The Billing section of the Arms website contains a series of FAQ. This is one of them:
"I am being charged domestic rates and my account indicates that my ‘number of residents’ is 0. Nevertheless I remember that, in previous bills, my number of residents was 1. What should I do?
Your account is registered as ‘domestic’ and is being billed at domestic rates because we were never notified that there were persons living therein. In the past, up until 30th September 2008, bills were calculated by granting subsidy for one person, irrespective of whether there were no persons registered on that particular account. That was the reason why, on certain invoices, the ‘number of residents’ was shown as zero, one or not applicable. This has been applied to all our customers, irrespective of nationality.
At this stage, you are kindly requested to fill in and submit this form, together with official evidence of your residency in Malta (such as a copy of your Maltese Identity Card or a residence permit). Once these are provided, we will be able to update your account. Subsidies resulting from this will apply as from your next bill."
My proposals for more FAQ on the Arms website
I recommend that Arms also has the following FAQ in the Billing section of its website:
Why is it that this Arms website does not include any information for tenants to know how to access the correct residential tariff for people living in their primary residence?
This is because Arms wants to continue getting away with overcharging as many tenants as possible for as long as possible. Also, we want to help tax evading landlords, and landlords, who do not want their banks to know that they committed fraud on their home loan applications.
After all, it doesn’t matter where the state gets its money from as long as it gets its money.
Why is it that Arms does not care if this behaviour causes distress and hardship for tenant consumers of electricity and water living in their primary residences?
Well, Arms is the sole, state owned utility billing company. As such, it doesn’t matter if tenants are not treated fairly or if this behaviour is against the Constitution of Malta or against EU law.
Most tenants are non Maltese while most landlords are Maltese. Non Maltese nationals cannot vote in national elections. So we are not bothered. On the other hand, the votes of Maltese landlords are important for the government of the day so we would like to help them in their criminal behaviour.
In Malta, principles and values are not important. But votes?! Votes are the be all and end all.
Can you explain why the second home tariff is called the domestic tariff? Don’t you think that this is misleading?
Yes, of course it is misleading. We want to make sure that as many tenants as possible are tricked into thinking that the domestic tariff is the correct tariff for them. At the very least, we want the time it takes them to realize that they are on the incorrect tariff to be as long as possible.
Why do tenants need the permission of the landlord to be put on the correct residential tariff?
Again, this facilitates, and prolongs, our overcharging of tenants. In fact, we have somehow serendipitously created a fraud triangle between most letting agents, landlords and ourselves, so that it is in all of our interests to keep the tenant in the dark about this state sanctioned scam.
Have tenants been in contact with you once they have found out about this scam? What recourse did you give them?
Yes, we have had many tenants contact us when they found out that they had been overcharged. It is quite amusing, really, seeing their reactions. Most of them have to be taken to hospital because of injuries to their jaws when the penny drops that the Maltese government colluded in this scam AND when they realize that they are not going to easily get a refund of their overpayment.
Some have arrears on their accounts even when they have overpaid. So these lucky few are hilariously in even more trouble because technically speaking, prima facie, they 'owe' their landlords money. Their landlords join in the fun with us and get a Maltese court of law to garnishee their bank accounts and / or salaries. What usually happens in these cases is the tenant pays up and then leaves Malta with a fantastical story to relate to all and sundry, back in their home countries.
However, unfortunately, there is an increasing number of recalcitrant tenants who are not playing ball. They are actually fighting for their garnisheed money back. Which exposes the villainy of Arms and landlords for all to see. This is not so good.
Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.