The Albanian Electric Company Strikes Back!

I had fair warning that it was coming. Somebody had put a handwritten sign up on the breaker box that apts with back bills would get their power turned off. It was ripped up on the ground by mid afternoon and handwritten after all, so I didn’t think anything of it. A week later, I came home from In-Service Training to a powerless apt.

I have paid my electricity every month since I moved in. The highest bill I have ever had was about $13 but usually they are around$8 or so. Even though we have semi-regular power outages, I feel like it is an extremely reasonable deal on electricity. Evidently, whoever lived here before me didn’t think so because they had almost three years in back bills to the tune of about $800!

Maybe I should have paid a little more attention to the handwritten warning because since October or so I have received one e-mail, one bill, and three phone calls asking me about the remaining balance on my account. Every time someone called me I would explain I pay every month but I only rent the apt and won’t pay any back bills. I never understand their response but I assumed they understood and would take care of the problem. Not true.

So when I got home, I called me counterpart and she told me to call her cousin. I went down to his restaurant and before I could say anything he started laughing and asked about my light situation. I laughed with him and asked “What light situation?” After eating lunch and a couple phone calls we hopped in his truck and drove 5 minutes to the other side of town to pick up an electrician. Turns out the electrician was a friend of mine who had given me a ride back from the lake and a coffee last summer.We hopped back in the truck and drove to my apt so he could turn my lights back on.

I have heard all sorts of stories about collecting electric bill payments. Some people skip months on end and only pay a month at a time when the company catches them. Some people never pay because they have tapped into the system some other way. Others I have heard stop collections with a shotgun.

Regardless, of what stories are true or exaggerated, collecting electricity payments is an issue here and one that works against the citizens. Because as long as people refuse to pay the company will operate at a deficit and won’t be able to finance the repairing or upkeep of lines. Until that happens rolling blackouts will continue to be  a part of life.

Thank goodness I cleaned out my fridge before I left for the week. Otherwise, I would have had quite a fragrant apt when I returned!



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