Must We Endure Hardship To Pay Our Telephone Bills?

April 13, 2007

The Pacific coast village of Nosara, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, is having a problem with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). Until a few months ago, we could pay our telephone bills at an ICE office located inside the local hardware store, Materiales Construcción de Nosara.Now, we must drive to either Sámara or Nicoya to pay our phone bills or pay them online. Very few Ticos here own computers, have access to computers or know how to operate a computer.

The drive to Nicoya is 90 kilometers of potholes. Ticos have to take a day off from work just to pay their phone bills. It’s not only unfair and a terrible hardship, but it’s dangerous too. The road to and from Nosara to Sámara and Nicoya has had a problem with armed bandidos for the past few years. There have been armed robberies of cars, trucks and buses. I’ve tried and failed to contact anyone at ICE who seems to know or care about this situation.

Hopefully, you can find us some answers that will make ICE realize the hardships and dangers we suffer just to pay our phone bills.

Pamela Ellsworth

Nosara, Nicoya

ICE says the closure of the payment counter at the hardware store was due to a tramite problem that is in the process of being fixed. ICE spokeswoman Jinneth Ruiz said the counter was shut down temporarily because the store didn’t have proper ICE authorization to be taking payments from clients.

Asdrubal Vargas, the new manager of Materiales Construcción de Nosara, said he has been negotiating a new contract with ICE. He said the institution demanded more requisites and a new contract, though he said he doesn’t know exactly what the problem was with the former payment counter. Nor did ICE give specifics. The Tico Times has talked with three different ICE officials, and the best response we received was an e-mail from ICE that said the hardware store had to “do some requisites” and “formalize a contract” with the institution before the payment counter could be reopened.

The store’s former manager, Hector Breceño, said there were differences over whether the shop was required to have an office dedicated to receiving ICE payments, or just a separate cash register.

Vargas is optimistic, and told The Tico Times he expects the contract to be signed soon so the payment counter can be reopened in the near future.

ICE spokeswoman Ruiz apologized to clients in Nosara for the inconvenience, and reminded customers that they can have their phone bills paid in a timely and efficient manner by enrolling in ICE’s Automatic Bill Payment (PAR) system, in which phone bill payments are made automatically via a credit or debit card, or by bank account deduction. For more information call ICE at 220-7720.

 

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