IN the blistering heat and under a burning sun, and as demanded by the Galasa Chica we took the requested water meter reading. It was poles away from the number that she had previously underlined on the bill, but she had averred that she ‘could do nothing without today’s meter reading.’
Armed with smug righteousness and the reading we renewed our acquaintance with the Galasa office and air-conditioning.
The same Chica took off the same headset and indicated that we should sit in the same chairs which we vacated only an hour or so previously.
I proffered the same bill, but accompanied this time by today’s magic figures. She perused the numbers thoughtfully. ‘See,’ I said, ‘they are quite different. There must be a mistake.’
Foolishly I had imagined that providing her with the requested reading would form a basis of negotiation. However, she was not going to admit that Galasa had made an error, and overcharged somebody to the tune of more than 35 times that which was owed.
She must have attended a special training course in evasiveness, and passed with honours. ‘You must have a leak.’ Polite but adamant.
‘No, there is no leak.’ Polite but equally adamant.
‘If the meter reads it, then the water must have gone through. You must have a leak.’
‘No, the meter must be faulty. Look, the numbers are completely different.’ I stabbed an exasperated finger at the number which she had underlined on the bill and then the number on the current reading.
‘That number isn’t the meter reading.’ She pointed to the bill. ‘It is the quantity of water consumed.’
I could have said ‘You mentally deficient bovine, why didn’t you tell us that? You’ve sent us all the way back for no reason other than to be awkward. You asked for the reading, yet the reading is irrelevant.’
I didn’t, though I could have done! Instead I said ‘Mm.’
Maybe it was conscience, or more likely she knew she had me. She felt she could afford to be magnanimous. ‘You could get the meter checked. Or you could claim compensation.’
‘We’ll claim compensation.’ I rose majestically and stalked out. I had done my best and I was beat, but I wasn’t going to let it show.
Barbara, on my advice, has handed the problem over to the Arboleas Ayuntamiento, who know what’s what, and have no fear of petty officialdom.
That Chica won’t get way with giving them the run-around!