Don’t you hate those little mystery amounts that get added to the end of bills? No explanation, just a sum seemingly unrelated to anything. Which must be paid immediately, yesterday, or else you’ll be in trouble. So rude and, frankly, bogus. Telkom is partial to them, as are the Water and Lights people and banks loooove them. Even though I do all my banking online, ostensibly to save the bank tellers the trouble of looking at my face, they’ll still have the temerity to take R123,13 off my account at the end of the month for ‘bank charges.’ What am I paying for, here, and where do they even get that 13 cents?
I got one of those yesterday from my dentist which made me super annoyed. Apparently I clench my jaw at night (with bills like that, who can blame me?), and my teeth are taking strain, so I now have to wear a little plastic guard thing in my mouth when I go to bed. As if the other indignities you suffer in your forties aren’t enough. So, I get the impression made, it gets sent off to a lab somewhere and I pay the bill of R1326,36 which includes a R162,27 fee for transporting said miniscule piece of plastic from somewhere in the northern suburbs to my dentist in town (R162,27? Maybe they should think about replacing the Hummer Limo they’re clearly using to make their deliveries for a van. Just a suggestion).
But then yesterday, out of the blue, I get sent this statement for the amount of R721,27. Wth?! So, I call up the dentist’s receptionist and this is how the conversation goes:
Me: Hi there, it’s Susan Hayden (blah blah tells story), and I don’t understand this bill because I’ve already paid for everything.
Glynis: Okay, just hold on a second while I find your details.
Music: Chariots of Fire played on what sounds like a child’s electronic keyboard.
Glynis: Okay, here we are. The amount on your statement is for infection control.
Me: But, I didn’t have infection control. I just picked up my little plastic mouth thing.
Glynis: Oh. Okay, just hold on.
Chariots of Fire – this time for so long I’ve read everyone’s status updates by the time she comes back on the line.
Glynis: Hi Susan, sorry to keep you waiting, but I chatted to the big boss (she really said that) and it’s code HZR-6. You see, we can’t charge
you for that until you’ve picked up your bite plate.
Me: Code what? What does that mean?
Glynis: Well, the code for the lab is HFR-6, and the code for the dentist is HZR- 6.
Glynis: So, I’m very sorry about that. It’s payable immediately.
Me: Oh, okay. But I just… picked up my thing.
Glynis: Ja, I’m sorry.
Me: Oh, okay. Well, bye then
So, fuck getting my hair highlighted this month – that’s gone out the window. But it did lead me to come up with a plan. I’m also going to make up some codes for myself. It’s a very clever system, because clearly people have no idea what to do with codes. I don’t. Next time I send out an invoice for an article, I’m going to include a code at the bottom and an extra fee for something like R554,12. The code will be DPC-5, and what it will stand for (though they’ll never know because it’s secret) is Disco Pants Chair (because I sat on a chair when I wrote the article and drank 5 cups of coffee to keep me awake). Why should they be the only ones who can be mysterious and make you pay for stuff you don’t understand? Fuck them.
And if the accounts department have a query, I’ll just put them on hold and play Sophie’s recorder while I pretend to look for their details and talk to the ‘big boss.’ Then I’ll come back on the phone and cite some codes, along with a few others to make them really confused. I’ll do this each time I get some erroneous bill, and with every invoice I send the codes will get longer and more complicated. Because I also like shopping at Woolworths, and at this rate I’m not even going to be able to afford the Juicy Red. Frankly, I’m feeling like a genius.