And Then There Was One

Opening mail is my least favorite pastime. I would even go so far as to say that I hate it.

by Angela Godwin

Opening mail is my least favorite pastime. I would even go so far as to say that I hate it. I sometimes avoid the mailbox for days — much to the dismay of my mail carrier, who must continually find creative ways to stuff ever more circulars and junk postcards into the inadequately sized (if you ask me) receptacle.

Because of my disdain for snail mail, over the past few years I have made a concerted effort to try to reduce the amount of paper mail I get each day. Anyone who has ever embarked upon this ambitious venture knows that it's nearly impossible. Nearly.

The one strategy I found to be both effective and convenient was online bill pay. About seven years ago, I started transitioning my various accounts from paper bills to online bills — first the credit cards, then the cable and gas, then electric. Before long, I noticed a significant decrease in my daily (okay, okay, weekly) accumulation of correspondence. Plus, I found that paying my bills online was so much more convenient than manually writing out checks to a dozen different providers. What used to take me a couple of hours every month now takes me about twenty minutes.

In fact, I had soon transferred all my accounts — even my car loan and mortgage — to online payment. Wait... Did I say all my accounts? That's not entirely true. There were still two accounts — and only two — that I had to receive and pay by snail mail. Guess which ones?

Drinking water and wastewater.

So, you can imagine the wave of joy that washed over me when I opened my most recent drinking water bill to find a bright yellow notice heralding the news that my water utility "Now Offers Online Payment!" (Cue the trumpets.)

I was so excited that I didn't even wait the two weeks until it was due; I rushed to my computer to set up my account and pay my bill. Early!

As a relatively savvy member of the online generation, I'm quite familiar with a number of online payment systems. Some are definitely more user friendly than others, with an intuitive interface and thoughtful design. As I logged on to the utility's site, I was a little skeptical about what I would find. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the system my water utility chose for its online bill pay was up to par. The initial account set-up was easy and the payment steps were clear and methodical. And as an added bonus, the utility will now bill on a monthly schedule, not a quarterly one as it has in the past.

So now I will have one less piece of mail to open, one less check to write, and the peace of mind knowing that all I'll find in my overstuffed mailbox are coupons and Wal-Mart circulars.

Oh, yeah, and that wastewater bill...

Angela Godwin
Editor, Water Utility Management

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