The Public Utilities Commission is urging utilities under its purview to pay more attention to customers’ grievances.
“Not because there is a monopoly on services provided by some of these utilities should their customers be taken for granted,” PUC warned yesterday.
This came after the Commission’s awareness exercises conducted in March 2017 in Georgetown and No.2 Village in Canje, Berbice, where it was revealed that consumers, on becoming more aware about the work of the entity, and the obligations of the service providers, are complaining about issues that are fast becoming common.
“Customers are questioning why they are receiving prolonged estimated bills for more than actual readings even though water and electricity meter readers visit regularly. There are also claims of reporting low electricity consumption that persist for long periods, only to eventually have their services removed with the utility claiming that the meters were tampered.”
According to the PUC, on disputing some of these claims and paying the requisite fees to have services restored, customers are then advised that there are no meters in stock, and that the previous meter was reassigned to another customer.
“The Commission invariably files claims on behalf of such consumers. Investigations revealed that consumers are overbilled. The record shows that for the year 2016 in excess of thirteen million dollars were credited to customers’ accounts.”
The PUC stressed also that electricity consumers are also frustrated when faced with damage to their appliances due to power problems.
“More often than not, they are advised that the power company is not liable for the claim or that the claim was disallowed because it was not filed according to procedure. Consumers seem unaware that they must immediately call a GPL Emergency Call Centre to report the damage and obtain a reference number.”
The commission pointed out that it is only the customer who signs the contract for the service from GPL can file a claim, which includes the previously obtained reference number and supporting documents, to a GPL commercial office within 30 days of the occurrence.
“Damaged appliances and equipment may be considered as evidence to the claim and should not be disposed before the outcome of the claim is determined,” PUC said in its statement.
“The Commission remains committed to its mandate of ensuring that both consumers and utilities are fairly represented by the PUC.”
In additional to GPL, the commission also regulates the telecommunications, water and sewerage companies.
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