Jun 29, 2020

Here’s a new word to learn in quarantine: “bill shock.” It’s the feeling you get when you finally see your bills after months of deferred payment. But it’s more than just a surprise, it’s also bewilderment. Because despite utility service providers like Meralco’s best intentions and attempts to explain and justify their sky-rocketing charges, many people are left dumbfounded. 

No, Meralco, not everyone understands that formula you put up on your website. Nor do we really get why you had to make a YouTube ad to explain this surge.

And Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy committee,is confused, too after he himself received his latest billing amounting to eight times more than his monthly average bill. Yes, eight times. It’s nowhere near basketball star Doug Kramer’s bill, which amounted to P79,000 this month (!), but let’s focus on the multiplier here: eight times.

[READ: This is how Meralco will compute your electricity bill during the COVID-19 lockdown]

Gatchalian like many of us is confused so he’s summoning Meralco to appear before the Senate to explain why despite their promise just a month ago at the Joint Congressional Energy Commission they have failed to address customer concerns, especially over bill computation.

Posted by Meralco on Sunday, June 28, 2020

“I will send a letter to Meralco informing them that we are not satisfied with what they have done and that we’re not happy with how they explained the bill for the month of (May),” Gatchalian said in a radio interview.

Commenting on the public outrage, Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said they are only charging consumers for actual usage based on actual meter readings. But Gatchalian is not convinced—not that he can’t pay it, he said—citing the computation on Meralco’s website. 

“They even showed a formula. If you’re an ordinary citizen, you will find it very hard to comprehend. [Meralco] should… ‘laymanize’ the explanation. It’s important for people to understand what they are paying for. Otherwise, it’s like buying something you don’t even know,” Gatchalian told the Inquirer.

According to a Facebook post published Sunday night by Meralco, the probable reason behind the surge in billing is our prolonged stay at home at electricity usage over quarantine. They also assured consumers that previous billings from March to May have already been deducted and is outlined in your copy of the bill under “Applied credits.”

And based on the same advisory posted on YouTube, current bills can be paid in installments for four or six months depending on your February consumption at zero interest. This, Gatchalian suggested, should be automatically applied to succeeding bills.

Meralco, Sen. Gatchalian will see you now. Or when the Senate reopens.


Header photo screencap from Meralco Facebook page

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Read more:

This is how Meralco will compute your electricity bill during the COVID-19 lockdown

Meralco to refund customers for bills paid in excess during quarantine

Meralco under fire for alleged high billings for the month of May

TAGS: bill shock bill surge electric bill electricity Meralco meralco bill sen. sherwin gatchalian Senate