It started at 12:30 Sunday morning when Butch and I woke up to darkness with the airconditioner turned off. Oh no a brownout! Peering down our bay window, I discovered that the rest of our neighborhood had lights in their homes. Maybe our circuit breaker tripped. No worries. I turned the main switch off then on. Nothing. No lights. Time to call MERALCO call center (16211) to rule out a problem with their power supply to our house. They arrived within an hour.
The MERALCO service guy removed our electric meter and showed us the smoking main line leading to our house. I didn’t need to see it. I could smell burnt rubber. They said they could do nothing about it since the problem is inside the house. To prove his point, he showed us the electric current coming from their line which was running fine. Great. Something is short-circuiting our main line. Luckily, we were able to sleep despite having no whirring electric fan to cool us.
Fortunately, our electrician arrived early the next day. He found the source of the short-circuit problem which was the main line leading from the electric meter to the wires just before the circuit breaker. That shouldn’t be a problem. We can replace it easily. Still puzzled, I could not figure out what would cause our main line to burn. Just then, a neighbor passed by “You have an electricity problem too?”
I nodded. The neighbor explained that we are the fourth house to have no power source. Hmm, sounds fishy. Minutes later, a MERALCO personnel passed by our house to ask if we noticed a wire dangling down our post (We are in a corner lot). The missing wire is a ground wire that protects the surge of power that goes through your electric meter. This information I gathered from my neighbor who used to be a MERALCO manager. It makes sense now. When the power resumed after a brownout, the surge probably overheated our main line causing the insulation to melt.
The plot thickens. The neighbors started to gather around our house saying that two weeks ago, they noticed a GLOBELINES contractor van along the road with men fixing the cables until late at night. Though we have no evidence to pinpoint the GLOBELINES contractor, it makes sense that whoever stole the neutral (ground) wire is someone who has access to a tall ladder. Working till 7:00 PM to fix their cable lines is terribly suspicious. No wonder, GLOBELINES replaced their contractor just recently. I was told by the repairman who fixed my internet connection that they were the new contractors.
Naturally after spending money on new wires and electrician fees, I didn’t want the incident to repeat. This is where I called my bitch powers to work for me.
Call Number 1
Me: Can you please send someone to check on our ground wires to make sure it is replaced?
Customer service: Maam, you have to report it to your branch office?
Me: Excuse, aren’t you customer service? Aren’t you the one in charge of customer complaints? Besides, it’s a holiday today. Your branch office is closed.
(The customer service like a robot repeatedly states that our electricity is restored. He sounded like a CD track on repeat. Geesh.)
Me: (exasperated) Stop repeating the same sentence. My concern is about the missing ground wire not my main line as I am fixing it at the moment.
Customer service: Maam, our senior agent will take your call.
The senior agent dutifully gives me a service report number where I can follow-up my complaint. Sure enough, the MERALCO arrives. He looks around and sees that our electricity is restored. The neighbors gather again outside bitching the same electrical woes.
Call Number 2
Me: May I know the progress of my report number xxxxxx?
Customer service: It has been restored.
Me: what has been restored?
Customer service: Your electricity.
Me: I did not report about my electricity. That is another report number. This report number xxxxx is regarding the missing ground wire.
I started to explain that even if our power was restored, I feared that the same problem would recur if the missing ground wire is not replaced soon.
Me: if my main line short-circuits again, I will hold you accountable for the damage.
The MERALCO guys just arrived an hour ago, inspected the post and verified indeed that the ground wire was missing. Finally, I get results.
So what’s the point of this rant?
1. MERALCO will not take action (i.e. replace the ground wire) if you don’t report the problem. They may note that there is a missing ground wire but it ends there. You have to be specific with your report. As a consumer, one needs to be vigilant about the safety of our electricity source.
2. Watch out for the cable guys and ISPs’ contractors who are tinkering with cable wires . Make sure they don’t steal the electric wires. Some of these workers are notorious for stealing wires and selling it off . Be suspicious if they work till after 6PM during darkness when one can’t see what they are doing anymore. Get their names and look at their identification cards.
3. It pays to be persistent. Who else will ensure the safety of your house if not yourself? As a consumer, it is our right to follow-up legitimate concerns. Fortunately, the MERALCO call centers can easily be reached and won’t hold you up for long in the queue.
It’s just sad that I, the consumer needed to turn on her bitch powers to get things done.