We remember the first time receiving our Thai electric bill and hadn’t a clue where to pay it or when it was due. We figure there are many first timers who need a little guidance, so we’ve dedicated this post to breaking down the anatomy of a Thai electric bill and showing you where and how to pay for it.
The first time you look at a Thai electric bill, it’ll be pretty obvious what you owe because it’s written in Western numbers and surrounded by a big red box. But questions such as, “When is the payment due?” and “Where do I pay?” are pretty much left unanswered because the rest of the bill is written in Thai.
The Anatomy of a Thai Electric Bill
Here’s an example of a Thai electric bill. Although there are many electric companies throughout Thailand, the one we use is called the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and provides nationwide service.
To keep things simple, the most important parts are marked in yellow. In case you want to know what’s in the rest of the boxes, we’ve included that information in green.
When, Where, and How to Pay a Thai Electric Bill
PEA electric bills are delivered once a month and placed in the small white boxes with purple lettering that are usually mounted on buildings’ outer walls or the surrounding fences. There’s no formal envelope containing your Thai electric bill as there would be back home. Instead, bills are issued on small pieces of paper that are not much bigger than a grocery store receipt.
You’ll have ten days to pay your PEA electric bill after it’s been issued. The payment period (not just a single date) is listed at the bottom right hand corner of the receipt in the format:
DD-DD MM YYYY or DD MM-DD MM YYYY
You’ll notice that the month is abbreviated down to two Thai characters and the year is the Thai year. The Thai calendar year is different than Western countries’ calendar year. In this case, 2557 (generally) corresponds to the Western year of 2014. We say generally because Thailand’s New Years date is not on January 1st, making it even more confusing!
By far the easiest way to pay an electric bill in Thailand is to go to your local 7-Eleven or Tesco Lotus Express, which can be found on practically every town block. Make sure to bring the original bill with you and go to any register. The cashier will scan it and ring it up separately from any other purchases you may have. There will be a small convenience fee added to the bill (we’re talking only a few baht) and then the cashier will staple a receipt to the original bill for you to keep after you’ve paid it.
Alternatively, you can pay the electric company directly at one of their offices. The PEA has a few office locations in Chiang Mai, which are easily recognized by the buildings’ white and purple exterior. If you pay here, there’s a good chance that there will be a bit longer wait than if you were to pay at your local 7-Eleven or Tesco Lotus Express. It’s simply because these offices handle more than just monthly payments. On the plus side, you won’t be charged a convenience fee.
When you first walk inside one of the PEA offices, you should spot either a number-generating kiosk or a little table or podium with paper slips in numerical order. Grab a number and take a seat. Big offices are usually equipped with an announcing system and number display board (similar to the DMV), so all you have to do is wait for your number and respective counter number to be called.
Bring with you your original bill and the cash to the counter. You won’t have to say a word to the cashier. Just pass everything over and in less than a minute the cashier will return the bill along with a payment receipt and any change.
What if I am late paying my bill?
If you did not make a payment during your ten day window frame, you won’t be able to pay at 7-Eleven or the Tesco Lotus Express, but you can pay at the electric companies’ offices. The best part is that you aren’t even charged a late fee!
We’ve had mixed reviews on when the electricity will be cut off if you do not pay your bill. One of Angela’s old co-workers swore his electricity was cut off four or five days past the due date, while a Thai friend of ours says it’s at least two weeks. The power company will cut off service and will only restore it once you have paid your bill.
See, it’s pretty easy paying for your Thai electric bill. You get a ten day window to pay, there’s no late fee, and you can conveniently go to any local 7-Eleven or Tesco Lotus Express. Now if only this monthly expense was this cheap back home!
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