The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL), and the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company were required to dole out over $24 million in credits and rebates last year after complaints against them were settled by the Complaints Division of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Investigating and appealing the decisions made by the various utility service providers on behalf of aggrieved customers is one of the main responsibilities of the PUC’s Complaints Division.
According to the PUC Annual Report for 2017, a total of 825 complaints were received by the Georgetown (499) and Berbice (326) offices up to December, 2017.
In the case of the Georgetown office, the 499 complaints, which were received from regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Ten, represented an 82% increase over the numbers for the previous year. They comprised the 296 that were against GTT, 162 against GPL, 38 against Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and three against Digicel. It was noted that with the exception of Digicel, complaints against the utility companies increased in 2017.
The report notes that the complaints received in Georgetown against GTT were in line with those from previous years, with the majority (85%) pertaining to technical issues.
In relation to GPL, 24% of complaints were for technical matters, 22% were concerning meter tampering and bypass, 18% related to applications for service, while the remaining 36% were related to bill issues, disconnections, change of tenancy and claims for compensation.
For GWI, the majority of the complaints (34%) were for technical issues, followed by billing (32%), disconnection of service (26%) and application for service (8%) issues.
The report states that 46% (229) of the complaints received by the Georgetown office last year were resolved, with 84% (193) of those being resolved in favour of the consumer, while 13% (29) were in favour of the respective companies. The remaining 3% (7) include complaints that were withdrawn by the consumer and where no action was taken by the Commission.
The remaining 270 complaints that went unresolved up until December 31st, 2017, were brought over to the new reporting period.
The report states that the PUC was able to secure credits and rebates in the value of $18,375,235 on consumers’ behalf. GPL had to pay the majority of credits and rebates ($17,974,193), followed by GTT ($401,042). GWI and Digicel were not required to pay any credits or rebates.
The report also notes that a total of $29,618,829 in credits were received by consumers during the year, which included settlements that were pending from the previous year.
With respect to the Berbice office, the report says a total of 326 complaints were received; with 248 being against GTT, 75 against GPL, and three against GWI. There was no complaint against Digicel recorded.
Out of the 326 complaints, 148 (45.3%) were resolved, the report adds, while noting that based on the resolution of some of the complaints, consumers were awarded a total of $6,405,260 in credits and rebates.
GPL contributed to $5,932,772 of the credit and rebates that were awarded, while GTT and GWI had to pay $375,214 and $97,274, respectively.
“As it relates to the 248 complaints received against GTT, 107 were resolved. However, there are approximately 130 complaints which were resolved based on the consumers update, not an official response from GTT. As such, the delay in responding to these matters the complaints are listed as unresolved. The remaining 11 are at varying stages in the investigative process,” the report said.
As it relates to GPL, 38 of the 75 complaints were resolved, while the remainder were not. The three complaints against GWI were all resolved.