It took about a week before we got the tech's response in letter form. The letter was basically "complaint was interchanged meters, no interchange found. Complaint satisfied."
Ooooh... whoah there, slow the horses. Complaint satisfied? First of all how is that even a legitimate statement to make? Secondly *I*, the customer and complaintant, am most decidedly NOT satisfied.
So of course I called Meralco customer service and had another gripe fest. Since this is the 5th time I've called about the same problem they gave me the email addresses of all the management of Meralco (woohoo!) so I got to write this lovely little gem of a letter directly to upper management and CCs all over the place:
Good morning Sirs and Ma'am,
I am writing you email today based on a long string of problems with your company. Teresa, I have spoken to you in the past via phone and my complaint is NOT with you, you were very polite and professional.
My complaint is that I have called multiple times with the same issue since May and until now I have no satisfactory response, no explanation regarding the billing irregularity and quite possibly the worst technical/repair service that I have received in my life (and that is spanning a total of 10 different residences in three countries) and now I've received a disconnection notice with absolutely no resolution of my billing/service complaint.
Before I begin let me provide my bill details so that you can look at the account and understand what the complaint is.
The billing is in my landlady's name and is listed as #######
The service ID number is ##########
We moved into this apartment in April of 2009. From the time we have moved in until this problem began we have always made our best efforts to pay on time and in full. We have held two previous residences in the metro Manila area and since my wife is very picky about paying bills on time the same applies in those locations as well. In the previous residences I had no complaints regarding Meralco service and speed/efficiency in dealing with any service problems.
In this location, however, it seems an ongoing nightmare. The Customer service reps that I talk to are kind, polite and courteous and lead me to believe that the problem will be solved. The technicians that are dispatched to address the problems seem to be lazy about their jobs and refuse to do more than one simple test before leaving.
The last time a technician came he spent a total of 15 minutes at our location, 10 minutes of that spent doing a single test (poorly done and more on that later) then left saying "no problem".
For your reference in consumption capacity we own the following:
PC with flat panel monitor (connected to Power Regulation box) [NOTE: This is required to ensure minimum power consumption, it chokes the overall wattage of the PC, monitor, speakers and DSL modem to a total of 150watts]
medium sized refrigerator (serviced about a year ago, new compressor with better energy efficiency rating)
evaporative air cooler (medium size)
three fans (NOTE at no time are the fans AND the air cooler on at the same time)
4 X 5 watt high efficiency fluorescent lights.
Electric bottle steamer
Oven toaster (used 1-2 times a week)
That's it. No aircon, no TV, no stereo.
Here is the problem:
A year ago there was a spike in our usage for no explainable reason; I called and asked for the meter to be checked and it was, I happened to be home on that particular day and watched the testing. I was not satisfied that our usage was being read properly but I decided to let it go since the power use was not incredibly higher than what we had used in the past at another residence. I also guessed that perhaps my change in working at home rather than going to the office had something to do with it, so I accepted the meter calibration and went on with my life.
In January of this year I started reporting to an office again and expected to see the power consumption reduce, in February it did and then as I watched in March it dropped WAY down then in April it was about 70KWH for the whole month; that was my first clue that something was wrong and I notified the maintenance of our apartment as well as the apartment manager they claim to have checked the wiring from the main breaker box to our apartment and verified that 401 was connected to 401. I say claimed because I was at work and my wife says they did not enter the apartment so I'm not sure how they tested.
May's bill was nothing. 6 pesos. I knew something was VERY WRONG so I called the general Meralco customer service; the operator said that maybe it was a mistake and that I should wait for my next bill to see. I didn't like his answer because it indicated that there was a problem but that Meralco was unwilling/incapable of addressing it until a new bill came.
June's bill arrived with over 270KWH of consumption; more power than we are realistically capable of consuming in one month and more power than we have EVER consumed even at our home in Pasig where we *DID* have a large screen TV with DVD player and I was working out of the home. I knew something was SERIOUSLY wrong. I called customer service and, once again, a team was sent to calibrate the meter (in spite of my protests that it had only been done a year prior). My wife was home and I was at work, she tried to get the technician to test and verify that the meter was connected to our apartment, he refused and said that he was not allowed to do so. He did however, come into the apartment and looked at our appliances and informed my wife that something must be wrong because we couldn't be using over 270KWH in one month with our electrical appliances. He said that perhaps the meter reader made a mistake in previous months and was making up for it on the current bill. This is an unacceptable explanation.. a very lazy explanation. Please tell me that meralco's policy is NOT to punish customers for a mistake made by Meralco employees.
July's bill arrived with the same consumption and once again I called in a complaint. Our power consumption cannot be that high!
I called the complaint on July 11th, it wasn't until August 3rd that a technician arrived to our home. Again I was at work and once again the tech arrived without any phone call in advance in spite of my providing the home phone and our cell phones to customer service. The technician arrived at 2:15 in the afternoon, turned off our circuit breaker and watched for only 10 minutes to see any movement on our meter. That was the extent of his test after waiting for three weeks he spends a total of 15 minutes at our location and once again failed to address the problem, focusing only on a single test. This is a test that we have done ourselves and we HAVE witnessed consumption. In fact we left for the entire day once and shut off everything in the apartment, disconnecting the power entirely. When we returned after being gone for a day and a half there was a consumption of nearly 70KWH! The building manager has kept an eye on this as well and he cited a time when we were home, lights on and all that, he checked the meter and it showed ZERO consumption.
Note that the power began dropping as the school semester drew to a close and then shot back up about the time that all students were back in school. I believe that the meter is connected to one of the apartments here that is housing students (rooms for rent) and that is why the tech saw no consumption at 2:15 in the afternoon (when nearly everyone is out of the apartments here anyway).
Something must be done. I cannot tolerate this any further and I have been saying that I would not pay anything until it is resolved.
However, that is unfair. I *HAVE* been using power so I do owe SOMETHING.
I will make a payment on Monday evening at the Bayad Center that I pass on the way home from work as a gesture of good faith that you will work this problem out.
Please contact me with your proposed resolution.
TL;DR - Power is inconsistant and impossible and Meralco techs are idiots, I agree to pay part of outstanding bill and ball is in Meralco management's court.
EDIT/UPDATE: This morning at 7:30am I went to one of the Meralco business offices to pay. I couldn't go to the Bayad centers as I'd planned since they are now only open from 10am to 5pm while I (and most people) work from 9am to 6pm. I was not allowed to pay P3,000. They informed me that I could either pay the current bill (P2,860) or the total amount due (almost P9,000) but nothing else. Idiotic policy but I paid the current bill and left it at that. I then had a long conversation with the head of customer service for the area (I went to the office in an adjacent city since the one that actually services me is 1-Too far out of the way and 2-has been impotent in fixing the problem so far). I went over everything and showed her my statements expressing not only my utter frustration but the solid evidence printed by them on the statements that there was clearly a problem. Hopefully something will get done now. She asked me why nobody has done a complete line trace and I said "I DON'T KNOW!!! That's what I've been asking them to do since MAY!" To which she informed me that it should have been the FIRST test done since we complained in May about having ZERO consumption billed and "nobody complains about getting charged for less than they used so I believe you."