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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: THAT Meralco Bill

Meralco. I think the word inspires as much terror for me as the term COVID 19 does. When word got out that the recent Meralco bills of almost everyone I knew were way more than double of what they usually were, I already expected the worst when the meter reader came by to read our consumption. When the bill arrived, I was still shocked, but not altogether surprised.


Based on our bill, our consumption for the month of June was more than 2x our highest bill from last year. While it was explained in the bill that our previously paid past two months were deducted from the bill, it was still unusually high. I tried calling the hotline, contacting them via Twitter and Facebook but was not successful. I did, however, read the explanation from Meralco that when the temperatures are high, not only do we use more electricity but that the consumption is naturally higher because our appliances work harder during situations like that. They have also said on the news that they will send each customer a personalized letter explaining the bill shock. Not sure if I buy it, but does it matter? I could not reach anyone from Meralco who could help me with my concerns and lower my bill, plus they did say they will only explain the bill shock and not lower the bills…which meant that I am supposed to pay for it anyway.

As much as I wanted to go to the Meralco business office personally, I had heard that the lines were long and situated outside the building. There were too many people and there was a cut-off time when they literally send people away — not that I can blame them. I heard there are always way too many people and that social distancing is a challenge with the crowd. Given that kind of situation, I cannot risk going since I have health issues that make me susceptible to COVID 19. I am not going to gamble my life with this issue when I have heard that most of the people who complained were not able to resolve their problems and ended up paying the same amount anyway.


To be fair, I have heard of people who had managed to get their bills lowered. Someone sent a very nicely worded email and got her bill reduced. Another sent a photo of her meter taken the day the meter reader went to their home and got a bill deduction (Note to self and to everyone else: we probably need to do that from now on). I wish I was able to do the same but I couldn’t reach their email (it was bouncing back to my inbox for some reason), and I didn’t think of taking a photo of the meter until a couple of days after we got our bill, which was more than a week from the reading. 

Meralco has provided its customers with the option to pay via instalment. Unfortunately, this cannot be done online via the app: you need to go to the (already crowded) payment centers to do so. Again, something I do not have the option of doing given my health issues. I decided to pay online instead then request my credit card company to convert it to instalment. 

I was talking to a friend who commented that she regretted paying for her last two bills when they were averaged. She was concerned that she was paying more or twice as much because the consumption was again charged with the other fees even if this was already done with the averaged bills. Even with the payment deducted, how can we be sure the fees, which change from time to time, are the same? We cannot know for sure because the bills they produced during the period have been deleted from the app/online service.

There is nothing more I can do about it now. Nothing except to next time learn to take a photo of our meter on the day that the meter reader comes over (had to research and learn to read the meter for next time too). It goes without saying that we are more conscious now (as if we have not been already) of our electric consumption. 

If only I could afford to have solar power for our home...that really sounds like a particularly good (albeit a bit expensive) long-term solution to this problem right now. 

We will be getting our new bill in a few days. I am worried about what they will charge us this time. After that bill shock, I think everyone will be scared or worried about the next one.

Anyone else with Meralco bill stories to share?

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