Bills – the modern day ills

From times immemorial people need things for daily living as well as other services that may be essential or not. In our everyday routine we buy many things of daily or infrequent use as well as utilize services provided by governmental or private sector and the mode of payment for all these may be instant, on a later day, on monthly basis, quarterly or yearly basis. We have come a long way in the mode of transaction or payments, from the medieval barter way, to paying in silver or gold, to paying in cash or credit, and to the modern way of paying online. 

A bill is footed for all things we get or the services that we receive and at the end of the month it will be bills and bills. It is the trend of the times.  The number of bills each head of the household pays is many, can vary from 5 to 20, with an average of 10 per household. Usually at the end of the month we have to pay our food bills which may be to the baker (kandur), milkman, vegetable vendor, the meat wallah. Then the communications bills which includes in some cases the landline bill, in all cases the mobile bills of self and other family members, which has nowadays gone up from a single individual bill/ connection to multiples. The entertainment that one sees is paid as the cable or the dish TV bill. The newspaper vendor dispatches his bill stapled to the last paper of the month. The scary electricity bill has to be paid by a particular date in a particular bank. Thanks to recent changes it can be done online. 

Coming to quarterly bills that we have to pay include the school and college bills of kids. Yearly, we have the insurance bills of the house, shop, vehicles and sometimes the life insurance policies. One bill that irritates the least and is fine with all is the yearly water bill that is meager in amount and the least to bother.

Bills bother all of us, even if we may not seem to but they do give us some anxiety and a reason to worry. Since each of these bills has a particular and almost all the times different dates of the end of the month to be paid on or upto one gets perplexed to remember most. How many will a person remember is anybody’s nightmare and on top of this is the agonizing fact that if one misses the due date of submitting the bill, a surcharge/late fee is levied with the subsequent bill, a subtle amount for ones reminder of an unforeseen error.  The bills stress you; for one has to remember the exact dates of submitting the multiple bills on appropriate day otherwise there is a penalty to be paid. 

Some bills we all pay happily but some do irk and irritate. One bill that irks most of us is the electricity bill for many a reason justified or not. Like in middle east where petrol is subsidized for the people, reason being that it is a local produce, so should have been the electricity been here as the power produced should be far cheaper for the locals. Also the billing is not uniform, for 50% of people give it on the metered supply they consume, some give it on a far less quantum they spend, some at a fixed/concessional rate and some not at all from their pocket. So seeing the high bill that one gets and comparing it with too less what others get gives one a justified head and heartache. Another bill that irritates at times is the mobile bills which at times also are bothersome as people sometimes get amazed and astonished at the monthly levy as they feel they have not utilized what they have been charged. This may be the unknowing calls and net utilization which the service provider very viciously charges if the limit is exceeded.

Why should the bills be paid monthly, they consume your time  and quite a bit of energy and are a mental agony as well, let them be done three or six monthly.  The mode of payment may have changed from the cash to digitized but still millions of people are not internet savvy nor are so educated that they will utilize the digi/net services yet. 

Since most of us have an account in J&K bank a mechanism should be started by the bank to link some service bills to a particular account of an individual so that the bills generated are automatically deducted from that account. Till those measures are initiated the bills will continue to be billed and people will go on to have this ordeal and most of us still have to spend time, money and more to pay a bill.

(Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani is Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Soura.)

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