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Meralco waives P47 convenience fee for online bills payment

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has waived its P47 convenience fee in paying electricity bills through Meralco Online, a platform accessible via website or mobile app, in light of the ongoing quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Waived na ‘yan, so pwede na gamitin ‘yan na hindi sila nangangamba na machacharge pa (Thae convenience fee has been waived, so they may use it (app) and not worry about being charged),” Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said in an interview on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo on Thursday.

‘Yung mga nacharge during the said period, i-re-refund namin ‘yan. Iisa-isahin namin ‘yung mga naapektuhan nito para naman sa ganun, what is due them, kahit naibayad na nila ‘yung P47, ay maibalik sa kanila,” he also said.

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(Those charged during the said period will get a refund. We will make sure all those who were charged will get a refund)

The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier ordered Meralco to explain why it is charging a convenience fee for consumers who opt to pay their bills online.

“Parang hindi po naging convenience ito, parang naging pabigat sa bulsa (It doesn’t seem like a convenience, but more of a burden for consumers),” said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in a video message sent to reporters on Tuesday.

Meralco earlier encouraged its customers to pay their bills through online platforms to avoid crowding in payment centers and prevent risk of infection to the virus amid the pandemic.

“Perhaps what Meralco should have done during the (ECQ) period – March 16 to May 15 -– was to shoulder the convenience fee charged by the payment gateway provider considering that the Meralco Business Offices and Bayad Center branches and partner outlets were closed during that time,” Meralco president Ray Espinosa said in a letter to Cusi dated May 20.

Zaldarriaga said the period covered in the letter is from March 16 to My 15, 2020.

“I sincerely apologize for this lapse,” Espinosa said.

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“Meralco will shoulder the convenience fee charged during the aforesaid ECQ period and refund to the customers the fees they paid during this period.”

The company earlier clarified that the fee does not go to its coffers, but is charged by Meralco Online third-party service providers following common online payment industry practice in the Asia-Pacific region.

“I wish to assure you that we shall be more sensitive in the future and shall be ever mindful of the best interest and well-being of our customers,” Espinosa said.

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TAGS: MERALCO, Meralco convenience fee, Quarantine
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