By Chip Womick
ASHEBORO — City water customers can now pay their bill in person, anytime, 365 days a year.
They can pay by cash, check or credit card (and debit cards used as credit cards).
The only catch to paying with cash is that there’s no change.
That’s because the 24-hour-a-day option is a kiosk — sort of like an ATM machine — located behind City Hall at 146 N. Church St.
The touch-screen operation guides customers through each step of the process, takes the payment and then prints a receipt.
To access an account, customers need their account number, which is printed on their monthly statement. Customers who want to pay several accounts at the kiosk will have to enter each one as a separate transaction (and, if paying by check, for example, write a separate check for each account).
City finance officer Debbie Reaves updated city council members about the new service last week at their regular March meeting.
“Customers have been a little apprehensive,” Reaves said, adding that she and other staff members have spent time standing by J-A-C-K (Justified Automated Collections Kiosk), even in the wind and rain, to welcome residents and help them learn to use the new machine.
“Most people, when they do try it, they say, ‘Oh, that’s a lot easier than I thought it would be,’ ” she said.
Of course, customers can still make their payment to a live person in the Billing and Collection Department’s basement office in City Hall during regular business hours, Monday-Friday. The billing office is now closed from noon-1 p.m. daily so payment hours are 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.
Other payment options include:
* By mail.
* Online or by phone with a credit card (www.officialpayments.com or 1 (800) 272-9829). The jurisdiction code is 3957. That option includes a convenience fee that goes to the third-party collector.
* Via a monthly bank draft (with four billing dates available).
The old drop box that was behind City Hall is no longer available.
* For more information, call the Utility Billing and Collection Department at (336) 626-1222.