Customers have no rights in relation to GPL

Dear Editor,
I was recently shown a copy of the Electricity Reform Act of 1999 which allows GPL the absolute power as a monopoly to deny their customers the legal right of bypass. Customers are therefore given no rights. GPL has the authority to take money from the citizenry without having to exhibit good conscience and fairness. Why should anyone be forced by a monopoly to pay dues on a defective service? Whenever a company supplies a user with a defective service or product, and is found to have done so, the expenditure on energy, etc should be absorbed solely by the company. At least that is how it is in all other countries of the world, but not in Guyana. Of course, until the faults are exposed the companies make a lot of money by charging customers excessive dues. How can any company in good conscience determine exactly what should be charged a customer for energy supposedly consumed when the machine which records usage reads nineteen per cent above normal today, and tomorrow ninety per cent above. A defective product is never consistent, so what then would be the correct charge to the customer?

Absolute power beyond a doubt corrupts. And this behaviour is an established occurrence in Guyana where those in power flex their muscles simply for the fact they are allowed the right to do so. GPL behaves like the big bully on the block, adhering strictly to the book – the act of 1999. I have lived abroad for a very long period of time, including the United States of America. I have read many an exposé of dictatorial tendencies in Guyana. I did not believe them as I read them. But now, while in the country I have seen first hand where companies and some persons in authority are immune to questions and to prosecution.

Guyana is nearing the period of general elections, and our eyes should be opened and focused. We should ask and vote for a change that will benefit the populace and not only those in authority. Persons should not be misguided by promises. If one visits the office of GPL with a query about the bill they sent you, they demand that you pay your bill first. Why should anyone be forced to pay a bill generated by a faulty meter? Why should demands be made on the citizenry to pay bills that are obviously excessive? Many times a bill from GPL is based on in-house estimates manufactured by GPL. Customers should be keen and meticulous when they review their bills. The day I spent in the Main Street office making a futile attempt to settle my account , there was a complaint from one woman who was irate because GPL had credited another customer with monies she had paid to her account, and they went as far as to cut her service.

She needed answers she said, but all she was told by GPL was that she should pay the bill once more until they sorted things out. They also asked her to pay a reconnection fee – a sum she did not have, along with no power supply, even though she had in fact paid her dues.  The electricity act of 1999 should be repealed. The citizenry have suffered for too long, and two wrongs can never make a right.

Yours faithfully,
Jorge Bowenforbes

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