incorrect bill amount. Payment rejected. Ring 'Red Triangles' bank (who is not ADCB, who only has one red triangle) and quote reference PM01.

I had a happy telephone session with the internet banking helpless desk, who decreed that it was all my browser's fault, and that I needed to fiddle with my PC and adjust the cookie and firewall settings. Seemingly the bank was incapable of understanding that the same settings were fine last month. Eventually it emerged that reference PM01 means 'payment rejected'. Ah, I'm glad that's clear then. Payment rejected. Quote reference 'Payment rejected'.

Eventually it emerged that the reason for the rejected payment was the amount I was trying to pay differed from the amount showing on the bank's computer. Last month's bill has not been updated.

"It's not our fault! [it never is, is it?] You have to talk to SEWA. And no, we at 'Red Triangles' are incapable of parking your instruction until the new amount gets uploaded, or paying SEWA the amount you have instructed anyway."

Telephoning SEWA proved difficult when I learned that their website was down. They don't seem to be listed in the UAE telephone directory. The main phone number listed on the bill was answered, but it was the wrong section. "You need to ring Consumer Section on this number."

"This number" turned out not to be Consumer Section. "Ring the main number." Now there was no reply at all. I was instead treated to 20 rings. "Three rings for the elven kings under the sky, seven for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone, nine for mortal men doomed to die and one for the dark lord on his dark throne in the land of SEWA where employees lie" before the line cut off.

Eventually I used a different phone number from the comprehensive selection of regional offices and got through to the computer section, where the kind man told me that SEWA had on 2 August informed the banks how much their customers owed.

Telephone the bank: "But SEWA hasn't told us to expect a payment. Don't blame us."

"Yes they have. On 2nd August, actually."

"Ah. [curses, foiled again] Well try in two days."

Yes, I'm told takes 'Red Triangles' an entire week to upload this information.

SEWA reads my meters on 7 July.
SEWA raises a bill in July.
SEWA advises the bank of the current balance on 2 August.
SEWA delivers my bill on 6 August.
Bank may upload the bill information on 9 August.

Meanwhile, the blurb on the back of the bill states that "Bill amount must be paid within 7 days, any delay will render the customer liable to disconnection without prior notice."[sic.] Am I really to believe that threat? And if so, what can possibly justify punishing me when something as simple as paying a bill is made impossible by the very people who deal with this sort of thing for a living?

Maybe I should go back to keeping my money under my California King mattress and paying for everything by visiting personally and handing over cash.


Taunted said...

But if they think you haven't paid, they cut you off.

Penises, the lot of em

Grumpy Goat said...

At last, success! The money went.


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