Contrary to the Federal Government motive of bridging the metering gap in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, Lagos residents have alleged Ikeja Electric and CONLOG Meter Solutions Nigeria supply substandard prepaid meters to its customers.
This is coming after many struggled and lamented the difficulties in getting a prepaid meter after continuous outrageous billing by the DisCo.
Recall on October 30, 2020, during the flagging off of phase zero of the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), the Federal Government planned to distribute one million meters to unmetered electricity customers across the country in phase zero of the scheme.
Although Ikeja Electric Plc (IE) is alleged to have installed prepaid meters for about 400,000 customers out of 1.1 million since 2013, Lagos residents still groan under its unwholesome treatment.
Speaking earlier on the prepaid meter distribution, the Head of Corporate Communications, IE, Felix Ofulue stated that the company has installed about 105,000 prepaid meters for customers under its network through the Federal Government’s National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).
Also, Ikeja Electric Chief Marketing officer, Ugo Obichukwu while speaking to journalists in Lagos recently noted that the DisCo had been making investments to upgrade its network to guarantee reliable and stable power supply to its customers.
He said the company in the past few years came up with innovative ideas that would ensure customer satisfaction for its commercial and residential customers.
Unfortunately, many residents who struggled to get the prepaid meters realised that it was of substandard quality.
A prepaid electricity meter has a readout that displays units as well as the level of power consumption. This allows customers to better monitor how much electricity they are using and therefore budget better every month.
Investigations carried out by Business Remarks disclosed that CONLOG Meter upon installation need to be recharged after which an activation token for the crediting units will be given to customers. The amount recharged will be credited to each meter until it is exhausted upon which the customer will repeat the process.
However, during the period of usage, customers are advised to change the battery or contact Ikeja Officials by visiting their offices or calling their customer care line when an issue arises.
Business Remarks findings revealed that the majority of customers problems start when the UIU box goes blank upon which they are told to change the battery.
During the next recharge, customers sadly discovered the keypads stop responding.
Speaking with Business Remarks on this, a customer Derin Afolami decried “they are selling and distributing meters that are not user friendly to Nigerians”.
Afolami noted that he visited their business unit to make a complaint about the meter but kept getting failed promises.
“I visited their offices twice to complain, their customer service attendant told me she has filed the complaint and directed it to the right channel. She assured me their technicians will visit my house to fix the issue the next day because the box will not if it is too far from the meter box. Sadly I was forced to visit again after waiting for a whole week for their technicians. Now I’m without electricity in my house”.
Another user, Emmanuel Gbenga told Business Remarks he has been visiting their offices and calling Ikeja customer care lines for close to two months without any changes or positive response.
According to him, why would they introduce a system that doesn’t work or they can’t fix when issues arise.
Emmanuel however noted that he discovered Ikeja Electric and its officials are deliberately frustrating customers to siphon money for themselves in an unhealthy manner.
Narrating his ordeal, he said the UIU box keys stop responding after changing the battery as advised by IE customer care operators after which they promised to send in a technician in 24-72 hours.
“After waiting for two weeks, I visited their office at Ijaiye. My contact address and phone number were collected but nothing came out of it. I had to visit again after calling the customer care lines more than 10 times (those keep telling me that they have escalated my complaints by emails to the Ijaiye office after giving me a SR number). During my second visit to their office, a technician was contacted in my presence via phone call who promised to come over the next day, but till now no one shows up. This issue is over a month now.
“The IKEDC has failed in its responsibilities to electricity consumers in Lagos and neighbouring cities”.
Agreeing with Afolami that the meters are not user friendly, he said Ikeja Electric should have provided an alternative way of recharging the meter remotely just like the mobile network operator for GSM services does through their customer care agent.
“I asked Ikeja Electric customer care for an alternative option since I can’t get power without recharging (although I have recharge N3000 but can’t put in the token since the box is not responding), they told me me none is available. Can you imagine that”, He said.
Speaking further, Emmanuel noted that after placing more than twenty calls to the customer care agent (spending nothing less than 500 on each calls), he was advised by one of the customer care agent to buy a new box for N18,500.
“This is sad, a pure fraud. After paying N48000 for a meter which should be free in the first place. I am told to buy a small box that does nothing other than punching numbers and displacing units for N18000. When some smartphones will multiple functions can be gotten at that price.
“My question is why can’t it be fixed why must I buy another one for N18,500 when I haven’t used it for more than a year”
“This is a fraud, a grand scam and illegal extortion from Ikeja Electric and CONLOG”, he lamented.
Another customer said she visited Abule Egba offices to complain about the CONLOG meter but nothing was done. During her second visitation, she was told to pay N5000 to technician workers if she wants it fix.
“There is a cartel formed within the Ikeja Electric frustrating people in an already depressed economy just to extort money from them for a code to activate their meters, something they are entitled to do. It is really unfortunate”, she said.