Bill Pay Online in the Philippines – Good Luck with that
Before I left for the Philippines in 2006, there wasn’t a single monthly bill that I didn’t pay using bill pay online (electronic bill payment). I’m not sure when the banks in the United States started supporting it, but I used a specialized service before the banks finally caught on. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was called “Bill Pay” at the billpay.com domain (that domain is now parked). I’ve been in the Philippines for more than nine years and I figure I should be able to do the bill pay thing here as well. After all, the banks in the United States have offered bill pay services for at least 15 years (I’m positive about Phoenix). I guess luck isn’t on my side because the only service I can do that with is Smart Communications and it’s for my most recent monthly bill – the mobile phone service.
The Bill Pay Pipe Dream
It’s not too much of a big deal to not have bill pay services available, but it irks me that they aren’t. I usually let one of my sisters-in-law or the wife of a brother-in-law take care of standing in lines for me. But that shouldn’t be happening. Not in 2015.
Smart Communications is a wholly owned mobile phone and Internet service subsidiary of PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company). I can pay my mobile phone bill with my debit card. You’d figure I could do the same thing with PLDT for my landline and DSL, right? Nope. I can do everything else on their website except use a debit card. I’ve gone through their screens multiple times. Even though their front screen says they accept debit cards, when I get to that part, only ATM cards from certain banks are allowed. When I back out, I get server errors (and I can tell they’re running a Windows server by the errors shown on the screen). Well, at least I can see how much I owe. Which brings up another point and I’ll get to that in a minute.
I don’t have a lot of monthly bills to pay. I have to pay Smart Communications, PLDT, OEDC (Olongapo Electricity Distribution Company), Subic Water and Sewerage Company and Colorview CATV (cable television only). My relative can pay OEDC and Subic Water at the SM City Olongapo mall, but she almost always has to go to the PLDT and Colorview offices to pay those bills because I rarely get a bill from PLDT and I never get a bill from Colorview. Luckily, I always give her more than enough to pay all the bills and she gives me receipts.
OEDC and Subic Water have their meter readers print out and deliver their bills using a handheld printer. I’ve seen exactly one PLDT bill since the DSL was turned back on in December. I’ve never seen a Colorview bill. None of the places that want my money will use the Philippine postal service. I really can’t blame them. Every house on this street, above the second bend in the road, has the same house number. How’s that for it being easy to find my house? (Answer: It isn’t easy at all.)
How can I use any kind of bill pay online if I never get a bill? I have to tell people how to get to my house or they’ll have to stop at houses along the way and ask for me by name. I usually tell people “sa dulo” over the phone, which is a shortcut way of saying “sa dulo ng kalye” in Tagalog. It means “at the end of the street” in English. My house is literally at the end of the street. The city stopped laying cement right in front of my house (at the very right) when the pavement was laid in 2006.