- 13 . 07 . 05
An interruption of service to the Internet necessitates some explanation.
Bills, Broadband, Efficiency, Japanese Culture
First of all, thanks for all those concerned messages asking where I’d gone. I’ll make sure to send both of you a Christmas card! Anyway, no I’m not dead, communications were just momentarily interrupted… Apologies to those people whose emails I couldn’t immediately answer. I’ve done my best to get through them now.
Paying bills in England is easy, because more often than not you simply do nothing and let the money come out of the bank automatically. Unfortunately, for all its technical expertise and forward-thinking technology, Japan still hasn’t quite moved away from paying a bill at a convenience store, which I think I’ve mentioned before, really isn’t all that convenient. To use the Internet here I pay two bills each month, one for the line and one for the connection. Both of these are to the same company, NTT, but they can’t be merged into a unified bill. A couple of months ago I forgot to pay a bill for ¥1953. Luckily, NTT sent me a helpful reminder in the form of a second bill for an identical amount, just in case I’d lost the first one. I paid this only to receive a few days later yet another bill for ¥1953. I had no use for this second duplicate, having just paid the original, so I threw it away. Ten days ago I found I was cut-off from the Internet.
I called up the company and they informed me the line had been disconnected permanently for non-payment of bills. I explained I had been a few weeks late, but had definitely paid, only to be told that there was ¥1953 outstanding. Of course the third bill, which I had thought was a duplicate, was in fact the next month’s bill. Helpfully, no reminder was sent for this one… In order to get re-connected I had to pay the charge (Could I do that over the phone? Of course not), close the account, and open a new one. This was all fair enough considering it was my fault. I was told to ring NTT Internet to inform them of the new phone number I’d be getting, which I did.
Unfortunately that wasn’t quite the end of the problem. I was told that changing my phone number would mean that the Internet would stop working. When I asked them why, I was told ‘because’. Hmph. I would have to cancel this contract and start a new one. Luckily, that could be done over the phone. In order to cancel my contract though, I would have to return my modem. When I had done that, they would send me a new one, I was told. I asked if their would be any compatability problems with the new modem and the woman said not to worry because this modem would be identical to the one I would be returning. When I asked if she could see the pointlessness of this she laughed in agreement.
Well, the Internet started working again today, and I’m still using my old modem. They haven’t sent me a prepaid return sticker yet, so I guess I’m stuck with it for the time being. I wouldn’t put it past them to send me the new one out first anyway to be honest. The final amusing thing about this whole incident was the bill I received today. Some small charge somewhere along the way hadn’t been paid, so I was instructed to go to the convenience store and pay ¥12 to balance the account. That’s 6p, or about dime. I happily obliged, using the opportunity to get rid of some shrapnel, because I’m not 100% sure that they wouldn’t disconnect me again for failing to pay this…