Archive for the ‘Bills’ Category

Service of Respecting Other People’s Time

Monday, June 11th, 2018


From my first job in PR I got the impression that in addition to the responsibilities I had—to write press releases, speeches, slide show copy, brochures, proposals, activity reports, to plan press conferences, place stories etc.–one of my main responsibilities was to save my clients’ time.

“Obviously,” you say. But it so often doesn’t happen.

Hold Please…A Half Hour ++

Take the other morning when I called GM Financial first thing about a $400+ bill we shouldn’t have received and didn’t owe. I put the phone on speaker and while listening to dreadful music, interrupted by the computer voice telling me to hold on, I finished my breakfast, got dressed, put on my makeup, brushed my teeth and began to read Facebook postings.

How many people with jobs they hope to keep can hang on the phone that long?

License to Steal Your Time


A friend needed to renew her driver’s license and wanted an enhanced version with a chip so she headed down to the Department of Motor Vehicles {DMV} in Manhattan. According to Google, “An enhanced license is a New York State DMV issued document that you can use instead of a passport to return to the US by land or sea from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean.”

As with many women who marry or remarry, the last name on her social security document and license–in her maiden name–didn’t match the one on her passport with her married name. The folks at DMV told her that all must be the same. [I have a standard license and in 2011 was notified I had to rectify the discrepancy between the name on my social security and license and was told it was a Homeland Security issue.]

She went to the social security office, changed the name on the document—they didn’t ask for her marriage license, but remember: Her passport was in her married name. On another day she again headed back downtown to tackle with Motor Vehicles. After waiting in line for 45 minutes with revised social security card and passport in hand–all matching–she was told she needed to show her marriage license! She left the office in tears of frustration–nobody told her on her first visit that she needed to bring the marriage license.

The same question: Who has time to go through such rigmarole?

Do you have similar examples? Are there some better times than others to call customer service centers? Must people take vacation days to get glitches resolved? Is it only people in service industries who are aware of other people’s time? Does this happen because of understaffing; sluggish or angry workers or poor strategy by management?



Service of Paying Your Bills

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Paying bills 1

At the time I thought my mother was obsessive when she’d send money to her credit card company before leaving on an extended trip. She had a good credit line so she didn’t need to worry about using it up. She pre-paid because she wouldn’t be home to mail the bill in on time. I can’t point fingers at the behavior now as it has rubbed off on me.

Seems thousands of Detroit’s water department customers don’t share this practice. Some 17,000 of them ignored their water bills—including giant corporations, the city and state. I heard Sarah Cwiek describe the situation on NPR. Water at most—but not all–of these accounts was shut off at once.

Drinking water 3Exceptions to the shutoff were General Motors that owes $millions and is disputing the bill and Chrysler that paid its debt. The city owed $20 million for its municipal buildings, has paid $4 million with the rest in review and the state owes $5 million. The state says it isn’t responsible for leaky pipes on the fair grounds and therefore doesn’t owe the money.

Darryl Latimer, deputy director and chief customer service officer of the Detroit water and Sewerage Department told Cwiek he couldn’t say why people ignored their water bills.

Drinking water 2The water department took what some describe as this dramatic step in an attempt to restructure a bankrupt and poorly managed service in record time. In spite of receiving shutoff warning notices with past due bills some felt that before initiating a massive shutoff the department owed its customers a major, widely publicized warning and before shutting off the water, someone should have researched which of the accounts served customers with young children and the elderly. Some approached a UN Panel because they felt the shutoff was a human rights violation. The panel declared it would be such a violation only if it affected people truly unable to pay.

Since I heard the program and began to write the post, Hannah Hendler at The Agenda Project wrote the following in a July 24 email: “DETROIT’S WATER WARS — Detroit placed a temporary halt on dangerous water shutoffs following concerted action by the Detroit Water Brigade, People’s Water Board Coalition, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, We the People of Detroit and many more.”

Are you easygoing or rigorous about paying your bills? Are you more diligent about paying some bills than others? Do you believe that Detroit’s water department should have taken a softer approach to get the money due it? Should there have been any exceptions to the shutoff? How do people expect a waterworks to function without the money to run it?

Water faucet

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