Jan 4, 2010 – Today we went to Nueva Concepcion to pay our internet/cable bill at the bank.
Most people pay bills in El Salvador either at the bank or directly at the utility provider, and in cash. The other payment option is via credit card, as writing a check is not, I repeat not an option to pay bills here. That cuts out probably 80% or more of the population. A quick review of credit card rates is rather interesting: in a recent visit to Scotiabank I saw a list of interest rates for various cards posted at the service window, all ranging from 16% APR at the lowest for a ‘platinum’ card, to 38% in the highest case. Most were between 22-35%. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
While at the bank, a middle-aged woman walking out was sporting a purse that said “Feels Good,” which struck me as comical. So few people here know any English beyond “hello,” I wondered if she knew what it meant. I bet if it said “Just Farted” she’d be happy all the same.
October 7, 2010 – more on paying bills…
The line for paying bills at lunchtime is often 20 or more people long. Some banks have started requiring one have an account with them to pay a bill, and others are only accepting payments until 2 or 3:00pm. I don’t know what arrangements the banks have with utilities, but I imagine they get a cut for all this servicing. No banks are open on Saturday’s, so you must devote one or more lunch hours each month towards paying bills, and cross your fingers the line isn’t so long you get back to work late. You cannot save up your bills and pay them all at once. Here’s why:
Bills arrive at homes hand-carried by utility employees, and often SO late you must run to the bank during lunch quick-speed within 1-3 days. If you miss that mark, you have a couple more days to pay direct at the utility office; any more delays and you’re risking a late fee. And at $6-$10 a day salaries, even 50 cents hurts.
As for the delivery method: how funny is it that utility companies can afford to have bills HAND CARRIED to houses instead of sending them by mail? The joke is on both Salvadorans, the one who makes sh*t for money delivering the bill, and other who gets it at the brink of being “tardy!” We got our water bill from “ANDA” on September 14, 2010 somewhere after 10:00am – it was slipped under our ‘puerton’ (metal garage door/gate). The bill stated it can be paid at banks “till September 16” and at ANDA directly after the 16th. By the way, September 15 is a national holiday so we had exactly one day to pay the bill at a bank, thereafter must go to an ANDA office. I thought of making a remark to someone there, but the bill comes in cheap enough I better shut well shut my mouth or they’ll find a way to jack it up.
Bills don’t often come cheap with ANDA, and people constantly make complaints. One news story had an interesting and happy ending for water charges. Bills for several families in a very poor neighborhood were showing balances of up to 40 and 60 dollars, outrageous in El Salvador. Turns out while they were paying the bills, a very un-bright employee of ANDA was discarding the receipts and pocketing the money, all the while being filmed by cameras that ANDA always had in place while they were working there. A replay of the footage showed everything. Duuuuuuuuh.