MERALCO'S PAYMENT OF P19M FINE WELCOMED
Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel has welcomed the Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) payment of the P19 million “bill shock” penalty earlier imposed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
“Meralco’s action demonstrates good corporate citizenship that should be emulated by all firms in highly regulated sectors, especially those enjoying exclusive congressional franchises,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel also said he expects Meralco to overhaul its “unfair” portal wherein customers paying their electricity bills online are automatically captured by sister firm Paymaya Philippines Inc., and then slapped a P47 “convenience fee” for the transaction.
Meralco has since suspended the convenience fee and has since refunded customers who previously paid the charge.
However, it remains unclear whether Meralco will eventually restore, or forever get rid of the convenience fee, once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Meralco was fined the P19 million last month for neglecting to clearly explain to customers that their monthly bills during the COVID-19 quarantine period were merely estimated, owing to the power distributor’s inability to send out meter readers.
As a result of Meralco’s lack of care, the ERC said customers received the unwanted surprise of large charges for the April 18 to May 17 billing cycle.
The penalty was also due to Meralco’s failure to comply with an ERC directive for the company to establish a mandatory bill installment payment plan for customers.
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