Step up!

FTC increasing pressure on utility providers to improve service

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is bringing the hammer down on this country’s utility providers, Barbados Light & Power (BL&P), the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and Cable & Wireless (C&W), which operates here as FLOW.

In tough new and amended standards of service, the FTC is now forcing the three providers to up their standards, and in some cases, to automatically compensate customers for failure to meet the FTC set standards, even without a formal written complaint from their customers.

In a long list of new rules that take effect from January 1, 2018, the state regulatory body has told the BL&P, C&W and the state-owned BWA that failure to follow the rules could result in fines of $100,000 on conviction and $10,000 for every day the breaches continue.

For the BL&P, which is owned by Canadian power giant Emera, it will have to automatically compensate customers, from $45 for domestic clients and up to $215
for large commercial clients, for loss of service.

What’s more, in the tough impositions from the FTC, the BL&P must compensate each affected customer with a credit on their electricity bill within two months of breaches on the guaranteed standards.

To effect the new rules of engagement with customers, BL&P has been ordered to issue tracking numbers to each customer reporting a fault or complaint. The customer can then use that tracking number to follow up the progress on the issue.

Barbados TODAY has been informed that staff and management of BL&P, FLOW and BWA are working around the clock to ensure that they are able to adhere to the rulings signed by FTC chairman Jeff Cumberbatch. The standards are to remain in place until December 31, 2020.

The BWA, BL&P and C&W, the main supplier of landline services through FLOW, have just under two months to notify their thousands of customers of the standards and targets which the companies are obligated by order of the quasi-judicial body to meet.

Not only must the companies publicize on their websites the standards and the compensation rates they must pay, they also are mandated to inform customers on their utility bills, and every six months advertise their specific standards and targets in the media.

Among the service standards BL&P’s customers are guaranteed and for which the power company must automatically compensate if it fails to meet, is the restoration of service within eight hours after a power outage.

“The BL&P shall restore the electricity supply within eight hours of a fault being reported on an individual customer’s service. The qualifying fault events include, but are not limited to, problems or defects at the metering point, broken or defective service wires.

“When the BL&P breaches the fault repair target, it shall credit the affected customer’s account $45 (D – domestic), $90 (GS – general service) or $215 (SVP/LP – secondary voltage power/large power). Thereafter, the same level of compensation is applicable for each eight hours the customer remains without service,” the FTC ruled.

The same rate of compensation must be given to customers when they report problems with power surges and dips to their homes or businesses.

BL&P must visit the customer within 24 hours, and it has five days to assess the situation and 30 working days to correct the problem. Failing to do so will mean automatic compensation for the customer within two months on his electricity bill.

When the power company disconnects a customer for non-payment, BL&P must restore the service within six hours after the customer makes the full payment or the power company must refund the reconnection fee.

FLOW’s landline customers have also been offered protection by the FTC. And among the long list of service standards it must maintain is the time to connect customers who request service or want their service transferred to a different residence.

The FTC has given FLOW seven days for such service requests for domestic customers and no more than five days for business clients.

If FLOW fails to meet the standard, it must automatically credit the customer the first month’s service charge. This compensation payment does not require the customer to request the credit.

The state-owned BWA has also been targeted by the FTC. It must acknowledge customer complaints about service standards within seven days of the complaint and 20 days to investigate, or compensate the customer $15.

If the BWA disconnects a customer in error, it must reconnect within ten hours of the complaint or compensate the domestic customer $50, or $100 for commercial customers who are disconnected in error.

Source: (IMC)

17 Responses to Step up!

  1. Milli Watt November 7, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    nothing new FTC my question is why you looking to enforce what was there from the inception hmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Reply
  2. John Everatt November 8, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Well we shall see how this works out. Hopefully it will and if so kudos to the FTC

    Reply
  3. MARIA Holder November 8, 2017 at 5:15 am

    It would be nice to see something, anything working as it should in Barbados

    Reply
  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner November 8, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Bajans gine got to wait and see this sounds good but let’s wait until push come to shove and then see how things really work.

    Reply
  5. Alex Alleyne November 8, 2017 at 8:30 am

    When you call FLOW they say that some calls are “recorded ” for quality purposes. A friend had a problem with FLOW where all the MONEY was REMOVED from the cell phones. After contacting FLOW 11 times and was told that a “supervisor” will look into the matter, and calling back a few weeks later , was told that “ONLY ONE CALL WAS LISTED IN THE SYSTEM”. I think this is a deliberate ploy to ROB customers of “hard earn cask”. Where can we find a LAWYER in the CARICOM that will help us take FLOW to the cleaners or have them clean up their act.

    Reply
  6. Eddy Murray
    Eddy Murray November 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Warm over soup, them in even add a little spice for taste.

    Reply
  7. 3rdsun November 8, 2017 at 9:38 am

    What about Digicel, don’t they count as a utility as the article says ” C&W, the sole supplier of landline services through FLOW”?

    Reply
  8. Helicopter(8P) November 8, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Consumers are now given a fair share of service compensation awards and accountability.

    Reply
  9. Samantha Walker November 8, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Really, lets hope they can act on what they say….All this talk and no action….The utilities robbing bajans blind.

    Internet service is cheap in the Western Countries and so are utilities as there are NO monopolies…..

    Where are the MPs, looking to see where they can add more taxes to the populace too !!

    Reply
  10. milli watt November 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I suspect this manager on the way out…………nothing to loose

    Reply
  11. Eddy Murray
    Eddy Murray November 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Right now what is gaining my attention is this OPET oil prices increase coming at the end of this month. Hard ball for the foreign exchange rates for us.

    Reply
  12. Carlisle Norville November 8, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I told a Digicel rep, that my internet & phone were not working,( she was very nice & professional with me,( she ended or chat by calling her office, & informing them about my situation )& then said to me, a technician will call you,& come to you to fix the problem(i got a call from the Digicel tec, 9 days later)( that is the kind of Ridiculous service that we pay Digicel for).N.B the government will implement anything now, so we can vote them back into power bagans got a short memory, & with the goodies that the D.L.P. got to give out, some bagans yard fouls will vote for them.!

    Reply
  13. Kearn Williams
    Kearn Williams November 8, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Them did talking bout this fuh years. Nothing ain’t gine happen. These utilities companies gine continue to gouge out we eyes

    Reply
  14. Milli Watt November 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    intervenors can’t get a look in at the soon to be convened hearing so I suspect the FTC horse trading ……..something for something and damn little for nothing

    Reply
  15. Thunder November 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    These big companies feel they can treat people,how they like and in many cases,customers receive no compensation, I will see if these rules will adhered to,because these businesses should follow these guidelines.

    Reply
  16. Grantley Ifill
    Grantley Ifill November 8, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Really.. these connections hours are still to long for example Lime 6 Hrs just to flip a switch.. BWA has 10hrs to reconnect a wrongfull disconnection really then how long for a rightfull disconnection to be reconnected.

    Reply

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