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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Paying Bills in Italy

Some time ago my friend told me that he received a bill from a public utility that was 500 Euros more than it should have been. He called the call center of that certain utility to complain. The person at the call center looked at his bill and agreed with him. She apologized for overcharging him 500. Then she told him to pay the bill.

The ENTIRE bill.

And she warned him not to pay late because there are late fees too. She told him that his account would be credited the 500 Euros.

My friend asked her if the amount could simply be taken off the bill, after all, 500 Euros is a lot of money. Not all people have an extra 500 Euros lying around to pay a bill. The call center representative said 'No, this is our policy. YOU pay. We reimborse you by crediting your account.'

What she did NOT say was that this public utility was going to put his 500 Euros in the bank and get the interest off it. The interest for 500 Euros for 7 months or however long it takes to spend 500 on one of their bills is probably less then pennies, but if you consider they probably use this tactic with a lot of their other customers it adds up.