• 52°

David Post: Never too late for an identity crisis

I’m a deadbeat.

Got up this morning to take a shower and had no water.

No Internet. No TV. No notice.

Salisbury was mad at me for not paying my bill.

Most of my bills arrive and are paid online. My bank account showed that Salisbury’s bill had been paid about three weeks ago, so off I went to the city offices to figure this out.

Somehow, I managed to pay last month’s bill but not the accumulation for the previous two or three months.

Salisbury is my only bill that is not sent electronically. The bills for my house in DC are sent and paid electronically. But Salisbury, with Fibrant on the cutting edge of technology, only sends paper bills. (As a loyal customer, I want to plug Fibrant. Great product and service. Friendly people you bump into around town. Go find your Time Warner or AT&T service professional at Lee Street Theater. No way.) 

Why does Salisbury spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to mail reams of paper? E-bills cost nothing to send.  For the cost of a few months of stamps, couldn’t Salisbury could program its computers to send ebills. It’s not a new technology. My little company uses QuickBooks. It cost $200 and sends monthly e-bills or can automatically charge a bank account or a credit card.

As I stood there writing a check, needing to take a shower and brush my teeth (maybe that was the problem), I was told that Salisbury can’t send an e-bill or a bill via email. Maybe later.

I also paid the bill (current!) for my office building, nervous that I might miss the paper bill due this week. That bill was in the name of a company I closed four years ago without ever using that building. How that happened is a complete mystery, but Salisbury said it would accept money from anyone.

Naturally, I asked to change the name on the account either to me (the owner of the building) or to my company, the name on the check. Salisbury said that was not enough. It said it needed a tax ID number. I offered both my Social Security number and my company’s number. Salisbury said that was not enough. It wanted to see a deed proving who owned the building, a copy of my company’s incorporation, and a copy of the lease if my company was to pay the bill.  I offered to show ownership and the incorporation online (via Fibrant!).

No, it had to be a real deed, a real corporate charter, and a copy of the lease. I’ve never taken any of that anywhere to pay for water or Internet.

With Fibrant TVs all around me, I wondered if I was on Candid Camera or in Lily Tomlin’s comedy sketch when she says to a customer: “We’re the phone company. We don’t care and we don’t have to.”

I could only smile and remember my cousin who was driving through a traffic jam recently when a driver in front of us began honking angrily at another car. He said, “Once you honk, you’ve already lost.” I don’t honk.

I thanked Salisbury and left, wondering if I should gather all that paperwork or let a dead company remain responsible for the bills.

Salisbury does a lot right. When I moved my company from D.C. to Salisbury 12 years ago, the hurdles to merely occupy a building were almost enough to convince me to locate somewhere else. Today, most Salisbury personnel have a “can do” attitude and try to help.

The cost of sending paper bills is expensive and savable. The cost of a smile and a “let’s-fix-this” attitude is free and buys a lot more.

Now I got to go fix my credit rating. That’s going to be fun.

David Post lives in Salisbury.

Comments

High School

Photo gallery: Carson girls win West Regional, headed to state championship

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls headed to state championship game

Local

Commissioners set date for public hearing on potential solar energy system rule changes

Health

Two of Rep. Sasser’s bills successfully pass through Health Committee

Local

Rep. Warren’s measure to allow removal of public notices from newspapers put on back burner

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs future of previously rejected housing development

Local

Salisbury City Council hears public comments, receives presentation on Main Street reconfiguration

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with felony drug offenses

Nation/World

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

Nation/World

Biden vows enough vaccines by end of May

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures