ASK PETE – YOUR FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS SOLVED!

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Diligently solving the first world problems of the inhabitants of the inner-west.

Pete last week I was alerted to a water scam that will make the Murray Darling Basin look like a dripping tap. So I got my water bill which was broken down into three parts; usage, then network and maintenance, and sewage / drainage. The last two I get, we have to pay for the infrastructure of the system and its administration, but then I did a double take on usage which was measured in mega-litres. So if I am not mistaken we are talking about water yeah? But hang on, where is water coming from, it’s rain, we are basically paying for rain! Why? It’s not like milk or petrol, the water company gets rain for free and are then charging us for it! Royal Commission now!

Mick, Footscray (via email)

Ah Mick, and not only are you paying for free rainwater, but if you think about the sewerage and drainage factor (well, not too hard), you are actually giving it back to them! So really, at the end of the day, you are being charged to rent rainwater. But part of those infrastructure costs enable them to test the concentrations of illicit substances in the water, and estimate how many people are using them and in what quantities. So Mick, my advice is to maybe lay off those substances for a while my friend…

Pete you will love this one. The other day I caught some guy in hi-viz fumbling around behind my bins. When I challenged him he claimed to be from the “gas company” and was “looking for the meter”. I (not particularly politely) explained that we do not have gas at our place, which is true, there literally is no gas line from the street to our house. Well this guy didn’t believe me and kept rummaging around the front, before finally giving up and wandering off mumbling to himself. I just thought “yeah whatever” until about 3 weeks later when I got a “customer welcome letter” from some gas retailer, along with my first bill. How can these companies be so stupid?

Gerald, Williamstown (via email)

Ha, you call that stupid? That’s smart my friend, page one of the corporate bastardry playbook: “if you can’t convert customers, just create them out of thin air!”, and it worked! Let’s think this through, your gas usage is going to be, well let’s face negligible, so with the service fee, you’re probably looking at $40 a quarter. Now it’s going to take you several hours on the phone, probably half a dozen calls to even get through to the right person. Your case will be “escalated” to a junior manager, who will sit on it for months. How many people would just pay it without questioning? And if they do this 1,000 times a year, then all I can say is “cha-ching” – happy shareholders!  

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