Saturday, September 22, 2018

Puerto Rico ombudswoman: Object bills for utility services not received

By on January 12, 2018

SAN JUAN – Ombudswoman Iris Miriam Ruiz Class insisted on Friday that every citizen dissatisfied with the billing of their water or electricity, should object their bill

Ruiz Class asserted that any process to reimburse citizens and protect their rights begins with the procedure to object charges for service not received by requesting a formal investigation into the matter.

“I have to insist that if you did not receive power or water service, you do not have to pay for it. But you must object to the bill,” the official stated in a press release.

She pointed out that “although the media has been an ally in denouncing the situations” that customers go through, if the latter do not go to the utility to protest their bills or request help from the Ombudsman’s Office, payment could be required.

The citizens’ advocate said her office intervenes to help customers and guide them in the procedures to follow. The office says it processes claims with designated facilitators for each utility to expedite pending cases.

She also indicated that in most claims, her office intervenes so either the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) or the Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) validates the claims presented.

Puerto Rico power utility customers assured service despite billing issue

“Everything begins by going to [Prepa or Prasa] and protesting the bill. By completing this process, we can find the right solution [to meet] citizen demands,” Ruiz Class said.

In addition, she emphatically pointed out that although the public corporations have metrics and equipment to bill properly, customers are the ones who know whether they had service and for how long, as well as what their typical consumption is. The ombudswoman urged people to hold on to the money they usually budget to pay for these services–in case, after an investigation is completed, the charges are real/confirmed and due for payment.

After the passage of Hurricane Maria, the advocate’s office said, subscribers should be able to detail their case regarding service to help achieve a satisfactory solution to their claims.

“Each case is particular and personal. Citizens’ collaboration protects their own interests. Go and object charges for service not received and I assure you the Ombudsman’s [Office] will assist you,” she concluded.

Prepa customers have complained that objecting to their bill online is not possible. After filling out the form online, a window pops up saying the utility is performing maintenance on its site, which impedes the process and requires calling Prepa by phone.

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