I moved into my current apartment in Shanghai on December 10, 2004. That means I have been living here for over half a year. In all that time, not a single electricity bill has showed up.
At first my roommates and I didn’t mind; we figured it came every few months. As the months started to add up, however, we got nervous. The three of us used the heat a fair amount during the winter, which, with three people, could easily amount to 500 rmb or more per month. We didn’t want to get slammed with that all at once.
I told my landlord about the problem, and she told me to check with the apartment administration. They said they didn’t handle that. I relayed this to my landlord, and she said she’d handle it. More time passed.
Recently my roommate Carl has landed a new job that will necessitate his relocation to another part of Shanghai. Carl has never been one to waive any power consumption rights, so we definitely wanted to settle the matter of the electricity bill before he moved (and before the sum got too huge). So recently I asked my landlord about it again, stressing the urgency. This time she got answers.
What she told me is that the power meter has been broken all this time, and she’d have it fixed soon. Furthermore, we wouldn’t have to pay for the power we have used in the past six months!
I find it a little hard to believe. Could the power company make such a mistake? Power just doesn’t get given away for free. Could it have been my landlord’s mistake, and somehow she won’t be able to determine how much we’ve used, so she’ll have to pay the sum herself? That doesn’t seem likely, because the power company should be able to tell her the amounts.
If we really don’t have to pay those six months of power bills and the power meter has still not been fixed yet, then I think it’s time to get busy using some more free power. Somehow, though, I think this bill will find its way to us down the road. In the meantime, it’s nice to think we got six months of free power.