LifeSlices: Dear government, this is the 21st Century…

I hate to complain, because I sound so whiny, but…

I’ve had a little run-in with the cops over an overdue speeding ticket, and the phone conversation with the gal at municipal court was revealing. I’m supposed to bring a large amount of cash to their office on Friday to avoid certain, um, unpleasantries, but she tweaked my curiosity when she said, “Of course, you can always go to our website…”

So I’m thinking that I’m going to be able to pay this sucker online, but then she told me that I could click on a link in the upper left-hand corner, print a form, fill it out and FAX it to her. She would then run the credit information and that would be that.

Fax it? How 20th Century.

I’ll give the city of Lewisville credit for getting it half right, but then it got me to thinking about governments and especially utilities. When will they get with the program and realize that there are newer and BETTER ways to communicate with people these days?

To tell the truth, I pay a whole lot more attention to email, tweets and text messages than I do the archaic stuff from the post office (often to my detriment).

I pay my bills online, wherever possible, and I’m always struck by how some entities don’t even make that available, to say nothing of actually sending reminders via 21st century applications.

It’s always the monopolies that get away with this stuff, so I say bring on the competition. What we need is are businesses that take all the collecting away from municipalities, thereby reducing the payroll and, one assumes, bringing new communications forms to the table.

Is that asking for too much?

Comments

  1. I will say this about a former utility of mine. Oklahoma Gas & Electric made electronic payments easy for me around 2002. The bill images were online and they sent me an email when the bill was ready … which meant I usually paid the bill the same day (instead of the end of the cycle with pay by mail).

  2. I was surprised enough that I was able to pay my San Diego Gas & Electric bill at the SDG&E Web site. That was reasonably forward-thinking. But then last month, I got a parking ticket, and I discovered to my shock that the city of San Diego would take payment for *that* online.

    I’m still bugged by the circumstances under which I was ticketed, but it was nice not to have to mail a check.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Terry Heaton, after having to pay for a speeding ticket by fax, notes the streamlining of government services that could come with an embracing technology: I’ll give the city of Lewisville credit for getting it half right, but then it got me to thinking about governments and especially utilities. When will they get with the program and realize that there are newer and BETTER ways to communicate with people these days? […]

  2. […] One of Terry Heaton’s criticisms of municipalities is that a lack of competition has kept them from adopting all those convenient little innovations that make internet commerce a relative breeze. It’s very difficult to find an online vendor asking you to use anything but your internet connection and a credit card to complete a transaction. Local governments, on the other hand, often request that you fax, mail, call or drive something to an office somewhere. […]

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