Friday, March 18, 2011

Paying Bills

The monthly task that lightens the paycheck has a different twist here in Taiwan.  In the States, I eventually migrated to having a magical elf somewhere suck the money from my bank account to the electricity, water, internet etc. utility.  And some of these companies, before repeated requests finally moved the entire system electronically, continued sending me return envelopes for a check in case I wanted to use the post to pay my bill.

Krista and I have a bank account in Taiwan but it does not come with checks - everyone uses cash while few places accept a card.  Utility companies do not seem to provide automatic withdrawal services (if they do English applications don't seem to be around).  So what is a person to do each month when a new bill arrives?

From Random Taichung

Yes! We go to any nearby 7-11. Bills come with a bar code and the helpful person at the register scans in the bill, takes the perforated portion, applies an official looking stamp to our copy and hands us a receipt. We can even make other purchases to supplement the experience.  But, if the bill is not paid on time (like a past water bill), 7-11 cannot help a delinquent.  That time, a special trip was made to the water company office.

It seems as if only 7-11, out of the many chains of convenient stores, is privy to this service.  As such, there are stores everywhere and a person can also buy train tickets, concert tickets, complete bank to bank transfers and walk out with a refreshing Slurpee.

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