Mexico: How to Report Electrical Problems to CFE

I often come up with topic ideas for articles based on my own experiences here in Mexico. This is one of those times.

Over the past six nights, a large portion of the condos in our complex have experienced power outages at night lasting as long as 10 hours. Even the condos that didn’t lose power in the past have been affected because the water goes out to the entire community until power is restored to the pumping station. This usually happens between 8 and 9 o’clock the following day.

I’ve started calling these long periods of no water or electricity impromptu camping trips.

We had a similar problem about three years ago and went for almost two months before the electric company, known as CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad), figured out that the outages were being caused by a defective part at an electric substation south of here.

After the power came back on this morning, the first thing I did was to turn on the coffee maker and the second was to file a detailed complaint with CFE via their website. I made sure to include the details of the previous problem and how they had fixed it.

I have been encouraging everyone in my community to file complaints with CFE in the hopes that more squeaky wheels will get more grease. That’s why I’m doing this post explaining how to do it.

Step-by Step Instructions to Report a Problem

On the CFE site, it says that you can dial 071 from any phone to be connected to a CFE representative 24 hours a day.

It did not work from my Mexican cellphone, but it did from my home phone — which unfortunately goes out when the power does.

To be honest, the phone option is not a good one for most of my neighbors because very few of them speak and understand Spanish well enough to get through the automated answering service with menu options.

But hope is not lost. There is still a way to file a complaint online via the CFE site. This might not be very helpful at the time the power is out; however, it’s a great way to make a complaint about a reoccurring problem like this one.

Here’s are step-by-step instructions:

Click this link: https://www.cfe.mx/atencionclientes/Pages/default.aspx

Scroll down and click on Servicios en Línea to open the drop down menu. Click on Avisar Fallas de la Luz

You should be taken to a screen that looks like the one below. You’ll need your CFE service number (número de servicio) which can be found on your last CFE bill.

After entering your CFE service number and your contact email address, you have four options to choose from: 1) There is no electricity on the block, 2) The electricity is out in your home, 3) the electricity comes and goes, 4) low intensity or low voltage.

In the box under observaciones, include all the details. It’s okay if you can only do this in English. CFE can use an online translator if needed. Then just hit continuar and you’re done.

There is also an app that you can download for your phone. It is useful to report outages but a bit lacking if you’re trying to explain an ongoing problem like this one.

Let’s Wrap This Up

One of the things you have to accept when you move to Mexico, is that the infrastructure may not be on par with what you are used to. That applies to electrical grids, road maintenance, emergency services and even animal control.

Still, in spite of occasional inconveniences like the one we’re experiencing now, the pros of living in Mexico far outweigh the cons. We really love it here.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

29 Comments on "Mexico: How to Report Electrical Problems to CFE"

  1. Even if your power goes out you normally still get 4G on your phone. Go to the CFE website and report the outage. You will need to know your account number. You can even get on Twitter to report the outage. I use Twitter to send messages to Telcel, Telmex and CFE when something goes wrong.

    • We have trouble connecting from where we are unless I walk out into a parking lot and hold my phone up like I’m taking a selfie…lol.

  2. Thanks, you’re doing a good job. Keep up the good work…

  3. The best way as you said is via the website. I went through the app yesterday but it doesn’t let you put in the details. AND today when I tried to complain vie the app it informed me that it was still processing my last complaint so the app wasn’t available to our in another one until the last one was processed.
    Pierre

  4. Paul does the menu selection by phone correspond to the drop down menu on the site?

  5. Paul, I greatly enjoy your articles. Your positive slant for constructive solutions is inspirational. And your obvious love of Mexico is infectious. Brit (Buster) Chism

  6. Annette Stevens | March 2, 2020 at 10:20 am | Reply

    We are three month renters here in TAO, and it is difficult to adjust to the power being off so much. In January it was off for about nine days; the first three weeks in February I think the power was on most of the time; and the last week has been loss of power for three or four nights. When you are an early bird riser like me – I wake up between 4:00 and 5:00 each day – and it is dark until 7:15 or so, it is beyond irritating because that is my work time. Hopefully, I will be able to force myself to stay up later in order to sleep in and be oblivious to the loss of power. I can’t imagine what the weekly renters are experiencing – I feel badly for them. There is definitely a pattern to the loss of power – power goes off sometime after 10:30, and then comes back on between 8:00 and 9:15 or so. And with the loss of electricity, there is a loss of water. This has to be a detriment to those people who are listing their rentals on AirBNB – can’t imagine the feedback there!

  7. John C Fosbaugh | March 2, 2020 at 10:25 am | Reply

    Thanks for the info Paul. Our block experiences this quite often.

  8. My biggest concern would be air conditioning at night… Gringo gordo’s are not use to heat and humidity. I love it during the day and even enjoy the constant sweating, when I’m not dressed up to go somewhere, but at night, I like it freezing cold and I would be a grumbling gringo gordo..

  9. I have lived here near Chetumal (Ejido Juan Sarabia, Ucum) for about eight years now. I love it when the power goes out because it reminds me of why I moved here to Mexico in the first place – to get off the dependency of always being connected to the grid. When the power goes out here, I simply go outside to tend my garden.

    I was thinking about getting solar- or wind-powered back up but then I realized that I enjoy the break from sitting at my desk all day (I am a pastor and a writer). 😉

    My regular electric bill is 175 pesos for two months. I have big windows, lots of sun, sleep with the sundown and rise with the sunrise, rarely use lights, and the only power I use is to recharge my computer battery and run the Internet modem. The global power grid could go down and I would not notice until I went to Chetumal to get groceries and use an ATM. I go about once every two weeks to get my pay and buy rice and eggs to feed the 20+ abandoned dogs that now live on my ranch land. (note: eggs do not need refrigeration and I cook with natural gas from my tank).

    Before I choose to come here, I was the guy that had three mobile phones, slept 4 hours a night, and raised hundreds of millions for tech companies. Over a 40 year career, I helped start more than 30 companies. Then, I gave all my money away to my Willivision Foundation and semi-retired to do writing and charity work. I chose to be poor, live with the poor, and help the elderly and animals. I have never been happier in my life.

    When I see people who cannot bear to put down a smartphone, to me, they look like the kind of always-on, always-connected, always-distracted, stressed-out, techno-zombie that I used to be about nine years ago. When I escaped that self-imposed technological incarceration, I gained so much contentment and happiness that I would never return to the USA to do that ever again.

    The stock market collapsed last week and lost $5 trillion dollars and I thought that was hysterical because I did not even notice it. A decade ago, I would have been in full panic. Now, it is funny in a calm, detached way. My life is not for everyone, just like not everyone can be a billionaire; however, I would rather have my life than be a billionaire.

    In general, when things do not work in Mexico, the Mexican people don’t get too stressed about it. It is usually only gringos that freak out. I understand both sides and I like the Buddhist way of 1) If you don’t like something, and you can do something to change it, then do it. and 2) If you don’t like something, and you cannot do anything to change it, accept it.

    The power went out here last week. The stock market lost $5 trillion! I laughed. This puts it in perspective.

    All Blessings and Peace Profound,
    William

  10. I’ll be sure to keep the jacuzzi tub filled with cold water, for cooling off, and keep a large jug of water, for cooking and washing, on hand..

  11. From this I learned that manazana also means block (no light in the apple???) lol

  12. sheryl l fletcher | March 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Reply

    Power outages are in every country along with the USA…..certainly not limited to mexico . And I have had the same problems with PG&E in California.

  13. I have a cheap land-line phone that requires no external electricity in order to function. Very handy during power outages for calling CFE or ordering pizza while conserving my cell phone battery.. I think mine cost 200 pesos.

  14. I would love to help but our Spanish is not at the level for detailed complaints. Any suggestions?

  15. Great Information. In Mahahual I have not experienced such long or frequent outages. And when there has been a problem, my fluent Spanish neighbor calls. I have used the cfe website to report obvious power being stolen but even once they came 2 months later, they seemed not too worried. They cut the line and within 2 hours of darkness, the people had reconnected. I called again and they did not respond

  16. FYI: I’ve learned from experience that you can only call CFE from a cellphone if you have a phone PLAN, not pay as you go. Amazing, but true!

  17. Thank you for this very informative post. Wrote down the directions and now it is on my night table!

  18. Fortunately we’re not down there right now, but I am concerned about our electronics and the affect it is having on our renters. Not exactly what they bargained for in paradise.

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