Are you looking to file a complaint over your “overcharged” May and June Meralco bills? Here’s something to enlighten you.
Yesterday, the Manila Electric Company finally (Meralco) caved in and admitted that they may have overestimated the readings for the months they missed due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian grilled Meralco during a Senate energy committee hearing about the “billshock” experienced by many customers. He asked the company why the power distributed sent astronomically priced bills and how the company came up with such estimates.
According to Gatchalian, Meralco was vague about the “overestimation” it made in its bills. Last May, the company announced that it would estimate the March and April bills based on the average consumption from December to February.
He said that it was unclear whether or not the adjustments based on the actual readings were also factored in or added to the estimate, causing the amount to be paid to balloon.
“Nowhere in the bill said that you added the estimate kasi it’s very clear na wala yan sa bill. So where will I find out that there is an overestimation, kung in-add niyo yung overestimation?” Gatchalian asked.
“It’s very clear, estimate, wala naman nakalagay na estimated. Kaya ko binayaran ko kasi baka maputulan…My point of the matter is madaming ganitong cases na overestimation. Maraming ganitong cases, and without clear explanation that you embedded the estimates for March and April. People will think that this is the actual reading,” he added.
How to compute your Meralco bill
Victor Genuino, Meralco’s first vice president and head of consumer retail services and corporate communications, said the bill wasn’t “able to reflect where all of these additions to the estimated bills were in your previous consumption.”
Meanwhile, Meralco chief executive officer and president Ray Espinosa said that the power giant will send letters to the consumers to address the “problematic” readings for May.
“The May is the real problematic billing, I would say, I mean it has been demonstrated by [Senator Gatchalian] in his particular case with respect to his own Meralco bill that has really created the confusion.
“That is something that I want to be able to correct by issuing this more personalized letter to each customer to explain to them precisely how the consumption has been calculated, what their actual consumption was for the periods in question,” Espinosa said in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
‘Meralco 2020 pandemic complaints’
While some people were merely content with ranting on Facebook or Messaging the social media channels of the power distributor, some individuals took the fight for the right readings to the company itself.
A group of consumers even banded together in a Facebook group to help one another and share tips on how to dispute their Meralco bill.
The Facebook group, known as the Meralco 2020 Pandemic Bill Complaints Group, serves as an angry collective of consumers who will not take their bills lying down. As of writing, the group has almost 23,000 members—and the numbers keep on rising every day.
So what’s the purpose of the group? Upon looking at the posts by disgruntled Meralco consumers there, almost all of them are complaining about the sudden spike in their dues for the months of May and June.
Other angry consumers would then help them formulate a plan on how to dispute their May and June Meralco bills.
Some members also were calling others to sign an online petition demanding the return of Meralco to the government as a public entity. The company, which is currently led by Metro Pacific Investment Corporation president Manuel V. Pangilinan, is a publicly listed company.
Its biggest shareholders include Metro Pacific subsidiaries Beacon Electric Asset Holdings and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (combined ownership of 45.46 percent), the Gokongwei-owned JG Summit Holdings (29.56 percent), and Lopez’s First Philippine Holdings Corporation (3.94 percent).
How to dispute your Meralco bill
There have been allegedly successful attempts at disputing their Meralco bill and forcing the company to lower their amount due.
Although we will provide you the tips on how they did it, take these steps with a grain of salt and exercise restraint and politeness at all times.
If you’re interested on how to see how customers reportedly did it, here are some steps you can follow to report and file a complaint about your Meralco bill:
- Get a photo of your meter’s current billing (and do this as soon as possible)
- Prepare your previous billing statements, including the questionable Meralco May bill
- You may personally file a complaint at any of their branches—with social distancing guidelines followed, of course—and talk to a company representative to have your consumption recomputed (this can take hours)
- If you want to send an email instead, write a letter detailing your complaint to email@example.com and copy the Energy Regulatory Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Presidential Complaint Center (email@example.com) in your email
- Make sure that you include the following details if you’re messaging them:
- Your bills for May and June
- Your bills prior to the lockdown
- A photo of your meter’s current reading
- A statement requesting them to do a proper reading
- Your name, Meralco account number, and address
What if I’ve already paid my past Meralco bills?
If by any chance you were able to settle your March and April billing, we highly encourage you to still ask the power giant to give you a proper reading of your consumption.
If they find out that they’ve initially overcharged you based on their estimate, you can send a request to refund the amount you’ve paid in excess.
However, there’s another way to deal with an excess amount that can greatly help you in the months to come: Let the refund lapse into credit. Before you go ballistic, hear us out first.
Why should you just let the extra payment carry over yourupcoming bills? Since excess payments will reflect in your next bill, this can giveyour finances a little breathing room so you can prepare for expenses. Or youcan put aside the amount you were able to save due to overpayment. Either way,you’re a winner.
The Meralco overcharging issue is not just a simple issue of incorrectly giving their customers a bad reading of their consumption. With ridiculous amounts being charged to customers, affected Filipinos may experience a hard time scrounging for the money to pay their dues.
It’s messy and stressful and can cause unnecessary problems to consumers. So whether or not you’ve paid your bills already, exercise your vigilance and question billers who will incorrectly charge you with astronomical fees for services. That is how we win as one.
And should you join the clamor for the return of Meralco to the hands of the government? Unfortunately, government-owned and controlled corporations have a terrible track record in terms of service reliability. You go figure.