Remember the Franz Kafka Utility Company? Also known as East Bay MUD (appropriately enough, since their name is definitely mud, at least in my house). You know, the company that charges you 90% fees, 10% actual water consumption? What possible motivation does a person have, other than her own conscience, for lowering her water usage? I got a whopping credit of $1.26 for low water usage this time, and $9 was my actual water usage. The other $90? Fees and service charges.

Well, they’re in bad company. A couple of months ago, I got an email from PG&E telling me that I saved 20% on my gas and electric over the winter (miserliness has its privileges), so I’d receive a 20% discount on my bill. I didn’t see the discount on my next bill, so I called and asked about it. Oh, they said, it can take a month or two to show up on your bill. Check next month.

So I checked this month, and it still wasn’t there. I called again, and this time, I was told that the credit had been applied to the March bill. I asked why I had received an email in June saying I’d get a credit. Exasperated, the phone peon said I had received the credit in March, but was notified of it in June.

Here’s a hint: tell people when it happens. And instead of saying “You’re going to receive a credit”, say “You HAVE received a credit”, and state the amount.

Also: maybe give all the phone peons the same story? Just a suggestion.

I love it when I pay a bill on line*, and get an email saying, “Your payment request has been received.” Please, please! Take my money, I’m begging you! Don’t reject my check – I’ll be crushed!

The next worst thing is when you pay it on line, and immediately get another bill for the next month. Within minutes. Or possibly seconds. You never get to enjoy the feeling of being paid up. You always have one more bill waiting for you, hanging over your head like a virtual sword of Damocles.

Today, I paid a bill on line, and two hours later got an automated call reminding me to pay the bill I had just paid. They couldn’t even be bothered to harass me in person. That’s even worse than immediately getting another bill.


*If you pay EBMUD on line, they charge you several dollars as a “convenience fee”. Convenient for whom, exactly? See a theme here?