Taking us for a ride | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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# Taking us for a ride

## Too busy to check if you’re being billed right? Welcome to the forever-stressed club.

health and fitness Updated: May 01, 2011 01:30 IST

It sat pretty in my inbox, among a whole lot of mails you sent me in response to the column about my car catching fire. While some were super informative and enlightened me about my rights as a consumer, a few others were simply heart-tugging as you shared your personal experiences and woes.

So at first glance, Vanshita’s mail, which seemed about an unrelated topic, didn’t quite register. Last week as I sat replying to each one, I re-read what she’d written and realised how she’d woken me upto a stress I’ve forever lived with, as a consumer. You know, that nagging feeling that service providers are overcharging you but you can’t really do anything about it for sheer lack of time.

Let me share excerpts of what she wrote in reference to the monthly electricity bill, and you’ll know what I’m saying. "According to the unit system rule, if a household’s electricity unit consumption is 200 units or less, it is charged at Rs 2.45 per unit, if it is between 200-400, the charge is Rs 3.95 per unit and above 400 units, it is Rs 4.65 per unit. So if my household consumption is 180 units, I
 Sonal Kalra
should ideally be billed at the rate of Rs 2.45. However, the billing cycle fixed by the company is every two months. So even if we break our back restricting our consumption to 180 units a month, the total reading of 360 units for two months leads the company to bill me at the higher rate of Rs 3.95, for 160 units. For no fault of mine! How stressful is that?"

Hmm. Now, this is no consumer rights column and my mathematics is as good as Mayawati’s English, but even I got Vanshita’s logic. And whether her calculation is correct or not, I realised one thing — that I neither knew nor ever bothered to check the break-up of how I’m billed for routine services. On an impulse, I picked up my phone bill, which till now used to get exactly 3 seconds of attention, and tried making sense of it. There was a Rs 30 charge on account of ‘value-added’ services while I had no clue what value was being added to the communication in my life. So I decided to call up customer service.