Pre-paid meter users cry foul

Zesa’s migration from the old electricity meter billing system to pre-paid technology is again under spotlight, with customers crying foul over lack of transparency in a system they believe exposes them to unexplained payments.
Indications are that the “unexplained” debits are related to debts customers owed before they were switched to pre-paid metering.
A survey by The Sunday Mail at Zesa offices in Harare over the past two weeks revealed that many customers were complaining that they were being subjected to irregular pre-payment tariff charges, which has seen them getting fewer electricity units than they would have paid for.

A customer services official said the challenges were due to billing problems in the first days of pre-paid metering.
“Initially, pre-paid meters were rolled out to people who owed us and each time they purchased electricity units, a certain percent of their money was channelled towards servicing the debt,” said the employee.

“However, there was a problem with the pre-paid system for some customers and they were not being debited. What is happening now is that we have rectified the problem hence the debt is appearing again.”

According to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company, consumers owe Zesa over US$800 million.
Harare resident Elson Mhindu said: “I need these guys to explain to me why all of a sudden I am having money deducted from my pre-paid account each time I purchase electricity units.

“Last month I bought electricity units for US$30, but US$5 was debited from that amount supposedly to service a debt that I am not aware of.

“If 100 000 customers are in the same situation as mine then Zesa is taking half-a-million.”
One woman complained that in the past five months she had received differing electricity units for the same amount of money paid.
“I have sought an explanation, but they keep referring me from one office to another.”

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