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The Philippine Art of Bill Presentment (Lifestyle)

A year ago last December 1 we rented a 2 br apartment in a large complex on V. Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu. We had PLDT set us up with a landline and broadband DSL. We have not received a bill by the end of January, so I called PLDT. By way of an answer, I received the motto of the Philippines: "Wait for awhile". I repeated the same experience at the end of February and at the end of March, with the same results.

In early April, our phone and internet service was summarily disconnected. I called PLDT again and they read me the riot act about not paying my bill. I asked when were the bills delivered. "Ahem, hmm, they were not. But you are still responsible for paying." It turns out that the PLDT installer has recorded the wrong address. I nearly lost my composure. I told the agent that in the civilized world if this happened, the company would make an attempt to contact me via email or phone or both and correct my address of record.

As an apology, the agent informed me that I will have to pay a P1,500 reconnection fee. I felt my blood pressure rising but kept my cool with intense effort. I told the agent that it is not good customer service practice to have the customer pay for the mistakes of the company and if they want their money and my continued patronage they will waive the reconnection fee and all other fees associated with the past due account. Finally, a supervisor has done just that, provided that I appear in person before the minions of the PLDT god and settle my bill in full.

I did that, on the very same day and lo and behold, my phone and internet connection was restored in a week.

We moved into our new house at the end of September. Being the forgiving kind, I had PLDT set us up with a landline and DSL I was onto their tricks, so I carefully monitored my account on PLDT's servers. Again, the installer has recorded the wrong installation address, he even got the Barangay wrong but he nailed the province spot on. I immediately notified PLDT ( -- the email is incorrect on their website, they omitted the .ph).

Within three short days I received a reply from Ms. Epifania Quinto stating "we have a policy that billing address should also be same as the physical address per advisory of our billing division". In reply I informed Ms. Quinto that the physical address and the billing address were the same and that both were incorrect on their records, as unbelievable as that may seem at first blush.

Ms. Quinto got back to me within three days to let me know that to change the physical address, "an ocular inspection is required" and that someone from PLDT will come out to verify our address. It only took me a few minutes to understand that she meant "visual inspection" and not inspecting my eyeballs.

Two weeks later we get a phone call from frustrated PLDT inspector lost in the woods of Talisay hills, trying to find us. I told him, "No wonder, you have the wrong address for us." I gave him directions -- we are a 5-minute walk from the Talisay PLDT office. An hour later he shows up and we discuss our correct address and affirm under oath that the house has not been moved.

Two months pass and we are still not getting the PLDT bills. I hack into their servers (you cannot do anything with a bill you see on the PLDT website, not print it, not copy it) and discover that our address has not been corrected. I sent Ms. Quinto another email, visually annotated where the address is wrong and how it should read. I am waiting for the excuse why it cannot possibly be changed.

This is not an isolated incident. We are not getting our water bill, either. We have not paid a centavo to MCWD but have been enjoying the occasional water service since the end of Sepember. I have had monthly communication with Mr. Edwin C. Correos, Manager of Public Relations at MCWD but we are still at the "Wait for awhile" stage. In his last missive Mr. Correos assured me that he will cause our meter to be read post haste and notify the Billing Division to bill us. My assertion that our meter has been read twice by MCWD personnel has fallen on deaf ears.

MCWD's billing database has no record of any invoice for our account number. I even searched by meter serial number and account name. Not a trace.

Wanna hear about VECO (Electric Co.) or Cignal (Satellite TV provider)? No, you probably don't. They cannot find us. We are in a subdivision of 48 homes located 120m off the Cebu South Road, a 140m from the VECO office. Not really the end of the earth. Their installers found us without any problem (I drew them all maps).

I find it unbelievable that in a society where everyone over the age of 3 days has a Facebook page, utility companies cannot deliver their bills to their customers. I practically begged them to send me their bill as a PDF via email but that is advanced technology beyond their reach.

Thank you for putting up with my rant. I feel better.