Another bill shock when my July bill comes through at R80 000 instead of the usual R4 000. After much back-and-forth on email and on the phone with deaf and tone-deaf males I have to go in to Florence Mkhize building in old Smith Street now Anton Lembede Street. A car guard finds me a spot and takes charge of my bakkie.
At last someone who would listen. Reluctantly (“Can’t you just pay?”) but she listened as I told her the tale of when my bill had been inflated by R140 000 a couple years ago and it was their mistake; and how now that it had been bumped up to R80 000 from its usual R4 000 I needed to know where that came from; She showed me. eThekwini municipality had billed me for electricity for my flat but not for my home since June 2011. Then I said I need all penalties and interest reversed as ’twas not my fault; She did so. Then I said I don’t want to pay for anything older than 36 months old – statute of limitations; Hey, she didn’t know about that! But after disappearing for a while she came back to say Agreed! Lovely lady with a wicked sense of humour! Ms Pride Gumbi.
Off we go to sign the agreement. Ms Gumbi sticks her finger on the biometric door opener and hey sesame! “Hey, it knows you!” I said and she cackled out loud. It hadn’t known me when I tried my finger on arrival as there was no-one to open up – it said Unidentified. Try Again. Down the elevator and into the foyer and out into the street; all the way she’s greeting everyone by name and hugely friendly. She’s well-known and well-liked it seems.
Downstairs another fingerprint and out to the ground floor next door and I’m asked/instructed to Sit. Stay while she goes through another fingerprint door. This one doesn’t sesame, so she waddles back to the counters shouting Knock Knock! She greets a lady teller in her usual friendly familiar way and gets told “Just push. Its broken” and in she goes.
Eventually I sign for R71 000 in arrears, payable over 36 months. It’ll add R2025 to the monthly bill. I think of challenging the figures again, it looks a bit high but hey, I’m weary. Let’s just go home. I buy my car guard a Russian roll from a take-away to go with his tip. And I scarf one meself.