Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to Pay Bills in Macedonia

Since Erin is gone for the next few months I am paying the bills.
Now you are supposed to pay by going to the post office or the bank. I choose to go to the post office because it is in mall just almost across the street from me (like a minute walk). I walk into the post office, after waiting for it to re-open from an unexpected closure, and wait in line for a bit. When it is my turn (after secretly observing those in front of me) I just put the pile of bills on the counter and moved them towards the PostMan. He then took them and started doing stuff on his computer in furious typing mode. He then feeds the bills through a printer and then stamps them, tears off the smaller bottom part (which is kind of like the part on a US bill that you would include in your payment that would go by mail but with only the account number and amount due), folds it and puts it in a box. After that is all done, he tells me the total that I owe, takes my money, makes change and the hands me the regular bills back.

That is how you can pay all of the bills that you get through the mail. However, if a company doesn’t send you a bill or *if the post man steals it because he either (a) really likes the bill or (b) really hates the company* then you have to go into the store. These are the excuses that Erin has been getting  from T-Mobile (our internet bundle provider) for why she hasn’t received a bill. So I go into T-Mobile and begin to try to pay the bill. T-Mobile is such a happening place however, that you have to get a number from the computer and wait. I had about 5 or 6 people in front of me so I sat and waited.

Now, let me paint a small picture. I don’t know how to say to pay (or rather I forgot) I also forgot how to say “to give.” So, I walk up when it is my turn hand him the bill and say “money on account?” Blank stare. “I don’t know how to say in Macedonian…account? Money?” (ßme) Him: “English?” Me: YES! Pay account?

He does some typing, and then walks into the back come out and said “This bill paid.” Me: “I know, need pay next bill.” (He didn’t speak a lot of English, so I was trying to make it simple.) Him: OH! *furious typing* You owe two months.

Then he types some stuff in, and tells me how much I owe (luckily I had enough extra- this was a surprise second month, especially since I was paying for a month I was still in the states- my roommate had apparently forgotten to pay the August bill!). I then pay and he has to print some stuff, more stamping, and then “You good. Bye!”

And that my friends is how you pay bills in Macedonia! You can’t mail anything in, because the mail system is really slow an unreliable. I think it would be too much to ask to have people pay online- this requires updating of websites and actually using the internet for more than just social networking (which doesn’t really occur here).

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