After getting scorched by netizens for its sky-high electricity charges in its May bills during the enhanced community quarantine, Meralco was asked by regulators to explain why it was charging P47 for every bill paid through its own app, when it should have been free.
Meralco wrote to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi Wednesday, explaining that the convenience fee was needed to cover the expenses of using a payment gateway so they could accept debit and credit card payments, as well as e-wallet transfers.
Here’s the catch: the payment gateway is maintained by PayMaya, another company ran by bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan.
“No part of the convenience fee goes to Meralco. The charging of a convenience fee by a payment gateway provider like PayMaya is a common commercial practice in the online payment service industry,” Meralco said in its letter to Cusi.
Other payment channels charge some fee for e-payments, but definitely lower than P47.
To get on Cusi’s good graces, Meralco president and CEO Ray Espinosa said the company has decided to refund the convenience fee charged during the ECQ period of March 16 to May 15 and shoulder the expenses, “considering that the MERALCO Business Offices and Bayad Center branches and partner outlets were closed during that time.”
Espinosa apologized for slapping the fees and said the company would be “more sensitive” in the future and be “more mindful” of the interest and well-being of its customers.