For about two years Mr. J and I were using portable wi-fi through E Mobile, and besides being unable to torrent, we liked their unlimited usage service. Then a couple of months ago they sold or merged with the company Yahoo! Mobile, and with it our contract was suddenly changed to a more expensive, 10 GB data limit plan. After maxing out our usage mid-month both last month and this month, we decided to cancel and go with a different provider. At the same time, a co-worker friend of mine quit the main company I work for, and because she doesn’t speak much Japanese I’ve been helping her take care of canceling her electricity and gas.
If you’ve been living on your own, before relocating to a different part of Japan or moving back home, and besides the inevitable packing and sending your stuff, you’ll probably need to cancel or change your address on all of your utilities as well. While the process can be a bit annoying, thankfully it’s not too difficult.
Changing Info/Canceling Your Electricity
I’m using Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) as an example, but any other electricity services out there should be similar.
On the left hand, bottom corner of the bill and the bottom of the customer payment receipt (next to the part the convenience store stamps), there should be two telephone numbers listed. The top number is for moving and contract changes, including service cancellations, and the bottom number is for other general inquiries about your service/electricity.
Most of these service lines are automated, and you’ll need to choose whichever option includes moving (hikkoshi/引っ越し) or cancellation (teishi/停止). For most TEPCO branches, I believe this is option 2. Once connected with a representative, you’ll need to give your name, phone number, and customer number.
Whether relocating your service to another address or canceling altogether and your apartment has an auto lock feature, you’ll need to make an appointment on a date where you can be present at your old apartment to let a company electrician in to shut the service off. Appointment times generally run weekdays between 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Some companies don’t offer weekend shutoffs, and if they do, those dates will fill up the fastest.
TEPCO will also ask you for your new address to send the final bill, or to send a wire transfer payment for it instead. If up until now you’ve been paying your bill through automatic withdraws, the last bill should be no different.
Call at least at least a few days before you need service shut off, but I recommend calling as soon as possible or 1-2 weeks in advance, especially if you’re picky about the appointment day. TEPCO offers a FAQ in English, as well as online cancellations.
Changing Info/Canceling Your Gas
Rental properties are set-up for either “toshi” (city gas/natural gas/methane gas) or “LP” gas (propane gas). There are also a ton of local and large gas companies, so I can’t tell you what the exact process will be like for each one. However, much like canceling or changing your electricity provider, your bill should have a customer service (toiawase/問い合わせ) number or a service number for (hikkoshi/引っ越し) or cancellation (teishi/停止) printed somewhere on the bill. You’ll need to give your address, contact number, and customer number (if applicable).
Since the majority of gas companies require you to pay your final bill in full after shutoff (unless you’re on automatic withdrawal), plan setting up an appointment time. Much like when shutting off your electricity, appointment times generally run weekdays between 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and your weekend appointment mileage may vary. The easiest thing to do is set your electricity and gas appointments during the same time frame.
The gas company in our area recommends calling no less than 2 days before you need service shut off. Call a lot earlier than this you don’t have much flexibility with appointment times.
Changing Info/Canceling Your Water
Water is usually provided through the water department at your city/town hall, or ward office. You can either call the department or visit the department in person to arrange cancellation.
When Mr. J and I have moved in the past, they usually forwarded the last water bill to our new address. If you’ll be leaving the country, you’ll need to discuss other payment options.
Canceling Your Internet
If you plan on moving and keeping the same service, you only need to call your service provider’s customer service (toiawase/問い合わせ) number to change your address. This goes for changing your billing method or personal information, too.
If on portable wi-fi, you won’t need to do anything regarding set-up at the new address, but when using a broadband or ADSL service like Yahoo! or Hikari Flets, you’ll need to set up appointments after moving to see if your new apartment is set up for the internet, what plan it falls under, and possible re-installation. This process can take up to 1-2 months after you move.
If canceling service you’ll still need to call. If you’re using a router (including portable) from a service provider, it’s likely you’ll be required to mail it back to the company or arrange a time for it to be picked up. If you’ve lost or damaged the router you’ll be charged extra upon cancellation.
Many internet contracts are renewed annually or bi-annually, and you might incur a cancellation fee if you cancel before it finishes. If you pay through your service via automatic withdrawal or credit card, the final bill should be easy to sort out. Paper bills can be forwarded to new addresses, but if leaving Japan you’ll probably be required to send a wire transfer.
Questions about other service cancelations? Drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out. 🙂