I’ve written a number of times in the past, I am sure and certainly on my PhilFAQS blog about the abysmal mail service here in the Philippines. Even though we Americans sometimes almost make a comedy career out of complaining about and dissing our dedicated US Postal Service workers (anybody remember Men in Black II?), your attitude will almost certainly change if you make the move to the Philippines. There is a postal service here … (The Philippine Postal Corporation) they go by the name PhilPost and for a few things they seem to do quite well. But if you live in the provinces, as I do (even though only a few kilometers from the Metro Manila border) mail service is a luxury you are liable to miss a lot.
Not long ago, our bank, BDO, sent us an unsolicited credit card for my wife and an add on card for me. Unlike the US, there’s essentially no recession and no credit crunch here, (so far). I never applied for a credit card in the Philippines and I essentially didn’t want one, because the consumer protection laws here are totally different than in the US … in the US you essentially can’t be defrauded out of anything with a credit card, here, if you, for example lost your card, and someone used it? You shoulder the whole amount.
But anyway, the bank sent, so we “bit” and decided to keep the cards. We activated them and used each one just to be sure the system worked. Then, it occurred to me after some period of time had passed, that we had never gotten a bill. After a long series of phone calls … all at our expense … we finally got a dismissive response from a BDO supervisor, “Oh we don’t send bills out to the provinces, you will have to call every month to find your balance, it’s your responsibility to find out what you owe.”
You can pay at the bank, if you already know your balance, because the banking system and the credit card system are not able to talk to each other, or you can allegedly check your balance via your online BDO bank account (in 6 months I haven’t been able to get the credit card registered so it shows up in my on line account), or you can pay “in the blind” at some bill pay centers … but a real live credit card bill, online or off line … “not in the provinces, sir.”
Our account is dues on the 27th of each month, so on the 26th of April I called, ascertained the balance, went to the local branch of the bank, filled up the required forms and paid the balance due from our bank account. I don’t have a checking account here, that would be another whole blog post in itself, but with enough prompting and a multi-part form or two, the lovely ladies at the service counter will tickle their keyboard for you and transfer the funds electronically.
When I got home from the bank, I saw something white sticking in our “people” gate as I was opening the driveway gate. We don’t have a mailbox at the gate because I have only seen a mailman four times now in nearly three years … few other people on our street have a mailbox either. What was the white paper?
A real live credit card bill fr0m BDO, complete with something I have never seen yet since I moved to the Philippines … a bright red 4 peso officially approved PhilPost postage meter stamp on the corner of the envelope.
It appears that while I was away at the bank, a real live letter carrier came by and put a real live official piece of legal PhilPost delivered business mail in my gate.
I’m going to the mall right after I post this, perhaps I should buy a mail box to try to entice the letter carrier back next month? Maybe if I make it like the one in the picture people will stop and take pictures of it?
I dunno, but I know this, if the letter carrier shows up again on 26 May, two months in a row, I’m going to run, not walk to the Lotto ticket counter at the corner store and buy a handful of lucky tickets.
Many of those things we take for granted in the US are a real blessing. When I see US news shows here in the Philippines i sometimes get a little depressed because the talking bobble heads on camera make it sound as if the whole country has fallen apart. If you’re one of those folks back home who have heard so much gloom and doom you are feeling bad yourself, shake it off and smile a little bit. There are a lot of things to be thankful for in the US, one of them even is getting your bills delivered *smile*.