Friday, September 21, 2007

The check’s not in the mail

Recently we paid our first phone bill and electricity bill here in Costa Rica. I mention this because the system for receiving and paying bills here is very different from that in the United States.

For starters, these bills don’t come in the mail—mainly because there really isn’t a regular local mail service to peoples’ homes. Our electric bill was handed to me one afternoon by the guard at the gate to my community when I was returning to my house. It had an itty-bitty piece of paper with “24” (our house number) stapled to the corner. And that’s how we got our electric bill.

The cell phone bill is another story. Here a person dials 187 to find out what the charges are. The phone company will also send a text message to remind you to pay the bill.

There’s no dropping a check in the mail to pay the bills here. In addition to the aforementioned lack of local mail pickup and delivery, Costa Ricans rarely pay anything by check. (Dan and I have yet to see anyone write a check anywhere but at the girls’ school.)

Instead bills are paid at the bank, a pharmacy, or a grocery store. The other day we bought our groceries at a nearby Auto Mercado and paid our bills—cash only, por favor—while we were there.

We received our receipts marked Cancelado and promptly filed them away (OK, stashed them in a kitchen drawer until we get our sea shipment with our desks and filing system).

I’ve heard that some bills can be paid online—which we would like to establish at some point soon if possible—or that major bills such as a mortgage can be deducted automatically each month. Until then, I kind of like being able to just pay the bills when I’m buying my milk, bread, eggs, and pineapples.

1 comment:

Tom Wilmans said...

Wow....I have enough trouble paying bills sitting down and writing checks I would be a mess in Costa Rica. Enjoying the blog keep it up.

Tom