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Paying utility bills in China: Gas

There are various ways to pay your gas bill – here’s a look at the options, as well as how to decipher the information on the bill itself. 


When to pay

You’ll know it’s time to pay because you’ll receive a bill from the gas company, taped to your door (or they’ll knock at the door to present you with your bill). How often you need to pay depends on where you live. In some communities, you’ll receive a bill every month. In others, there may be gaps of several months between bills arriving. 


Deciphering the bill

The bill will look like the piece of paper in the photo below. The text in red explains what each part of the bill refers to – the most important parts are those telling you how much you have to pay and what the deadline for payment is.


Click on image for larger version.


Paying a representative directly

In some Chinese cities, gas company representatives will knock on doors, allowing residents to pay their bills directly, in person. In most cities, though, representatives will simply post your bill on your door, without knocking, meaning you have to pay elsewhere, or online.


Paying with a “Lakala” machine

Source: mall.lakala.com

“Lakala” (拉卡拉) machines are increasingly the most convenient way for foreigners to make utility payments in China. You can find these yellow machines in many convenience stores, and they’re relatively simple to use, provided you have an understanding of Chinese characters. As well as paying utility bills, you can also use these handy devices to add phone credit or make Taobao purchases.

Ask a Chinese friend to help you with reading the characters (gas is “天然气”), but all you need to do is select the type of bill you want to pay, enter your customer number (on the top left of the gas bill), then swipe your bank card and enter your password to confirm your payment.  

You can also buy a Lakala machine to use from your apartment – more information on that here.


Paying at a bank

You can only pay your gas bill at certain banks. Options will vary depending on which city you’re in, but you can usually pay at Construction Bank of China, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Agriculture Bank of China and China Merchants Bank.

  1. Take your bill to the bank. 
  2. Take a number to join the queue. 
  3. When your number is called, present your bill to the teller, and hand over the cash to pay the bill.
  4. The teller will stamp the bill and return a copy to you, along with a receipt.


Paying online

In some cities, the gas company will allow online payments via online banking or Alipay. Ask a Chinese friend to help you find out if these services are available in your city.


Late payments

What will happen if you don’t pay by the deadline printed on the bill? Hard to say, as the gas company’s responses are often vary from area to area. 

There’s no fine for late payments – at worst, your gas will be cut off. If this happens, you’ll have to endure the inconvenience of traveling to the local gas company to pay the bill. When you do pay, your service should be restored immediately. 

However, in most cases, the local gas company will not cut you off immediately. Often, they’ll tolerate late payments, sometimes for months. The gas company may simply update your total debt and post a new bill next time they do their rounds.

If you receive a bill printed on green paper (rather than the usual white), you should take it seriously and pay as soon as possible: This is a final warning, and the next step will be to cut off your gas.


Useful Chinese words and phrases

账单        zhàng dān     bill
天然气        tiān rán qì     natural gas
地址        dì zhǐ         address
天然气        tiān rán qì    natural gas
银行         yín hang        bank
天然气        tiān rán qì     natural gas
网银         wǎng yín     online banking
支付宝        zhīfù bǎo     Alipay
逾期        yú qī         overdue
表格        biǎo gé         form


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