Curtain Call

a bundle of ethernet cablesWouldn’t you believe it? After all I have been through (by proxy through my friend) to get internet, one would think that everything was finally sorted and done, finished, file closed. Well, not really… My internet problems got a final curtain call:

Last week I received my first internet bill, and I wanted to set up automatic payment as I did for my other utilities. I was already familiar with the necessary form and I knew that there was an extra space for NTT. So, I took the bill to my bank, filled in the standard form and – that’s where the problems started.

NTT is traditionally a telephone provider, and the form for automatic payment is simple; all you have to fill in is the phone number of your landline. However, strictly speaking, I don’t have a landline. I have a VoIP internet telephone as part of my internet package that I bought through NTT. So, while I could give the phone number on the form, said number is never mentioned on the bill, interestingly. All the bill mentions is my NTT customer ID, but there is no space for that on the form, obviously.

Panic ensued among the clerks, but, this being Japan, I was asked to sit down and wait as usual. From my spot on the couch I could watch the clerk who was serving me repeatedly scratch her head, look unhappily from the bill to the form and back, ask for advice from other clerks… Finally she gave up and with a face of resignation sat down on a desk and made a phone call – presumably to NTT.

Banking in Japan – unless you do it online – is never a speedy business, even if you do not have to wait in line. For that reason, all Japanese banks provide seats and sometimes even newspapers and other reading material. However, with almost an hour for such a simple transaction I must have set a new record.

When I finally received all my paperwork back – with the assurance that everything had turned out alright – the clerk explained to me that the problem was the combined internet/phone bill, but apparently they have found a way to deal with this. Well, I will see next month if it indeed worked…