The Collection Man, or A Series of Incompetent Events

For some reason, Alex, my brother and roommate, is afraid of the mailbox. I’m not quite sure why this is; he has a mailbox key that functions just as well as mine does, and he has been here in the new year much longer than I have, yet when I opened our shared mailbox for the first time on January 19th, 2015, I was greeted with a gigantic pile of mail–indeed, nearly two months’ worth.

Most of this was the usual junk: advertisements, unrequested catalogs and coupons, and a few pieces of official-looking correspondence for people who haven’t lived at our apartment for some time (although Sandra, if you’re reading this, the City of New York has sent you a summons for parking violations). There were also the usual bills, and then a strange-looking piece of mail from an outfit called PennCredit.

Upon reading the enclosed letter, I learned that my National Grid (gas) account had been referred to a collection agency. This was odd, since, before I had left NYC, I had been careful to pay the outstanding balances on all accounts. A closer look revealed that this was actually my OLD account, the one I had opened at my last apartment. This outstanding balance was from an account that I had closed in JULY OF LAST YEAR. I had never received any bill for it and had thus never been able to pay it? Why didn’t they just forward the outstanding about to my new address, where I had indeed opened another National Grid account? Because National Grid, in its infinite wisdom, will not let you transfer one account across multiple addresses. Rather, you are required to open and close new accounts at each and every place you live, resulting in situations like this, where bills get lost even though you have the same name as the old account and are staying within the same area and using the same gas company.

So, basically, I heard NOTHING from National Grid the entire time I’ve been living at my “new” place (going on 7 months now), until I was magically served with a notice from a collection agency. How they all of the sudden managed to get a letter to me (when it apparently eluded them since August 2014) is beyond me. It’s no big deal, really: it does not affect my credit score and the amount is under $40. It just annoys me. More than one utility in NYC has sent me no bills or sent bills to wrong addresses or locked me out of online accounts for weeks and then popped up to scream at me that I owe them money and I’m a worthless degenerate. They’re like a little kid who gets so worked up into a frenzy that they won’t get the toy they want that they throw a tantrum before they remember to ask for it. Yeesh.

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