Punishing the frugal among us…

October 27, 2008

I paid our water bill today. It was due last October 15th.  Because of some new policies created by the Water Company, it gave them the right to charge penalties even when it is on the side of insanity.

Their new policy states that a day after the deadline, residents will be charged P25.00. After 5 days, it will be P50.00 and after many days, the water connection will be cut.

The reconnection fee is P400. Reconnection is just about putting the connecting pipes together.  Meralco charges a P20 reconnection fee, yet our village water supplier is charging P400.

So I paid this afternoon.  I knew I was late but I did not really know about the penalties.  I was told that it hd been in effect since May.

I said “really?”

“yes sir, we sent out an advisory” – the female clerk replied.

“Did the association approve this?” I asked.  Last May, I asked if this was already approved by the Homeowner’s association, and I was told… this is being proposed…”

“Sir, this is an internal arrangement.  We dont need to consult the Association anymore..( that is a very subtle English translation because what she actually said was “Sir, wala kaming pakialam sa Asosasyon… internal po ito…”

“Ok. I did not like the part about “wala po kaming pakiaalam sa Assosasyon…” it was very hearing this from an employee who is being paid by the company that is supposed to be of service to the community.

“May I see the agreement between this water supplier and some company she mentioned…”

She could not produce it to justify to me, at least for information sake, the coverage of that agreement.

Because of this new policy, I ended up paying more than 100% of my water bill. Yes, more than 100%.

With all the campaigns about saving water, helping conserve the water and help the environment, my wife and I were conscientious about our water usage.  And I guess, because we were late in our payment, we are now going to pay more than 100% on top of our actual bill.

“Sir, that is in effect so that the homeowners are “trained” to pay their bills on time…” she added to my growing sense of bewilderment.

“I have never seen this before”. I said, ever conscious of not raising my voice because after all, she was not the one who thought about these policies. She was just receiving the penalties, err payments…

“Do you think it to be right that I will pay more than 100% on top of my bill – just because I was a couple of days late?” “more than 100%?  Not even Meralco does that.  Not even credit card companies.  Do you think it is fair? Do you even think it is legal?”

She was quiet.

I got my receipt.  This policy was not about “training” homeowners to pay on time.  They did not even send a we-missed-your-payment-letter… I told her it was not about training. Their policy is very punitive.

My actual water bill is P45.00

I paid P120.

Now you may be thinking, it is JUST P120.  But focus on the percentage. I paid more than 100% on top of my actual bill. The same penalty applies for those who have P1,000 for their bill…. and that would mean they will pay P1,075.  Only P75 penalty added (if that was my bill) and that is only less than 10%.

My bill was P45 only – and I paid more than 100% because of that new policy. They are punitive toward the frugal ones.  The Homeowners association has also implemented a “penalty” for the late payments, but it is based on the actual size of your lot. The bigger the lot, the higher the penalty for late payments. That made sense.

When she said “wala po kaming pakialam sa Association…” it was a very small picture of what is happening even on the national level.  Of retired police generals going abroad for a training with more than 100,000 Euros!  Or an undersecretary of the government who escapes to the US when the Phil Senate was investigating the disappearance of P7.28M fertilizer fund.  He is being deported and the Senate president was very slow in issuing his arrest ( only after other senators voiced their anger and frustration at this indecision to do so…)

Wala po kaming pakialam… even the inclusion of the word “po” denoting respect, is rendered null and void by the whole intent of the message.

In national politics, congress, government agencies, even water companies that supply water to their residents can easily fall prey to this attitude.

I pray that someday we will all wake up from this insensitive, non-chalant, let-me see-what I can-get from-them attitude and start thinking of how we can really serve the people around us.

By the way, our water company is:

Waterworks owned and managed by the Empire East Corporation Land Holdings Inc.. Developer of the Laguna Bel-Air Subdivisions in Sta Rosa, Laguna.

The Empire East developed the subdivisions and they also provide the water for the residents.

And it was just disheartening to be told “wala po kaming pakialam sa Association…”

I rest my case.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: