EDP: a living nightmare

Dear Editor,
I have a house near Tavira. Since 2002, all my electricity bills were paid in time by direct debit. Last year with the introduction of IBAN I could even do away with my Portuguese account. The DD-IBAN from my account in the Netherlands worked fine. However, at home I noticed water charges were debited but not EDP.

I phoned Lisbon and was told not to worry since I had a direct debit. Early October still no deductions were made, so I went to EDP in Tavira and asked the guy to check.

Everything was fine as far as I could understand. So time went on. I phoned in November and asked to speak to an English-speaking person. Then it turned out the direct debit did not work, since they used it for my closed Portuguese account! Weird because I filled out the forms for my Dutch account. Time went by and no deductions were made. So in February I phoned again. I should not worry, I was told, since EDP recognised a problem and it was the case with thousands of foreign clients! But since I would be in Tavira in March, he would block the cut of electricity until April. So on March 17 I went to EDP.

The amount was even higher, now €355. So I wanted to pay with PIN, but the machine did not accept foreign bankcards. I would have to go to the Junta de Freguesia. When I arrived it proved to be impossible to pay there too, for the same reason. Now, multibanco only gives €200 to foreign cards, so I ended up driving into the mountains to get my dad to PIN another round. I finally paid… hurray!

So four days later, I arrived in Alporchinhos for a relaxing week and discovered a call was unanswered. I phoned back only to hear from an electrician that my power was cut off!

So I called EDP, and yes all my bills were paid but they cancelled my contract last week.

This lady told me not to make a new contract online, because then it would become even more complicated. She would call me “today at 2pm” to tell me when the electricity would be connected. You guessed it: she never called back!
So after that I tried to get in touch with EDP, I got every time the same message: “Sorry for the inconvenience but the waiting time is more than five minutes”. Disconnected!

So now I wrote to ERSE, the regulatory body checking consumer protection. What I did find out is that EDP is in breach of several rules:

▪ no disconnection is allowed on a Friday or before public holidays;
▪ a bank account should be provided for customers to pay to;
▪ they only send bills through email, not the threats to disconnect, those I only found after arriving in the regular mail. They should contact you via other means like by phone before they cut you off. Not after, like they did.

Anyway, the EDP is a big mess. Managers should be kicked out and replaced by people who think how to resolve and prevent problems, not how to repair after it’s done wrong.

Daniel Verveer