Meralco to restart collecting P47 ‘convenience fee’ for online payments
MANILA, Philippines — Meralco on Tuesday said it has effectively ceased its waiver of convenience fee from consumers who will pay their electricity bills online, as business centers and other payment channels open with the transition to the general community quarantine in most cities, including Metro Manila.
This means that Meralco will again start collecting a convenience fee of P47 for those paying dues online.
William Pamintuan, Meralco senior vice president and head of Legal and Corporate Governance Office, told the House committee on good government and public accountability that the convenience fee was initially waived due to restrictions on operations of business centers and payment channels as part of protocols of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The House panels were hearing the sudden spike in electricity rates, as reflected in the billing statements of Meralco consumers especially during the lockdown period.
“The rationale for that waiver, Mr. Chair, is that because the business centers and other payment channels that were available to consumers were unduly restricted because of the ECQ, Meralco had made a decision to waive that fee,” Pamintuan said.
“However, because we have already opened under the GCQ most of our business centers and other payment channels are now available to consumers, the waiver of the P47 was effectively ceased,” he added.
Pamintuan said that with the shift from ECQ to GCQ, consumers now have options in paying their bills.
“Because of the opening of our business centers, the waiver will not be effective anymore,” Pamintuan said.
But Quezon City Rep. Anthony Peter Crisologo noted that even if business centers are already open, some consumers do not have the means of transportation to travel to them.
“Siguro, if you might, maliit lang naman na convenience fee. Actually hindi nga siya lumalabas na convenience, parang pagdadagdag sa babayaran ng tao, baka naman pwede tayong, tutal GCQ pa tayo, if we can still waive the convenience fee,” Crisologo asked Meralco.
Pamintuan said Crisologo’s suggestion will be discussed by the power company’s management.
“We would take that good suggestion of the good congressman into consideration, and we’ll discuss it with our management,” Pamintuan said.
Meralco earlier waived its P47 convenience fee in paying electricity bills through Meralco Online, a platform accessible via a website or mobile app, amid the pandemic.
This, after the Department of Energy ordered Meralco to explain why it is charging a convenience fee for consumers who opt to pay their bills online.
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