Meralco ends sending letters to consumers

Published July 18, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) concluded on Thursday (July 16) the dispatch of ‘personal letters’ that expressed its apology and carried the non-technical or layman explanation of the electricity bills that tormented consumers during the lockdown period.

That has been based on the update report that the company has submitted to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi – and that was through a formal correspondence sent to his office.

The energy chief conveyed that Meralco President Ray C. Espinosa apprised him of the target “to deliver the 4.1 million personalized letters to customers explaining their May 2020 bills – based on actual meter readings.” The delivery of the specified letters started on July 10 and set for completion on July 16.

These personal letters to consumers, Cusi noted, were “made even more laymanized than what (Meralco) issued for the June bills.”

In Meralco’s correspondence to the DOE, the energy chief emphasized that Espinosa also informed him of “the virtual agents” at its select Bayad Centers so they can serve customers better.

With these deployed personnel on virtual platforms, Cusi said “the affected customers can talk to a Meralco employee via computer set-up with regards to their billing concerns.”

And as further communicated to the Department of Energy (DOE), additional manpower had likewise been posted “to handle complaints in various digital channels such as emails, facebook and twitter.”

Following through on the last promise at a Senate energy committee hearing, Cusi relayed that Meralco also shouldered P12.6 million for the waived P47 convenience fee for online bill payments made by its customers. Essentially, that covered roughly 268,000 transactions.

Relative to the update-submission on the actions taken by Meralco, the energy chief intimated that the department is leaning on the company’s “assurance that they have been acting upon the various issues being raised by consumers.”

Cusi asserted that timely actions on consumer-complaints are warranted especially in this time of a pandemic — when the people are not just distressed by a health crisis, but they are also wading through tough economic survival.

“Our people are plagued with concerns about their health and safety, as well as their job and financial security. The government and private sector should work hand-in-hand to alleviate, and not add to their burdens,” he stressed.

Even until this point, the energy secretary disclosed that the department still receives complaints from consumers on the May-June bills of Meralco, thus, he reckoned that the update report from Meralco has been a “welcome development.”