Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maynilad Water Chronicles: The Curious Case of the Disappearing Meter




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One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered these past few weeks is the inexplicable inefficiency of Maynilad Water. I don’t even know where to begin; this is how impossible the situation is. So I’ll go and separate things into multiple stories. This is the first case in this series.

maynilad meter locked

Not actual meter in either of our cases

In our first case study, we have a house with two separate meters. Both meter accounts have arrears, but one is more current than the other, therefore disconnection is less likely with meter A than it is with meter B.

Now, both meters had recently been changed, in part of Maynilad’s ongoing operation to upgrade their old and doddering water meters. The problem was, the only way Maynilad keeps track of who owns which meters was by listing down the meter numbers, and reconciling that with the account number.

In the case of the disappearing meter, the two new meters were side by side. For some reason, the contractor hired by Maynilad to oversee the installation was unable to provide the owners of the two meters with their respective meter numbers. To make matters worse, both of the accounts were never reconciled with the meter number – meaning that the two accounts were virtually nonexistent.

Since Maynilad had no way of keeping track of the two meters and their respective accounts, the inevitable happened. Meter B’s account went over the approved arrears limit (how that happened, since they could not keep track of consumption, I have no idea). So the account was put on the disconnection list.

However, since there was no way of keeping track of which meter was connected to which account, the away team sent by the contractor (again, a contractor) for disconnecting the account ended up disconnecting Meter A, whereas the account number and account name on the disconnection notice was Meter B.

After much ado over at the zone branch of Maynilad, the following things were discovered:

Firstly, that Maynilad only had the old meter numbers listed on the accounts. Since this was the case, Maynilad would only print out the old meter number on the billing statements they would send out every month. So unless the contractor gave the people at the address where the meters were located a piece of paper with their new meter number, there was no way anybody knew whose meter was his.

Secondly – and this was belatedly discovered when an away team replacing meters in the nearby area was interviewed – it turns out that it was not the contractors’ duty to inform the owners of the accounts what their new meter numbers were. It was only their job to take note of the old meter number and the current consumption amount; change the meter with the new meter; and take note of the new meter number; and then report back to the business office. It was Maynilad’s responsibility (according to these contractors) to ensure that the account holders were properly informed of their new meter numbers.

So what gives? Who is supposed to let the users know all about what changes are happening to their accounts? In terms of accountability, it seems as if Maynilad is washing their hands off the matter, as will be made more poignant in my next post.

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