Friday, November 17, 2006

F’ing Utility Bill Taxes

I realize that in order for a country to function it needs to generate money. With no money there would be no way to maintain the vital infrastructure of society; things like; filling in the damn pot holes in the road, enforcing the no drinking in public laws, making sure that you don’t overstay your welcome at the parking meter, and various other critical aspects of everyday life.

I do get fed up with they way that some of this damn money is extracted from my wallet though.

For the longest time my favorite offenders have been the utility companies. Every month I receive the natural gas bill. I defy anyone to explain in plain English how the hell they put this monster together. In my simple mind it should be such a simple process, a calculation along the lines of cost per unit X number of units used. Instead it is a 4 page adventure in creative accounting and taxation. The gas itself is virtually free, what costs is all of the other services, cost to store it, cost to transport it, subsidy to ship it to Florida (where the only natural gas comes from Old El Paso brand refried beans!)

I live in Alberta which has one of the worlds biggest reserve of natural gas, we have so much of it I am surprised that naked flames are permitted here. Yet we get to pay the same price for the product as someone in Tampa. I had a spirited session via E-mail with one of our legislators a while back on this very subject. His response was it was all due to NAFTA. Well that makes no sense, if NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement for you non North Americans) was supposed to level the playing field price wise, how come it costs me a dollar for a lettuce here, and only 10 cents for the same product in California?

The net result of all this ‘level playing field’ crap is I get a $200 bill each month during the 10 months of winter! To add insult to injury, last year the gas company decided to play an April fools joke on us all. In July (when it actually was above zero and no one needed any stinking gas) they sent out a bill that was almost twice the amount that it should have been. Apparently there had been some sort of (again incomprehensible) mistake in the cost per giga joule (whatever the fuck that is) over the winter months, and this was a price adjustment!

This has to be the only industry that can get away with this kind of activity. Could you imagine going to the supermarket, you get to the cashier; she rings in all your purchases, and then tells you…. “oh last February we made a mistake on the price of pork roasts, so we are going to adjust today’s bill”.

Another user of creative accountancy is the telephone company. The bill starts off at a very reasonable $16 for basic service. Now I don’t mind that, $16 for all the local calls you can make is a good deal. Of course this has little to do with the actual amount that you pay each month. Once again we have a 4 page bill, there are more taxes and service charges than you can shake a fist at. There is a 911 tax, a long distance tax, a common carrier tax, a get rich quick tax, and then a tax on all the taxes you already paid!

You end up with a bill of $30. They just nickel and dime you to death. Oh and they make the bill absolutely incomprehensible, you would need to have a PhD in astrophysics to make any sense of it.

hahahaha think I need a beer now.......

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