I stopped by the CFE office on Reforma and Avenida Colon yesterday to check our balance on our apartments and noticed something new: The CFE “Automatic Teller” machine has a new option in its menu for accessing your account. You can now use your new “CFE smart card” to enter your meter information and get your balance.
~ “Pago Programado” ~ Sounds cool, huh?
Electronic cards, like credit cards, are obviously always more cool than old junk like paper-statements, paper cash, and coins.
Computers and electronics always make our lives better, faster, cheaper, no?
Still, my inner codger hesitated.
Do new systems work as promised, especially when they are first starting-up?
Do I have to get a new “digital meter” ?
Digital meters sound cool and look cool, but every CFE customer we know (including us) who were forced to get new meters find our power usage has mysteriously jumped by 20%-30% for the months since the change.
What other hidden catches are there?
Since everything new under the sun generates some internet comments, I popped out to expat web-forums around Mexico this morning, and found some interesting twists / consequences that happen if you shift to the new cool card system:
~ You will not receive paper bills; (interesting)
~ You get a new smart card;
~ Your new CFE card magically reads your meter ~ ( very cool );
~ You lay the card on top of your meter once a month on specific day, like the 25th; (?)
~ The card only reads the meter when you lay it on top of the meter… (15 sec.)
~ You can choose the monthly payment date that suits you from these day-options: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25th of the month.
~ The meter signals when it is acceptable to set the card on the meter: When the green light bulb in your electronic meter is solid, it means that your selected date payment is close enough for you to place your card on the meter (for 15 seconds) to take a reading.
~ You then go and upload that month’s electricity usage from the card into the CFE computer at CFE payment centers, or CFEMáticos (CFE ATMs).
~ This means: You have to take the card into a CFE office or CFE teller machine, every month…
Interesting, but ….
Do I really want to have to remember to do the card-dance on one special day of every month?
What if I lose the card? ( $$ and/or hours of hassles ?)
What if I am not here in Merida?
curiouser and curiouser….
A bit more digging finds:
~ You sign a new agreement with CFE to get the card.
~ That new agreement changes all your current billing terms.
~ No more auto pay.
~ You MUST go to the CFE office with your card every month to log your electricity usage.
~ If you forget, or cannot go to your CFE office with your shiny cool card – CFE does not have your current meter reading.
~ If your forget, or cannot go to your CFE office to log-in your monthly value on the card then ~ your service is cut off ~
~ Agreeing to go onto the new “card system” also sort-of wrecks some people’s pre-pay plans, where foreigners who are not at their Mexican home often like to pay an estimate 4 months or 6 months of expected bills – but that does NOT work with the card system, because someone must put the card on the meter (monthly) and then physically take the card to CFE to be read (data upload).
Why? Unless someone does the card dance monthly, for CFE to know how much electricity you used, CFE shuts off your service, regardless of prepayments or credits. …
Note: We are all welcome to refuse to change to this new whiz-bang card system.
If a CFE person comes to your door and offers you a new card, decide for yourself. Sign up and get a card, or say: “No, gracias. Yo no me gusta a cambiar mi servicio.”
These details are preliminary reports on how the new CFE card system works, as described by the ever-reliable Lawyer Spencer McMullen – so, the details may change, but Spencer is generally very accurate and very thorough in his assessments.
Additional perspectives: One Mexican media outlet describes the new CFE card program this way:
“Molestos y decepcionados por el nuevo sistema de pago a través de una tarjeta inteligente, cientos de usuarios decidieron ponerle fin a esto y acudieron a cancelar este nuevo servicio“
El Horizonte, 15/Ene/14 08:40
Anyone care to translate “”Molestos y decepcionados ” for the rest of us?
Happy Trails (and yes, I will keep listening to my inner curmudgeon),
* * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry
Read-on MacDuff . . .