(As posted in my Gazette blog)

The second of my great business ideas (see preceding post) .  . .

I called Bell Canada last week to make an adjustment to my plan. While working my way through the automated menu before I could talk to a real, live person, one of the options offered to me was to pay my bill by credit card on the phone. So, when I got to talk with a real, live person, I asked her about it. Yes, she said, I could pay my bill by credit card that way any time.

Now, being a very busy person who often overlooks her phone bill, I jumped at the chance to pay my bill by credit card right then and there. Presto! One less transaction to make at a bank machine. I need never be late with my phone bill again.

Sooo, today I had to pay my Hydro-Quebec bill. I would do it by credit card, I figured. I called their office, worked my way through the automated menu, but alas, no option to pay by credit card. So, I waited patiently to talk to a real, live person, who kindly told me that Hydro-Quebec doesn’t offer its customers the option to pay their bills by credit cards. She wasn’t sure why. Maybe the company believes people shouldn’t use credit to pay their Hydro bill, she surmised. I pointed out to her that one could still use credit to pay the bill at the counter in the bank. She laughed. “Yes,” she agreed, assuring me that I am not the first person to raise the subject with Hydro-Quebec.

I think many customers who get big Hydro bills in the winter do, in fact, have to resort to credit to pay them. And you know how Hydro-Quebec is if you don’t pay on time — they are pretty quick to remind you that your payment is overdue. I’m not knocking them for that. But let’s face it: some of us resent having to pay our hard-earned dollars to a company owned by taxpayers so that we will not freeze to death in the winter. We sort of feel that heat is a bare necessity, and that maybe we should get it for free, considering that we the people actually own the company. (But I digress.)

Even if you don’t need credit to pay your Hydro bills, the convenience of being able to pay by credit card or debit card on the phone seems so contemporary. So while Hydro-Quebec is in the process of installing new smart meters on every dwelling in the province — so that they can, among other things, read your meter from their offices and not have to actually send someone out into the cold to your home — why not give customers the option of paying our bills from the comfort of our warm  homes by using credit and debit cards over the phone — and save us a trip out into the cold to a smelly bank (see preceding post)? I bet fewer people would be late with their payments . . .

And, Hydro-Quebec, do feel free to send me royalties that I can put toward my winter Hydro bills (so that I don’t have to use credit to pay them).