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MAPping the Future

Has a CEO ever paid a bill online?

I thought I would never complain about this, but there must be a way to use technology for everyone’s good, and not cause everyone’s stress.

Have you gotten your phone bills? Internet? Electricity? Water?

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Lucky for those who have a back room to fix these bills from utilities—maybe your secretary or executive assistant has to do it and deal with “customer service” so you are shielded from the stress of trying to pay for service in this country. Yes, I said pay, not complain. We all want to pay but it is not easy.

Businesses need inte­rnet without interruption, as households need the basics, like water and electricity. Is it not scary to have your utilities disconnected or cut because the system did not get your payment?

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Many of us are working from home. There is no backroom or staff for many of us. So I have had to learn how to open an online account, pay bills and wait for notices in my inbox. I was enjoying the experience of finally ridding myself of check issuance, and avoiding late bills which can also cut your credit card access.

And this is probably why user experience should be para­mount in the websites and online payment systems of all providers.

Have you tried using your own mobile app, executives? Maybe you should try paying yourself using your utility’s app and you will know how we mortals feel. Go through the experience yourself before launching the app or the online payment system.

A utility firm offered installment terms when people’s bills doubled and quadrupled. So you go online but oops! You cannot pay installment online. Instead, you cut a check for 25 percent and go to a payment center. Not a bank. Banks will only process payments in full. Do you see the difficulty we now face? Yes, you can pay in tranches, but take a number and queue up in a payment center for three to four hours. Is this fair?

A cable company offered me fiber connection. So I had two providers in my home. The latter one, connected to my cable TV, is useless. But I have to pay the total bill for fiber and TV lest I lose even my cable connection. Is it fair?

Luckily I have a Twitter account where I send direct messages to the company and they gave me a number. It’s electronic queuing up. It’s been three months without fiber but I religiously pay online every month. Is this fair?

The worst is having a utility service cut or disconnected. But every day, we all are potential victims of bad service and disconnection.

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Technology can really be utilized to speed up payments and improve service. But when the owners or CEOs are not feeling the problems we mortals feel, that service can be just as bad as not having technology at all.

I dare the executives of all utility providers to try their services—from online ban­king to using apps, and maybe, just maybe, their service will be better for all of us.

Out of these frustrations, yet another business may arise. A payment system for all of these bills. I did try PayMaya but I got blocked when I put in my account number for a phone line. Error alert.

But really, what is a consumer’s choice when it comes to utilities? I guess we have none. INQ

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP. The author is a member of the MAP Communications Committee and the MAP Inclusive Growth Committee. She is the President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. and runs a social enterprise called ECHOstore.

Feedback at [email protected] For previous articles, please visit map.org.ph

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