A Bothasig senior says he is out of pocket by nearly R10 000 after paying Eskom in desperation to switch his electricity supply back on.
Last month, Greg J de Castro and his family spent three days in the dark after Eskom cut his power without any warning, he said.
He said it was on Wednesday morning June 17, just after 9am, that the electricity went off. After spending hours to get through to Eskom’s customer service he was told his account was in arrears by R8 634 and that he would have to fork out a further R976 to have it reconnected. Eskom, he said, claimed to have sent him an SMS about the impending disconnection but he insists he received none.
“That is not something I would have ignored,” he said.
“My wife and I were horrified but out of pure desperation and circumstances we immediately paid and sent proof of payment.”
Mr Castro, his wife and son, who have been working remotely from home during lockdown, said their accumulated loss of productivity must be at least 80 hours.
Mr Castro claims not to have received a statement from Eskom for the past three months, but he said he had continued paying a regular amount – based on previous bills – of between R1 000 and R1 200 each month for March, April and May.
“My December 2019 account shows a credit of R1 877. January a R994 credit, and February a R53 credit. How on earth could my bill go to arrears of R8 634 which I kept paying in March, April and May? Devastated that the bill was so high but needing to get electricity, I had to pay,” said Mr Castro.
He shared his grievances on a Bothasig community Facebook page and was flooded with responses from others in the neighbourhood grappling with large bills from Eskom too.
“There are shockingly high amounts that people have had to pay, sad posts from retired and struggling people, who advised that they had not received prior warning.
“I am flabbergasted that Eskom can do this without any notification of disconnection, not to mention during a pandemic; that our bill was 10 times its normal amount; the length of time it took for Eskom to reconnect us; and that we have suffered a financial loss. Going into the future, I am dreading my Eskom accounts, as we are saving for pension, which is not far off. We wouldn’t have the money to cover such a huge bill.”
He added that there were further losses such as food that had gone bad in the fridge and having to submit annual leave for the three days lost.
Eskom spokeswoman Trish da Silva said lockdown levels 4 and 5 had disrupted postal services, meaning those customers who usually received their bills through the mail, didn’t get them.
Mr Castro’s bills would be emailed too him in future, she said.
“Mr Castro’s account was estimated for an extended period. When the account was rebilled on an actual reading in March 2020 it resulted in a high arrears amount,” said Ms Da Silva.
She said Eskom had to give customers two weeks’ notice before cutting their power supply.
Mr Castro, as with other customers, would have been alerted to the cut-off deadline by SMS and on his bill, she said.
“Eskom does not process any refunds. However, corrections on bills are done for the following month,” she said, adding that Eskom apologised for any inconvenience.
Mr Castro said Eskom had sent him a claim form for the losses he had suffered but he had to provide proof.
“Who keeps their grocery bill? People are suffering. It is winter, we are trying to work from home during a pandemic and Eskom simply cuts people off, left in the dark. Inhumane to say the very least.”