Meralco extends waiver on P47 online convenience fee

Published July 6, 2020, 4:48 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Manila Electric Co. is (Meralco) will extend the waiver of the P47-convenience fee paid by electricity customers who choose to pay their bills through its online platform.


Meralco president and chief executive officer Ray Espinosa made the commitment during the Senate energy committee’s hearing on the consumer complaints on the surge of electricity rates during the lock down period.   

Senators urged the electricity firm to continue to waive the P47-convenience fee until the general community quarantine (GCQ) is lifted.

“We will extend the waiver of the convenience fee for the entire duration of the GCQ, or until the GCQ is terminated,” Espinosa said in response to Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Risa Hontiveros’ appeal.

“We will spare the consumer the cost of the convenience fee,” Espinosa said.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy panel, reiterated that the P47-convenience fee is a disincentive to people who wish to abide by the government’s protocol against COVID-19.

“For me, the P47 is a disincentive (that would make me think) lalabas na lang ako kaysa magbayad ng (I will leave the house just to avoid paying an) additional fee,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Meralco earlier waived the convenience fee but started collecting it again after the government lifted the ECQ and eased into GCQ last June.

Espinosa initially explained that Meralco is not in a position to waive the fees as customers are actually paying PayMaya—the company’s payment gateway provider since 2017—for their services.

He later said Meralco is actually in the process of looking for other payment gateway operators who may actually charge a much lower fee to bring down the cost of the convenience fee.

Nevertheless, Espinosa said those who wish to avoid paying the convenience fee can pay their bills online through their banks that have their own online banking platforms.

“If you pay through your own banks—online payment banking—there’s no fee charged by these banks,” he said.

“Just to set the record straight, when we speak about online payment of Meralco bills, the Meralco app is not the only online channel (where you can pay). If you pay through your own banks say BPI, Citibank, BDO, etc. there are no fees that are being charged if you use the direct facilities of the banks themselves,” Espinosa said.

“The thing about this payment gateway is that it’s a third party operator. It is neither your bank, it is neither our platform. So they charge a fee for making their payment gateway available to our customers,” the Meralco official further said.