Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Paying the bills in Russia

You've received a bill...now what do you do with it?

There are some forms of electronic payment cropping up in Russia, but the traditional way is paying through the bank. I suppose it's the counterpart of writing a check in the U.S.

Since I've never rented my own apartment, I've never had to deal too much with the bills, but the need arises every once in a while.

In order to pay, you take the kvitancia (bill) to the bank, get in the proper line, hand it to the cashier with your money, get your receipt, and leave. I have to admit that it isn't THAT complicated, but I have a bit of a phobia about having to interact with someone while there is a glass window between us. I suppose it is a fear of miscommunication.  Of course language plays a role, but I distinctly remember being afraid of buying movie tickets in the U.S. because of the same window scenario. I guess it is just a communication preference...more/-

One of the items on my list is paying the government fee for the temporary residence permit. The only thing is that they didn't give me a kvitancia, just handwrote an amount on my little list. So how was I going to pay the fee through the bank if there was no official indication of how much the amount should be or who was the recipient? Sometimes I don't understand how money gets where it is supposed to go.

I tried to download a blank from the Internet, but couldn't find one. I asked around a little bit and everyone said to just go to the bank and tell them what it was for and they would perform the transaction. O-kay....a little too casual for my taste.

Because of the window thing I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make myself understood, so I wrote down "Temp. residency permit-1000 rub." (in Russian) on a piece of paper and handed it through the little slot along with my money.

So far, so good...she started typing something into the computer. Then she asked for my registration. D'oh! Didn't have it with me (should have). I happened to remember the address where I was registered (which is NOT where I live), and she was satisfied. Then I had to give my name. Sigh. I was not about to spell my name out loud through a glass window. I had the translation of my passport with me, so I squeezed that through the slot, even though I had been trying to keep it pristine for the authorities. She typed some more.

Then she asked about which neighborhood I would be in when presenting the receipt. I told her where the FMS office was. More typing.

Then I got my receipt. It seems to have sufficient information on it to show when I go to present my documents.

Meanwhile, the man behind me began his transaction. The girl asked for his passport.

"Passport? I left it at home."

So I guess everyone doesn't have it figured out.

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