Coded green.

Monday 15 January 2007

Cats, from anime Tonagura

Pic of the day: But why do they come all at once?

Bills again

The 15th of each month is the traditional bill paying day here at the House of Chaos. Like most state employees (possibly all, I'm not sure) I get my pay on the 12th. Actually it arrives on the account a couple days before, but we are not supposed to use it. I don't. I suspect that if I do, and overdraw the balance that was supposed to be on my account, some huge fee will be slapped on me, and that this is the purpose of the arrangement. I don't expect people to be evil, just stupid, but suspecting corporations is another matter. I feel free to do that.

I think I am not suspicious out of pure paranoia either. During my already long adult life, I have often enough had fees slapped on by eager banks and other money-movers, and the fees are always utterly out of proportion to the few cents it costs them to print a line or two on my next invoice or account statement. Now that these things are sent as e-mail, the cost is probably in the thousandth of a cent, if that. I understand that in America such fees are far higher, and more random and unjust than here. Or so my LiveJournal friends seem to report.

One company that I am particularly wary of is Telenor, the former telecoms monopoly of Norway, now turning into mostly an international mobile phone company. They still have a de facto monopoly on the copper cables that connect all land lines in Norway, and use it to their best advantage to finance their adventures elsewhere. I have very little to do with them now, although as long as I have DSL they cannot be completely avoided. But my DSL provider is NextGenTel now, the only such company with a worse track record in customer service than Telenor. Luckily the local utility company, LOS, is a mediator between NGT and the local customers, and they have a decent service. At least they have had when I have needed them.

Anyway, Telenor has the habit of sending out invoices with the shortest due date legal, and somehow they always take some time to arrive. The state-owned Postal Service in Norway is notoriously slow, and Telenor may simply be counting on this. Or perhaps they let the invoices languish a couple days after the get off the printer, it's hard to say. But there will generally be very short notice to pay the bills. I assume the purpose of this is to slap on a big late fee if people fail to pay in time. It is not like they would lose money in any other way by sending the invoices two weeks earlier. They know exactly how much you've called for as soon as you put the receiver down. And for us who only rent a copper line from them, it is even easier to predict.

DNB, the Norwegian Bank, has given up on getting me to borrow more on the account that is to be paid down next month. For months in a row they sent me a letter, each month telling me how to transfer money from my loan account to my spending account. But because of their near-usury interest rates, I have ignored the plea. I only borrowed over 1 year from them because I was cornered by the events of the botched move last year. I look forward to getting out of their shadow. The same goes for the other unsecured loan, from GE Money Bank. On the bright side, I have been able to live a perfectly normal life during all this time, despite the payments. I've even bought a couple computers during this year. Not the top models that Real Gamers have, but then again I would not have bought those anyway.

The utility bill was quite fat this month. On the bright side, I could watch by the specification how the price of electricity kept tumbling week after week as the rain poured down. Norway uses mostly hydroelectric power we're a very mountainous nation after all and the artificial lakes behind our dams have been almost dry for quite a while, until the prolonged rain these last couple months. Something good came of it, then. Probably a meager comfort for the farmer living across the river from here, as the lake that used to be his fields has been permanent since late last fall sometime. Perhaps he should switch to breeding geese...

I wonder if sending out the utility bill in January is also another attempt to squeeze the customer. What exactly is wrong with paying these things before the holiday season? Afterwards most people are broke. It doesn't make a big difference to me since I don't keep the holidays, but you can probably understand if I am suspicious. Even with no extra bills, January would be sort of an anticlimax for most people, having spend their last coppers during the holidays. Oh well, there are always the credit cards, for those who haven't yet maxed them all... (And no, I haven't.)

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: 21 years?!
Two years ago: Fast forward
Three years ago: Words of wisdom
Four years ago: Urge to meddle
Five years ago: NeverQuest, continued
Six years ago: Ooops!
Seven years ago: I, robot
Eight years ago: Reincarnation doesn't matter

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

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