Thursday, December 31, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #101 - It’s time to pay. Or fight.

The shakedown
Rosie brought home a note from gan this week. On a little piece of note paper. It was handwritten in marker. By luck I remembered to ask Becky’s ‘big sister’ mentor to read it. She translated. They want to know: Why haven’t you paid the 600 NIS to the gan for books and projects and stuff?

Later that night I mentioned it to Bob. He already knew about it. The gannenet had seen him pulling in the driveway and called him over to tell him the same thing. Why haven’t you paid?
Why didn’t we get billed from the moetza (city hall) for this, I wondered? Last month they billed me 135 NIS for Rosie’s ‘cultural fee’.

Me: 600 NIS is a significant amount of money to be demanding on a little handwritten note in magic marker.
Bob: There’s no way anyone else is paying this.
Me: Rosie doesn’t even have any books.
Bob: I’ll bet they know we just pay.
Me: Are you suggesting the gan is shaking us down?

We’ll have to see about that…

It’s time to pay. Or fight.
Last night Bob and I tried to make sense of the credit card bill – including six charges from city hall, all of them described in the transaction-type column as “other”. When there’s one ambiguous charge you can maybe figure it out. But six? We gave up and went to bed.

Bob woke up ready for a fight. He gathered up a pile of receipts we’ve been accumulating from city hall. The protocol is once you’ve authorized them to bill you for one thing they just bill you for everything else (as they deem appropriate). Then you get a receipt indicating the amount that was charged to your credit card. Easy enough. Finding out what it is you’ve paid for is less straightforward.

Bezeq – achi tov b’bayit (the best for your house)
As I looked for the credit card bill on my laptop I realized my internet was down. Bob ran some diagnostics and then made the dreaded call to our internet provider, Bezeq. He put the automated menu on speaker. It opens up grandly. Bezeq – achi tov b’bayit!

He wowed me maneuvering through the menu (in Hebrew) and reached a live technician – calling Bezeq is one of Bob’s semi regular pastimes. The tech said to hold while he tested the line . And suddenly the internet was working. The tech insisted he hadn’t done anything but Bob knew he had.

Thank you! It’s working now. Mah aseet? What did you do?
Asiti klum! I didn’t do anything.
Lo, asita mashu! No, You did something!
Asiti klum!
I know you did SOMETHING. Tell me – why does Bezeq do this? They take me off line at night and then when I call in the morning they put me back on.
Bezeq would never do such a thing. We have millions of customers.
It works. I am happy. I am happy you did something.
I did not do anything.
How can you tell me you did nothing? It was not working and now it is working! I know you did something!
Would you like to complain sir?
(shouting) I do not want to complain! I am happy! I am happy you did something!

We looked at each other and laughed as he hung up. Bezeq – achi tov b’bayit.

Bituah leumi
Today was a day of reckoning. All ambiguous mail would be dealt with. Bob called Bituah Leumi. Recall the three letters they sent. But they wanted to speak with me. He asked for an English speaking rep to call me back. They said one would call within 24 hours.

They always say they will call us back. But they never call back!
Someone will call you.
Promise me someone will call my wife within 24 hours.
Well I can’t promise you…

As Bob walked out the door, papers in hand, I ran after him with the shakedown note from gan. I want you to find out about THIS. Do you think city hall knows about the bills that go out in magic marker?

He returned too quickly - city hall was open but no one could help him today. We’ll have to wait until the New Year to find out.

Stranger things have happened
The phone rang a few hours later. The bituah leumi rep did speak English and I even got the part about how they want to give me a 400 shekel gift for having a baby(!!!). But when I asked about the bill they’d sent, she said that is for my husband. If he is unemployed or self-employed he must pay. Then she said I need to go somewhere (??) and provide my bank information.

Tell me – if I give you my bank information will you take money out?
No – we just put money in.
But what about this bill for my husband?
Yes, for your husband we will take money out.

At this point I hand the phone to Bob. They continue in Hebrew.

What do you mean I have to pay?
Every man must pay.
The women don’t pay?
It’s good I have a lot of daughters.
(A shared laugh.)
Are you sure I have to pay?
Everyone pays.
I don’t think everyone pays. I am going to ask all my new olim friends if they pay!
But they are new olim – new olim don’t have to pay for the first year.
A-HA! WE are new olim! We are here only 6 months! So we DON’T have to pay!

We’ll have to see about that…

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, Lisa! Laughing out loud at the office, reading that conversation between your husband and the internet company. Better than anything Seinfeld ever wrote - congratulations.
    ~David Bachrach