So My Electricity Was Turned Off Today
  • 18 Comments
by Mike on October 11, 2006

I don’t deal well with physical mail. My entire system for organizing my life is set around my computer. And while I know all about electronic bills, I’ve never taken the time to set it up. So when a bill comes in the mail, I put it on a certain part of my desk and once a month or so I pay them online.

But lately things have been really busy and I set up a new system to cut down on bill paying time. Credit card bills get paid right away when they come in, but I let everything else wait and batch pay it every six weeks or so. That was a good system but it turns out that I hadn’t actually paid any bills since July and frankly hadn’t given it much thought. The stack of bills was there on my desk but I just didn’t see it.

Until today when a guy came by in an electric car and turned off my electricity.

Gabe Rivera noticed it since I was still sleeping and he made the decision to wake me up as it was “a situation you might want to deal with.”

I found the phone number for PG&E but the vonage line was out because it needs electricity. I have an SBC phone line that I use only for Gillmor Gang podcasts and tried that…only to find out that it had been turned off, too. That’s when Gabe found the electricity box and noticed the “off” switch. The PG&E guy had turned it to off and put a very flimsy lock on the switch. So flimsy that turning the switch to “on” simply broke the lock. Problem solved. Electricity back on.

I called PG&E. They went through this long description of how to get electricity turned back on which involved driving a check to a PG&E office, getting an order number, and calling PG&E back with the order number. If I did all that by 3 pm they’d send a guy out to turn the electricity back on.

Then I told the guy that we had just turned it back on ourselves, and that I sent $1,000 to PG&E via online banking (it turns out I owed them about $500). He said “oh, okay, well don’t worry about it then. It’s all fine as long as the money comes in.”

So bottom line, if you are an idiot like me and forget to pay your electricity bills and they turn it off, just turn it back on. :-)

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  • Funny story. Even super humans end up regular humans in the system ;) .. maybe you need a Lloyd.

  • For someone like me, who’s been in a very similar situation, this story truly is quite inspirational ;) . I do pay my bills on time now, though.

  • I actually laughed when I read this. Its so nice to know that I’m not the only one that doesn’t deal well with paper mail!

    A few weeks ago my wife was pulled over for an expired registration. Yep, you guessed it, it was in the “special place” on my desk – once. A couple of desk cleanings and the renewel was in a pile of magazines NEXT to the desk. We found the renewel and made things right, but she now opens EVERY piece of paper mail that comes in, no matter who its addressed to.

    Thanks for the great story.

  • Sounds all too familiar – my problem is similar, I tend to batch pay bills – but more critically I have literally had 7 different, valid mailing addresses in the past year – between forwardings via the Post Office and remembering (or not) to change addresses only now, about 3 months after I moved for the second time in a year am I relatively confident that I am getting everything – though just the other day I found a quarterly magazine that had slipped through and wasn’t being forwarded.

    It is a challenge – especially for single professionals (without assistants), between travels and the various ventures we’re working on, life’s little details can often slip. (My personal worst offender at the moment is Cingular who don’t allow you to call THEM to pay them when they cancel your service – you’d think they would make that really, really painless – I found this out when, due to my challenging a nearly $500 data bill they tried to bill me, they thought I owed them money, I had to talk with them on the rain from a payphone to get it resolved)

    Shannon

  • I wonder why you don’t pay automaticly by withdrawal every month? So you don’t need to take care of all your bills. The only problem – you need to keep an eye on what has subtracted from your account. Anyway – great story – in germany we don’t have such buttons :(

  • I like the fact that the electricity guy drives an electric car.

  • Sorry Mike – Power companies don’t turn off electricity for missing a bill. In fact, it usually takes several bills. As someone who has been down this road, it sounds to me like you just need to find another method to stay on top of your bills. ;-)

    Aaron

  • http://www.paytrust.com – they receive all of my bills (even paper ones), scan them, and pay them by rule if they are under amounts that I set. At the end of the year they ship me a CD with all of the PDFs and records.

    The interface sucks but the service works well. They were purchased by Intuit a while back so they’ll be around.

  • Aaron, it looks like he hadn’t paid bills since July…that’s probably enough time to warrant it getting shut off.

  • Aaron, if you read the post, he says he hasn’t paid bills since July. I assume that’s several bills.

  • lol, you lucky you dont live in Cape Town South Africa where I reside. The electricity goes off due to power station failure, regardless of whether you pay yor bills or not…… Ok, well we went thru a phase of power failures and seems to be all fixed now even after they shipped in a new reactor. Still I understand your frustration, being without power makes one quickly realize how dependant we are on it.

    :-)

  • It sounds like you need to hire a personal assistant Mike.

    Pay your bills, walk the dog, have the house cleaned, entertain your girlfriend when you’re out of town. The basics.

  • I had this happen with my phone … I had set up electronic billing, only for some reason it never went through. I’m a bit more diligent now about checking to make sure that they are actually taking money out of the account.

  • Here’s another vote for http://www.paytrust.com . I’ve been using their service for more than a few years now and recommend it to everyone. It’s cheaper than hiring a personal assistant to take care of those things for you. Just setup some very flexible payment rules and you’re done. Invaluable service.

  • TheSingleMailHandlingMan - October 14th, 2006 at 11:50 am UTC

    Well, sounds like we got a new job for the nerds: Get by and collect the mail of single professionals. For extra credit they get opened and answered;)

  • I swear by Paytrust! I’ve been using them for eight years. I couldn’t live without it.

  • this blog is awesome!

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