Tuesday, July 11, 2006

11 June 2006

Ms. Emilinda Tomboc
Branch Head
Mandaluyong Branch

This is to formally lodge a complaint (in writing) about the electrical billings for service ID# 497778801-7 with contract under the name of Salvador P. Velasco for service address 525-E M. Gonzaga St. Bgy. Hagdang Bato Itaas Mandaluyong City.

WHEREAS, the first complaint was made by my mother for billing period 03/13/2006 to 04/11/2006 with an amount of P6,663.80. This is UNUSUALLY HIGH as our usual electrical consumption would be AT MOST around 171 kwh or P1,459.45 (as per bill date 03/13/2006). The only high consumption that COULD BE ACCOUNTED FOR was for bill date 01/11/2006 where meter registered 333 kwh amounting to P2,946.90. During this billing period, a baby entered into our household and AIRCONDITIONING was used during SLEEPTIMES from the evening until the morning. But still, I re-iterate the bill only amounted to P2,946.90. (Please refer to Attachment B - Billing History for illustration purposes.)

After this billing was settled, we advised against the use of airconditioning in the household as WE CANNOT AFFORD to further incur ADDITIONAL EXPENSES. Hence, for the following 2 billing periods our consumption went back DOWN with P1,369.45 and P1,459.45 or bill dates 02/11/2006 and 03/13/2006 respectively.

WHEREAS, the UNUSUAL SPIKE started for billing period 03/13/2006 to 04/11/2006 where the meter registered 668 kwh amounting to P6,663.80. AIRCONDITIONING was admittedly used for this billing period for the baby's evening to morning sleeptime; hence we were EXPECTING another bill of around P3,000. But much to our surprise our bill went up to almost P7,000. Because of this my mother went to Meralco Mandaluyong (Shaw Blvd) Branch Office to file the FIRST COMPLAINT and was told that the matter will be investigated upon and was advised to NOT YET PAY the P6,663.80 bill.

WHEREAS, sometime in May our meter (# 33SYN90782) was REPLACED by a new one (# 33UZN12058). Then for the succeeding billing period 04/11/2006 to 05/12/2006 the new meter registered 59 kwh amounting to P312.15 only which was due 05/25/2006. A disconnection notice dated 05/27/2006 came for the P312.15 bill which was paid on 06/02/2006. Noticeably, the previous unpaid amount of P6,663.80 did not appear in this notice presumably because of the investigation.

WHEREAS, a letter dated June 7, 2006 from Meralco was delivered to our house stating that the old meter (# 33SYN90782) is "properly registering the actual consumption" and hence the bill of P6,663.80 shall be up for collection.

WHEREAS, billing statement for period 05/12/2006 to 06/12/2006 then arrived amounting to P6,012.55 (new meter registered 599 kwh). The disconnection notice dated 06/22/2006 came stating the 2 unpaid bills amounting to a total of P12,676.35 demanding payment on/before 06/27/2006. Sometime around 06/23/2006 my mother went back to the Meralco office to once again complain about the UNUSUALLY HIGH electrical bills. The REASON for the complaint? While the previous bill of P6,663.80 could "partially" be attributed to the use of airconditioning, this time around there was DEFINITELY NO MORE USE OF AIRCONDITIONING for the entire billing period. The ARGUMENT is this:

Billing PeriodCommentAmount Due
12/12/2006 to 01/11/2006W/ AIRCONP2,946.90 ***
03/13/2006 to 04/11/2006W/ AIRCONP6,663.80 ???
04/11/2006 to 05/12/2006W/O AIRCONP 312.15
05/12/2006 to 06/12/2006W/O AIRCONP6,012.55

Suppose we are to accept (bitterly) that the P6663.80 bill was "actual consumption". Are we saying here that the actual AIRCONDITIONING COST is just P651.25 (P6,663.80 - P6,012.55) ?? We find this HIGHLY ILLOGICAL considering that as per "investigation" report, the old meter is "properly registering actual consumption" (I suppose as well as the new one).

This is ONE ARGUMENT that upto now no report coming from the Meralcor office has properly addressed! All we got are the usual, "we find no fault at our side" kind of reports. Sorry to be a bit sarcastic here, but can we please have a more thorough explanation of our complaints?

I believe my mother approached a Ms. Sanvictores at the Mandaluyong branch office and was advised that we have to (inevitably) pay the P6,663.80. As the issue is already getting to my mother's nerves, I already stepped in to handle the matter. I went to Meralco office last June 28 to once again discuss about the problem with a customer service representative. We discussed about the above matters as the CS rep checked via CMS (Customer Management System?) regarding the bills, replaced meter, disconnection notices, etc. In the end I was also advised to pay the P6,663.80 as it was due for disconnection by end of the week. I remember even inquiring about the current reading as I was worried that another P6K or so bill would come our way (as it would REALLY be difficult for us to find the means to pay them!). The CS rep tried to calm me down by saying investigation is underway and just wait for the result and for the meantime pay the P6,663.80 bill. So I BORROWED the amount from my sister (not residing with us) and paid the amount on July 1, 2006.

WHEREAS, as we were waiting for the "investigation" results for the P6,012.55 bill, we received a disconnection notice for such on July 7, 2006. So I was wondering why such came IF the matter was REALLY under investigation. This got me curious and I tried logging in to the meralco website and found an online account facility for customers which I registered in.

From the online facility I captured the following info as attachments to this letter:

Attachment A - Account Details.

Attachment B - Billing History. Captures the Billing History with Consumption Graph. Please see complaints/comments about the billing info contained therein.

Attachment C - Complaint Details. The funny thing here is that I paid the previous P6,663.80 bill last JULY 1 as I was told by the CS rep last June 28 that the P6,012.55 bill is STILL PENDING INVESTIGATION, so how come the online entry states the complaint was RESOLVED on June 26 and IN PERSON???

WHEREAS, a letter dated July 6, 2006 from Meralco was delivered to our house stating the following regarding our complaint about the June 2006 bill:

"Allow us to explain that the billing is based from the actual registration of your meter No. 33UZN12058. We checked the reading of your meter on June 27, 2006 and the findings confirmed the correctness of the reading taken on June 12.

As we found no error in the meter reading, and find our billing rendered to your account correct and in order, we shall therefore pursue the collection of the bill as it is."

The funny thing here is that a Disconnection Notice is delivered for a billing amount that is still under investigation with the "Investigation" Report being issued a day later.

BOTTOMLINE, what we need from Meralco's good office is a more thorough investigation as to how the electrical consumptions jumped from the usual P1,4xx range to the very high P6xxx range. I recall even asking the CS rep last June 28 if it were possible to investigate (correlate) our apartment neighbors electrical consumptions if there are corresponding DROPS in their usual monthly charges as opposed to our HIKES. This of course Meralco will do out of our view. This is meant to confirm or rule out the possibility of power line tapping. If this possibility is ruled out then we can move on to other possibilities. I believe this should be one way to get to the bottom of the problem.

PLEASE help us investigate as we CANNOT AFFORD to keep paying such high electrical bills. Also, we cannot just BLINDLY pay something that we may not even be consuming. A family friend even commented that our bill is way too high since their electrical consumption is around P7K but regularly using 2 AIRCONDITIONING units & about 3 computers. We don't have such and we even use LPG for cooking. So we are left clueless here.

I tried reading the meter today and if I got the dials right, currently it is now 1150 so minus the June 12 reading of 660 that would be 490 kwh which should also be in the league of the P6K bills. I hope I got the reading wrong.

Yours truly,

Roberto M. Francisco