More on The Bureaucratic World of Israel: The Water Bill

Did you ever have a bill that you knew was out there but you never received? That happened with my water bill.

After renting my apartment for three months and never seeing a water bill, I became suspicious. I was worried the bill was lost somewhere and I was going to have to pay exorbitant amounts of money in fines and charges.

When I approached the information desk at the Jerusalem city hall two weeks ago, I was told I had to go to the company on other side of the city. I sighed and went to speak to someone about my electric bill on the other side of the hall.

As I was inquiring about my electric bill 30 feet away, I asked about the water bill and was told I only had to go to the desk on the other side of the hall where i originally was.

Did she say ‘other side of the hall?’

That doesn’t sound like ‘other side of the city!”

On my trip back to the other side of the hall, I told the information man he was wrong and he shrugged his shoulders and said they must have moved.

Three minutes later I was sitting in front of a woman under a small picture of a faucet with water dripping out of it explaining my water bill never arrived and that I wanted to change the name on the bill to my own.

She began searching in the main computer for my address but couldn’t find me, my apartment, or any of the previous tenants.

When she finally did locate the meter and it’s tally on water, I heard her say, “Wow…”

Sitting up I looked at her and said, “Why wow? What happened?”

“You owe 5300.67 sheqels for the water,” she said continuing, “But, it’s not your fault and the bill goes back more than a year.”

Then, raising up the change of name form that sat under her arm for the previous twenty five minutes, she looked me in the eye and said:

“Do yourself a favor: Don’t put your name on this bill.”

She then ripped up the form and sent me home.

I was afraid to call Ruth the landlord but not because she would get angry -I was afraid she would have a heart attack.

I decided to call Batia the agent who helped me find the apartment. She had been very helpful in the past, is friendly with Ruth and I figured she would be the one to handle the situation.

In the end, Batia and Ruth went to the city hall together and straightened out the water bill.

Ruth called me that afternoon laughing and calling me hamudee (sweetie) and told me they took care of everything. Apparently I only owed 13 shequels (about two and a half dollars).

She paid it and as we say in Boston, I was all set.


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