Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has called on power distributor Meralco to incentivize customers moving into online transactions instead of putting an additional fee.
Meralco initially waived the 47 peso-convenience fee during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) but the company recently announced that it will resume collecting the fee from consumers who wish to pay their bills online after Metro Manila and other cities started reopening payment and business centers.
“The 47 peso-convenience fee is a disincentive for consumers moving online. Why will Meralco resume collecting 47 pesos from every household when many of our ordinary kababayans have just returned to work trying to recover financial losses? This should not happen! The public has been inconvenienced enough,” said Gatchalian.
Meralco has earlier clarified that the fee does not go to its coffers and that payments go through a payment gateway operated and maintained by an online third-party service provider.
Because of this, Gatchalian urged the ERC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to look into the fees being charged by third-party service providers.
Even with the easing of community quarantine, Gatchalian pointed out that the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic remains and that many customers may still be unable to visit business centers due to limited transportation.
“Baka nakakalimutan ng Meralco na nandyan pa rin ang banta ng Covid-19 sa kalusugan ng bawat mamayan sa kabila ng pinaluwag na quarantine. Kaya nga natin sinusulong ang paggamit ng online platforms sa pagbayad ng mga bills ay upang hindi na lumabas ng bahay at makipagsapalaran sa mga bayad centers at iba pang establisyemento ang mga tao, pagkatapos ay pababayarin din pala sila ng dapat na pang serbisyo publiko na lang. Huwag nating pahintulutan ito,” the lawmaker said.
“We don’t want other distribution utilities to get an idea in coming up with a similar setup, to the detriment of power consumers. We don’t want to create undue stress to our consumers,” he added.