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ERC Consumer Affairs

tel.nos. 687-5544 • 636-3318 • 687-5557

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• 636-3318 • 687-5557 Meralco Call Center tel.no. 16211 Prepared by Customer Process Management, Utility Economics,

Prepared by Customer Process Management, Utility Economics, Marketing and Corporate Communication November 2005

A Primer on Customer Service Processes

under the

MAGNA CARTA

for Residential Electricity Consumers

November 2005 A Primer on Customer Service Processes under the MAGNA CARTA for Residential Electricity Consumers

What happens if a customer commits an illegal use of electricity?

A consumer who is discovered to have committed the offense

of illegal use of electricity will, in addition to the imposition of appropriate penal sanction, be required to pay a differential billing

to the electric utility, to be computed in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations.-Chapter III, Article 35.

What is differential billing?

It refers to the amount charged to the consumer for the unbilled

electricity illegally consumed as determined by methods prescribed

by law.

It is determined by multiplying the unbilled consumption in kWh,

the period covered and the current rate or price of electricity at the time of discovery of the illegal use. The utility is allowed to recover the differential billing up to a maximum of sixty (60) billing months.

-Chapter III, Article 35.

You may contact our Call Center hotline at 16211 or any Meralco branch for any concern on the Magna Carta.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

for any concern on the Magna Carta. 12 T ABLE OF CONTENTS I. Introduction II. Application

I. Introduction

II. Application for Service

A. Contract of Service

B. After Sales Service

III. Billing

IV. Payments

V. Service Irregularity

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I.

INTRODUCTION

I. INTRODUCTION A primer on the MAGNA CARTA FOR RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS The Magna Carta for

A primer on the MAGNA CARTA FOR RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS

The Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers (to be referred to as “Magna Carta” or “the Code”) is a compilation of rights and obligations of residential customers. It is an easy reference for consumers that summarizes existing laws and rules and regulations of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the quasi-judicial body that regulates the electric industry.

Who are covered by this new Code?

The Code in its present form, is applicable only to residential electricity customers. All 139 distribution utilities nationwide, including Meralco, have to follow its provisions.

When did the Code take effect?

When one of the permanent occupants of the premises is sick and dependent on a life-support system requiring electricity, disconnection may be suspended for a maximum of two (2) months. You should present a medical certificate certifying that the termination of the electric service would be dangerous to the health of the person.

Disconnection can also be suspended for no more than thirty (30) days during a funeral wake of a deceased permanent resident

of the premises. -Chapter II, Article 20

How soon will my service be reconnected after paying my bill?

If your service was disconnected due to non-payment of electric bills, your service must be reconnected within twenty-four (24) hours after you have paid any arrears and the applicable reconnection

fee. -Chapter II, Article 23

V. ILLEGAL USE OF ELECTRICITY

fee. - Chapter II, Article 23 V. ILLEGAL USE OF ELECTRICITY What constitutes an illegal use

What constitutes an illegal use of electricity?

Any form of theft or tampering of the electric meter and/or metering facilities is considered illegal. The following instances are illegal uses of electricity:

The Code took effect on July 19, 2004, while the guidelines to implement were released in November 26, 2004.

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Any form of tampering or damage to the electric meter, the meter seal, the metering device box and other metering facility;

What does the Code cover?

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The deliberate placing of foreign objects that could result

The Code covers customer service processes.

in the meter’s inaccuracy; and

Is this a new set of rules?

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The use of wiring connection or any other electrical device which may affect the normal operation or registration of the

Some provisions are new but most of its other provisions were

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electric meter.-Chapter III, Article 34

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Note: These are payment partners as of November 2005. For an updated list, visit our website at www.meralco.com.ph or call our Call Center hotline 16211 or any Meralco branch.

What is a good payer and is there any incentive for being a good payer?

A good payer pays his bills on or before the due date. As a

good payer, you will not receive a disconnection notice, you will not

get disconnected and you will acquire a good credit standing.

If you become a good payer for three (3) consecutive years,

you can demand for the full refund of your bill deposit even before your service contract is terminated. One way to ensure that you can establish a good credit rating is to avail of the automatic debit arrangement (ADA) or auto-charge payment options.-Chapter,

Article 7

What happens if I don’t pay my bills on time?

If your bill is unpaid after the due date, you will receive a

disconnection notice forty-eight (48) hours before the disconnection.

To avoid disconnection, settle the account at the nearest branch office within the period specified on the notice. Always bring the current bill when paying.

The electric utility is not allowed to disconnect your electric

(3:00 p.m.) in the

afternoon, Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays.-Chapter II,

Article 19 & 20

service on any weekday after three o’ clock

Under what special circumstances can my disconnection be suspended?

For residential customers, Magna Carta specifies special circumstances to suspend disconnection of your service.

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taken from existing laws and regulatory orders of ERC.

What are the highlights of the customers’ rights under the new Code?

Within the first year of implementation (2004 to 2005), existing and new customers will begin to enjoy these rights under the new Code:

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Applicants for service will now be exempted from paying meter deposit. Existing customers who paid a meter deposit before the Code took effect will be refunded the amount based on the schedule prescribed by ERC.

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Customers may receive a refund of the bill deposit after maintaining a consistent and consecutive 3-year good payment record starting November 2004.

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Interest on deposits will be credited yearly to the bills of the registered customer.

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The billing period is now defined as time in between two (2) meter readings. This time or billing cycle is at least 28 days and not exceeding 31 days.

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Customers have a right to one (1) free meter test once every two years.

What are the highlights of the customers’ obligations under the new Code?

The Code also balances the interest of the utility company by defining the customers’ obligation:

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Bill deposits must be updated annually to approximate current electricity consumption.

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Customers must pay their bills before due date to avoid inconvenience of disconnection.

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Illegal use of electricity will be subject to penal sanction and payment of differential billing

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In summary, the Code was created to ensure the continuous supply of electricity and the convenience it brings customers provided that they meet their obligations with the distribution utility serving them.

II. SERVICE APPLICATION

distribution utility serving them. II. SERVICE APPLICATION What are the deposits that have to be paid?

What are the deposits that have to be paid?

Under the Code, you will pay a bill deposit which is equivalent to an estimated month’s bill if you are applying for a new or an additional service to guarantee monthly bill payment. -Chapter I,

Article 2

What else do I have to pay when applying for electric service?

Aside from the required bill deposit, if electric facilities have to

be extended, you may have to initially fund through cash advance the necessary expenditures to extend distribution facilities. The branch office personnel will inform you of the procedures for the cash advance, if needed,in your application. -Chapter II, Article 14

Chapter III, Article 28.

Where should the meter be installed?

You have the right to a meter installed in a place that is clean, free of vibration and easily accessible and visible for reading and testing by both you and the distribution utility representatives. Meters should not be located behind doors or where they can be easily

damaged.- Chapter II, Article 11

In what cases do I have to relocate my meter?

For your benefit and to ensure accuracy of meter reading, you may request the branch to relocate your meter in cases such as

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branches, extension offices, payment offices or through any of our accredited collection partners.

Non-OTC: You can also pay through automatic debit arrangement (ADA), credit cards, Automated Teller Machines (ATM), phone banking, Short Messaging Service (SMS) and internet of accredited banks and institutions.

Where else can I pay other than at Meralco Offices?

For over-the-counter (OTC) payments, Meralco has partnered with Bayad Center and ten (10) commercial banks: Equitable PCI, Banco de Oro, Union Bank, Chinabank, BPI, RCBC, Planters Bank, East West Bank, Equitable Savings, and Robinson’s Savings.

Payment through the internet can be made at BPI, Equitable PCI, UCPB, PNB, and selected Bancnet-member banks. Phonebanking payments can be made through BPI, Equitable PCI, HSBC, UCPB and PNB. ATM payments can be made through BPI, UCPB, Union Bank, PNB and selected Bancnet-member banks.

For customers who want convenience and guaranteed-no- disconnection hassles, automatic debit arrangement (ADA) and automatic charging through credit cards are recommended. Meralco’s accredited ADA partners include Union Bank, BPI, Allied Bank, Banco de Oro, Equitable PCI, UCPB and Standard Chartered. Among our credit card partners are Citibank, AIG, Standard Chartered, Equitable Card Network, Diner’s Club and Security Bank Mastercard.

SMS payments can now be made through Globe’s G-Cash.

Home Mastercard, a new co-branded card, with Banco de Oro

is also available for payments through credit card.

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How will I be billed if my meter is found defective?

If your meter is found to be defective, the electric utility is allowed to recover the full amount of the unregistered consumption provided it has complied with the two-year meter testing requirement.

However, the recovery period should not go beyond the period from the last testing of the meter and should not exceed two (2) years.

In cases where there is actual meter stoppage or any conspicuos meter defect, the utility is allowed to recover unregistered consumption for a maximum of three (3) months prior to discovery of the stoppage. When the meter has not stopped but has defects which are not easily detected, the maximum recovery period is six (6) months prior to discovery of the defect.

Computation of the adjustment resulting from a defective meter will be based on the applicable rate during the affected period. -

Chapter III, Article 33

Should I allow your personnel to enter my premises?

Yes, the electric utility’s employees should be allowed to enter your premises to install, read, test, inspect, maintain or replace your electric meter. These employees are authorized by the utility as shown in their identification cards.-Chapter III, Article 29

IV. PAYMENTS

identification cards.- Chapter III, Article 29 IV. PAYMENTS When should I pay my bill? You have

When should I pay my bill?

You have nine (9) days to pay your electric bill after receipt.-

Chapter III, Article 32

How can I pay my Meralco bill?

Over-the-counter (OTC): You can pay your bill at Meralco

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the following:

1)

The meter is not accessible for reading or testing.; and

2)

Improvements or renovations to the residence will make the meter inaccessible

What will happen to the meter deposit I paid before the Code took effect?

You will be refunded for the meter deposit you paid and the interests it earned as long as your account is in good standing (no unpaid bills) following the schedule set by ERC.

A. CONTRACT OF SERVICE

Who is a registered customer?

It is the customer who has a valid service contract with the electric utility, specifically the signatory of the valid service contract

with Meralco.-Chapter I, Article 2

If I am a tenant, can I be the registered customer?

Yes, provided that a signed and notarized undertaking between you, the tenant, and the owner of the premises is submitted to the Meralco branch office. -Chapter II, Article 6

What is an undertaking?

It is a legal document that binds the owner of the premises jointly and severally liable with the tenant/registered customer for any unpaid bills incurred by the latter after leaving the premises, in the absence of or insufficiency of the bill deposit.-Chapter II, Article 6

B. AFTER SALES SERVICES

When can I request for the refund of my bill deposit?

The bill deposit will be refunded within one (1) month from the

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termination of service, provided all the bills have been paid.

Starting November 2004, all existing active and new services

are entitled to a full refund of the bill deposit even before the electric

service is terminated. Should you accumulate thirty six (36)

consecutive months or three (3) consecutive years of good payment

record (i.e., you paid your bills on or before due date) and you have

no service violations, you can file an application for bill deposit refund

at a Meralco branch office. You will be refunded within one (1) month

after Meralco receives your application. - Chapter II, Article 7

What if I was already refunded my bill deposit but I later defaulted in paying my succeeding monthly bills?

You will be required to post another bill deposit which you can

only refund upon termination of electric service -Chapter III, Article 28

How many times can I request for a meter test?

You are entitled to one (1) free meter test once every two years.

Upon request, the distribution utility will test the accuracy of the

meter installed in your premises using a meter standard duly tested

and sealed by the ERC.

If you request for meter testing more than once every two years

and your meter is tested okay, you will pay a testing fee as prescribed

by the ERC. - Chapter II, Article 12

Who will shoulder the replacement cost if the meter is stolen or broken?

If you damage or lose the electric meter, you will pay the

replacement cost of the meter. - Chapter II, Article 8

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III. BILLING

cost of the meter. - Chapter II, Article 8 6 III. BILLING When do I get

When do I get my electric bill?

Your electric bill covering a period

of 28 to 31 days will be

delivered every month to your billing address.-Chapter II, Article

17; Chapter I, Article 2 (h)

What happens if the period covered in my electric bill exceeds 31 days?

If the period covered in your electric bill exceeds 31 days, you are still entitled to the subsidy corresponding to your consumption

level . -Chapter II, Article 17

What is my right as a consumer when filing a complaint?

You are entitled to prompt and speedy resolution of complaints. Furthermore, you should receive feedback on the action/s taken on your complaint within fifteen (15) days after receiving the

complaint.-Chapter II, Article 13

In case of billing complaints, do I have to pay the bill in question?

You have the right to pay the bill under protest. Such payment will not be taken as an indication that you agree with the accuracy

of the bill.-Chapter II, Article 26

What do I do if I think that my electric bills is erroneous?

You can file a complaint at the Meralco Call Center at 16211 or at the nearest branch office. Your complaint will be recorded and acted on immediately.

If your electric bill is confirmed to be erroneous, you will receive

a corrected bill.-Chapter II, Article 13

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