Sunday, February 10, 2013

Loteria

 

Oops.  I forgot to pay a bill before it was due.  Usually we pay all our bills online, through our bank. We either get an email boleto (bill) or a boleto in the mail.  Then we go online, and enter the code (which contains something like 30 numbers), check the amount, click and it's paid!

But when you don't pay on time, things get more complicated.  You either have to go to the bank that holds the account and wait in line for what seems like FOREVER.  Or sometimes you have the option of paying the bill at a Loteria or "Lottery."  You can buy tickets for any of the thousands and thousands of various drawings, contests, card games, etcetera.  And, you can also pay bills there.  I remember asking my first English student here about the loterias:  what were they?  Why were there always HUGE lines outside of them?  She had never been in one before, so she didn't give me much information.  But what I've gathered is that it's mainly a place to buy your lottery tickets, and a service for those who don't have the resources to have a bank accounts (i.e. the poor).  If you need to pay something in cash, you can go, pay, and get the ever important receipt.  Note:  always save your receipts for things like gas, rent, HOA bill, etcetera, because you'll need to show those receipts to the rental agency when you move out of the apartment to confirm that you've paid everything.  Even though you already email them the receipt every month, and sometimes you send them a physical copy, they STILL need to see the original receipts.  Arg.

But anyway, I had to go pay my bill.  As with most things new that I have to do here in Brazil, I was nervous.  How long would I have to spend in line?  Did I have the right documents?  Did I have to have the amount in exact change?  I'm glad to say that it was easy:  my wait was about 5 minutes, I simply gave the bill, the teller calculated the late fee, I paid and didn't need exact change, got my receipt and was on my way! 

I'm still not sure where there are so often HUGE lines of people waiting outside the loterias.  Maybe it has to do when there is a big drawing?  An important soccer game?  The alignment of the stars?  Seriously, sometimes things like that seem controlled by such random factors.  But I also think that many Brazilians just have a lot more patience and tolerance for waiting.  We Americans are an impatient bunch, and we want to take care of business as quickly and as conveniently as possible.  And maybe that wait in line provides people with the opportunity to pick the winning numbers, dream about how they might use their winnings, or come to terms with the amount of money they will have to pay on their bills. 

8 comments:

  1. I could be wrong, but I don't think Loterias sell soccer tickets. Actually, I'm pretty sure they don't.

    They offer bill payment services, and they are also connected to Caixa - the bank, ie if you have an account at Caixa, you can use your bank card to withdraw at a Loterica (just another name for loterias). Also, if you're unemployed, and have a "Cartão Cidadão," instead of going to Caixa (again, the bank), you can get your unemployment insurance money at a Loterica.

    Now you're right that they sell lottery tickets, and the big lines usually form when Mega-Sena (Brazil's main lottery drawing) is offering the big bucks. The prize increases every time there's a drawing with no winners. So, yeah, when it goes up to millions of reais, people go crazy, and line up in front of the Loterias, hoping to become Brazil's new millionaires. :)

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  2. Hi samia! You are right: they don't sell tickets to soccer games. I meant to say that you can gamble on soccer games there. But I'm noT even sure that is correct. I will update that!

    And thanks for the additional info!

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  3. I always wondered myself. Some days, the lines go down the street. I can only assume these are the days at the end of the month, or at the very beginning, when people need to pay their bills.

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  4. Very interesting, Shelley! I've always assumed long lines are for something I DON'T WANT....lottery tickets, tickets for a concert, or a new release on some movie or piece of new electronic equipment....so I avoid. The only long lines I've endured are waiting for medical shots after a huge Montana flood, waiting in a college line to enroll in classes, Disneyland lines, or waiting to get into the UPS fieldhouse for a state basketball game. SO....I've been fortunate NOT to endure long lines. Keep the interesting articles coming!!

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  5. Shelley, loterias provide a lot of services. They are not exactly a bank for the poor, they are an extension of both Caixa Economica Federal and Banco do Brasil which are the two state banks we have in Brazil. So if you have a bank account in one of those banks you can use their service for deposits, withdraw cash, transfer into other accounts, etc.
    As Samia explained, the unemployed can get their insurance there and also people who are signed up for government's help programs such as Bolsa Familia, Bolsa Gas, Bolsa Escola (basically financial aid given by the state for people with low income or a lot of kids). Any other government program or financial aid may be withdrawn there too.
    You can pay bills there, as you have experienced, but they don't accept bills from some banks after due date (HSBC or Citybank for example).
    And you can buy lotery tickets! You see, they're multifunctional! That's why there's always a lot of people in line. Avoid going there from the 1st to the 10th of each month if you can, it's when all the bills are due and people can withdraw their benefits.

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    1. Hi Claudia--thanks for your comments. I had no idea that they were connected with Caixa Economica!

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  6. You can also pay in cash for minutes for a pre-paid cell phone there! I had to go to these lotéricas a lot when I only had a savings account and had to pay bills in cash. They offer so many little random services that the long lines are pretty understandable.

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    1. That makes sense! We are able to reload our prepaid online through our bank...I guess I should be thankful that we've had things pretty good with our bank account (I've been recently reading about other expats trying to open accounts and verify their addresses....sheesh!) and that I haven't had to wait in line at the Loterias...

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