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Society

Greek Postal Service Keeps Bill Payments Meant for Power Company

ATHENS – Strapped for cash, Greece’s postal service ELTA is keeping the money from bill payments toward the country’s Public Power Corporation by customers who prefer to use the post office.

Customers who make PPC payments at the post office leave with receipts showing they’ve paid – except that the utility company is notifying them they haven’t because of big delays in getting the money from ELTA.

That means those who paid on time are also losing out on 15 percent discounts and getting bills showing they haven’t paid at all, with interest charges added along with the threat of having their electricity cut off even though they did pay.

Thousands of PPC consumers have called in at the utility’s branches asking for explanations and for the settlement of their arrears. The company told Kathimerini that, “This is a really difficult issue which we will tackle immediately,” without explaining how.

So far, the company is telling branches to advise customers who claim they made a previous payment only to pay the amount currently due in a second bill until they can figure out where the money is and how to get it and credit it.

There was no explanation why no one at ELTA isn’t being prosecuted for the service keeping the cash rightfully owned by PPC, nor any indication anyone was reprimanded or even being investigated.

PPC had faced a similar problem with ELTA last year, when the amount due to the utility had come to 19.5 million euros ($23.36 million) that was resolved only when PPC sent a warning letter to ELTA threatening to bring in the legal authorities.

PPC has commissioned ELTA to serve power customers for the payment of bills for an annual fee of 20 million euros ($23.96 million. PPC offsets that amount with the cash that ELTA withhold, but the problems for consumers remains unresolved.

Previously, ELTA said the problem with collecting bill payments for PPC was due to problems with an online interbank transaction system and because the post office had already spent the cash aimed for the utility company.

Kathimerini asked ELTA why it continues to withhold PPC consumers’ cash, but its management refused to answer, stressing that “the ELTA Chairwoman cannot respond to every single query that comes up,” and certainly not that one.

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