The charge for gas usage previously had been handled through the building administrator's account; there was no bill that arrived through the mail. I would just go to the bank and deposit enough pesos into that account. However the building is now under new management, and we have a new gas company. That company sends out a monthly bill. I am only down here every other month more or less. I was concerned that the bill would not get paid regularly, and that I might return to the condo and find that the gas had been turned off. During my last stay, I received the first bill in early February for January's usage. I knew that I was not going to be here during the entire month of March. There would be no one here to pay the next bill. I trekked over to the gas company's offices, and I asked if I could pay extra so that there would be a credit on the bill. The person said that I could do that. So I went to the bank and paid an extra 400 pesos (around $20 U.S.) on the bill... more than enough to cover a couple months.
When I arrived at the condo last Thursday, there was a gas bill. I expected to open it and see that I had a credit. Imagine my frustration when I saw that it was a bill for 75 pesos, and that it was overdue. I immediately checked to see if the gas had been turned off, but fortunately it was still on. So that afternoon I headed back to the gas company, with my bank receipt in hand, prepared to dispute the bill. I explained the situation to the lady at the office. She went to check the account, and said that I had a credit. The bill had probably been prepared before my payment had been recorded. She said that I should ignore the bill, and that on the next bill (which I should receive any time now) I would see the credit.
That was taken care of with no arguments. The one good thing about having to go over to the gas company in person, is that the office is just a block away from my favorite restaurant, "Angelopolitano". So I headed over there and had a delicious lunch.
The water bill comes every other month, but it seems that the timing is such that whenever I arrive here, there is an overdue bill waiting for me. The city does not cut off the water (at least not for a payment that is only a couple weeks late), but there is a whopping late fee of 7 pesos (less than 40 cents). The only inconvenience is that late water bills cannot be paid at the bank. You have to go to a city office to pay it. At first it was no big deal. There was an office that was a pleasant walk from here. But that office was closed after the building was damaged in last September's earthquake. I had to make a long journey on the Metrobus to another office on the other side of the city.
When I arrived at the condo this time there was an overdue bill for 330 pesos ($18 U.S.). However, I realized that there is a city office located within a Walmart that is not far from Alejandro's home. Yesterday, we were going to his house, so I asked if we could stop first at the Walmart. I was able to pay the bill there, although the procedure was a bit odd. For some reason they did not charge me the late fee, and I did not pay there at the office. They printed another bill, and I had to take that to the cashier in the "Suburbia" department store located in the same shopping mall with the Walmart.
So for the time being, my adventures in bill-paying are completed.