On Friday, while we were gone to San Jose to pick up Karin and Alan, the electric company sent one of their technicians to shut off out electricity. There was a message on our phone when we got home. It was our friend Catalina explaining the situation. Clara had seen the technician drive up to our place and knowing we were out all day, she followed him up to our property. She caught up with him and asked him what the problem was. He said we hadn't paid our bill and he was sent to cut off all power. Clara told him it must be some kind of mistake and pleaded with him not to turn the power off. She explained we were having guests this weekend and so on. Thanks to Clara, he decided to wait until today to see if we would sort things out. And thanks to Clara we didn't have to entertain our guests by candlelight and cook over the fire pit. Clara called Catalina and asked her to call the electric company to assure them she will get in touch with us and will explain to us that we have a problem.
This was all very surprising to us. Our phone and electrical bills are paid monthly through the bank. We had issues several weeks ago with the phone being cut off and now this. What's the point of having automatic withdrawal if it's not automatic? We needed to sort this out right away. We were second in line so we didn't have to wait to be served. We saw the bank manager, Juan, who has been very helpful in the past and also speaks English. He invited us into his office and we explained the problem. He summoned one of the tellers to come in and check on the situation. The young man leaves for a few minutes and Juan, Kevin and I catch up. He tells us he'd like to take us to a beautiful place in the south of Costa Rica where there are mangroves and birds and more. He seems very excited about the possibility to take a trip down there with us. The teller comes back into his office and explains that although we have money in our U.S. account, we don't have enough to pay the bills in our Colones account and they are now paying our bills (suddenly) from our Colones account. We find out that we are four months behind in our payment to the electrical company. No wonder they were ready to cut us off. We're completely perplexed since they've always withdrawn from our U.S. account. Juan can't be sure why they've switch, but that the bank needs our authorization to be able to transfer funds from the U.S. account to the Colones account. So we sign the form giving authorization and we ask that they put a note in our file that if ever there's a problem, they should call us to let us know (we're not mind readers).
We thank Juan for his help and ask him to please call the electric company to let them know we're all paid up.
It's one thing if Kevin and I have to live through the inconvenience of no power due to a misunderstanding, but it's certainly isn't good for business if our guests are affected while they're staying with us. We were lucky Clara was around to convince the technician to wait and we were lucky the technician had a heart. We hope there won't be any more billing surprises.