Gas bill

Another day, another gas bill.

You know, I got divorced almost five years ago, and have moved twice, but to this day my ex-wife’s name is still on the damn gas bill. At one stage they claimed they couldn’t change the name, they could only open a brand new account, which would cost $20. At the time I said don’t bother.

I wonder if they’d do that if she’d died. Maybe I should have told them that. Told them it was causing me trauma every time a gas bill arrived.

Over the years, the continuing joint names on the bill bugged me more and more. I last rang up about it when I moved. They said she would need to ring them up and get it done, which she then did.

So my gas bill arrived yesterday, and her name’s still on it. So I rang again.

“Hi, I want to get my ex-wife’s name removed from the bill.”

“Is she there with you?” Pah, what a stupid question. We get on okay, but we don’t hang out with each other, strangely enough.


“Well she needs to give us a ring…”

“She did that.”

“Oh. I’ll check the account notes.”

“You’re right, she did. I see, the name has been removed from the account, but not from the mailing address.”

How stupid is that?!? Why on earth would I want the name on one but not the other, especially in these circumstances?

And I can understand having to jump hoops to add someone to an account, but why to remove them? It’s not like anybody would mind being absolved of paying gas bills.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “Gas bill”

Although for the unlicensed, the non-student and the proof of age cardless, a gas bill with one’s name and address might contribute a vital 10 or 20 ID points to the magic 100 that’s needed to make you a person with full social and economic rights in this country.

So though it’s a nuisance, maybe it’s not altogether bad that you did have to jump through a few hoops to get it done.

I’ve had the same experiences. I’ve been divorced seven years, but had all kinds of bills and letters for my former spouse over the years! fun! What was ‘really’ interesting was getting HIS bank statements sent to me for nearly 2 years, with all his pay details, withdrawal and transactions for everyday use.. I could see his whole life (which was dull mind you)..I told him about it, time and time again and the bank.. It took until he remarried and his new MRS took the problem in hand. Ha!

As someone who works with the kind of computers that add and remove people from accounts, I’m guessing that the non-removal of the ex-wife’s name wasn’t stupidity, just an oversight. In the system I use, the mailing address details and ‘the people who are on this account’ details are kept on separate pages. Only one of those pages is the main page of the account. The person who was making the adjustment probably removed the name from the main page and forgot to click over to the other page. Then they would have put a note on the notes page – “X rang, removed name from m’ship” – and clicked out of the account, still not remembering that they hadn’t removed it from the second, less obvious page.

If you want to look at this from the other side of the fence, take the approximately sixteen hours I spent over the past weekend struggling with the application forms sent to us by customers.

Some of them put an address but no name.

Some of them put a name but no address.

Some of them put half a name.

Some of them put half an address. (street name and number but no state, suburb or postcode, for example, or a street number and a suburb name but no street name, or the state and postcode but no street. Sometimes when I tried to look up the name of the suburb, I would find four different versions of it scattered across different states. In one case, a single postcode turned out to be shared between twenty-nine different suburbs.)

One of them ( and I like him, whoever he is, because this cracked me up) put down “City, Victoria” as his entire address.

Some of them wrote in tiny, illegible cursive script, despite the sentence at the top of the the that asks for “BLOCK LETTERS.”

Some of them wrote in the margins, or put their date of birth in the ‘phone number’ field, or their address in the ‘Name’ field, or wrote in huge letters that didn’t fit anywhere. Yes, that was very bohemian of you professor, and I’m sure your refusal to conform to societal norms gives you a great deal of satisfaction. You’re not the one who sits here at six o’ clock on a Saturday evening dealing with it. The coloured ink probably didn’t cost you much either.

We search the internet trying to flesh out the rest of the details on these forms. When that doesn’t work we try calling the person, if they’ve left us a phone number. We get sworn at. We get abused. We get people who swear blind that they never filled in a form. I had one fun phonee on Saturday who, I think, didn’t understand English. She shouted, “No no no,” down the phone at me and hung up.

Umbagollah, it is interesting to hear it from the other side of the fence and I have rarely but have made mistakes on forms, but it just astonishes me as to how these things go wrong so often. It must be something that is done hundreds of times a day around the country, but it always seems like you are re-inventing the wheel.

Comments are closed.