Municipal bill blues

Municipal bill blues

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We’re having such fun with our municipal bill. Not as bad as some who get a R290 000 bill for their monthly electricity but frustrating none the less.

After 18 years of living at the same address and always paying our rates and utility bill on time the municipality unilaterally decided to change our address for a lark. So now we officially live in the house in front of our pan handle. Which probably means that the house in front now has our address. So if they forget to pay their monthly bill we are the ones who get cut off.

This happened a few months ago one Monday morning just as the washing machine had been turned on. A note on the front gate said that we had been cut off for non payment of our account. So I phoned the inappropriately named Joburg Connect, listened to a lot of music and apologies for the delay because they were experiencing lots of calls and eventually got through to a human. I explained the problem that we had the wrong address on our municipal bill and that it wasn’t our fault but theirs. Could they please call the account up on the computer, change the address to the correct one and reconnect our electricity because we are fully paid up. Of course they couldn’t. You can’t just go onto a computer and change an address based on the owner of a house phoning. This is the new South Africa. You have to go in with three months of your municipal bills, your ID book, a urine sample, the name of your maternal great grandparents and queue for eight hours only to be told you’re in the wrong office.

Anyway, the human at the other end said we would be re-connected by eleven and of course we weren’t. So I phoned back and quoted the reference number only to be told that there was no such number. These days, if you ask who you’re speaking to at Joburg Connect they make up a name and if you ask for a reference number they make that up too. This is to ensure you spend the maximum amount of time tearing your hair out while trying to get a reasonable response. Eventually I phoned the people who had cut me off, explained the situation and they reconnected me within an hour and without a bribe. Then a very helpful young man in the DA managed to get the account address corrected before Christmas and we were ecstatic. The municipal bill finally reflected the correct address and they even managed to spell our names.

However, this joy was short lived because they have apparently moved to a newer, more efficient billing system and now our bill has the wrong address, the wrong erf number, the wrong size of property and (quite probably) purely imaginary meter readings. So it’s back to begging the nice young man at the DA for help. Of course, we could always sell the house and move to Cape Town where everything seems to work perfectly. But that would mean having to sell the house in front because, according to the municipality, we don’t own the house we’ve lived in for 19 years. And who has time to argue with the municipality?

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