Meralco says sorry for confusion, inconvenience on bills
MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) repeatedly apologized on Monday for inconveniencing customers over its confusing billings during the lockdown.
The apology came after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian pressed for action from Meralco following its own admission that it failed to reflect the “overestimation” and “underestimation” in some of the bills of its consumers.
Gatchalian himself complained during the hearing of the Senate committee on energy, which he chairs, that his bill did not reflect whether or not there were overestimations in the months when he barely stayed at his condo.
“Isa lang ako ha; we’re talking about 6.5 million Meralco consumers. I’m only one and maraming ganitong complaint kaming nakukuha. But you really need to sit down and validate one by one. But the mere fact there are complaints of confusion then clearly Meralco is not doing a good job in explaining and also in laying out the electricity bills,” Gatchalian said.
“So anong correction action point; we need action, Mr. Espinosa? We’ve proven in this hearing that there’s confusion, we’ve proven that the estimates are jumbled in the actual. What are the action points that we can expect?” he added.
The senator was directing his question to Meralco chief executive officer and president Ray Espinosa.
“In relation to your specific bill and with respect to all similar cases, I believe that as you have clearly pointed out, there has been basically a failure in our part to clarify to our customers what is actual and what is estimated and that I wish to apologize to you and to all similarly situated customers,” Espinosa said.
To address this issue, Meralco vowed to send letters to customers explaining their estimated consumptions as well as the actual bills.
Espinosa stressed Meralco has no intention to charge its customers beyond their consumptions.
“As I have made it very clear to everybody, it’s not Meralco’s business to charge your customers beyond what they have actually consumed. The law and the regulation authorizes to charge customers only on the basis of what has been actually consumed…” he said.
Before this, Espinosa also apologized when Gatchalian lamented how Meralco consumers have to take the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus disease when they line up to personally pay their bills.
“First of all, let me ask for the indulgence of the chair and the members of the committee and let me apologize for the continuing inconvenience to our customers brought about by their concerns and issue regarding this billing matters. We will double and triple our efforts to actually hire more call center agents,” he said.
In fact, Espinosa said, they have already started hiring more people as call center agents to help respond to emails from their customers.
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