An absolute runaround at GPL for a Pre-paid meter

Dear Editor,

I attribute much of the incompetence and poor customer relations that some companies perpetuate, to ignorance, hefty or inadequate salaries and mismanagement or unsuitable staff, resulting in an inability to provide the services or goods offered.

I applied for a Pre-paid meter at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Company, Main Street, on the 17th January 2018. I was asked to sign two forms, a “Special Supply Contract” (SSC) and a “Customer Reference Slip” (CRS). I complied. I saw an amount on the CRS of $19,360 which was indicated to be a security deposit. I asked the representative what that was for as I was told by him that there would be no cost for the Pre-paid meter, only when I started buying my electricity via the meter. He said that it was a deposit to be paid later. I asked him which meter of the Post-paid and Pre-paid would be given sooner and he said the Pre-paid. I asked him how long it should take to be installed and he said 14-21 days. He then told me to pay $3,648 as an inspection fee, which I paid. I also submitted my I.D. Card, Electrical Inspector’s Certificate and Transport of Property. I subsequently called a friend of mine, a manager at GPL to make sure that everything was on stream, only to be told that he was seeing my application was for a Post-paid meter. He told me that it was necessary for me to return to sign a form requesting a Pre-paid. I complied.

I went to the same representative who had dealt with me before and asked him for a copy of the form that I would sign to and he said that they don’t do it that way, they just make the change through the computer. Unfortunately, I accepted that and left. I was visited by a GPL employee a few days later who questioned me about the places I had lived over the past three years and he was seeing that my application was for a Post-paid and said that I had to return to GPL’s office. By this time, my nerves were rattled and I was fuming. Upon returning to the GPL I asked for the supervisor who listened to and spoke with me obviously reluctantly, surly and curtly. She left me and returned, saying that she had just spoken with the representative who had dealt with me and the change would be made. No apology was given.

At least a week later, I was visited at home by two GPL representatives who questioned me about the places I had lived before, within the past three years. They assured me that they would install the meter within days. Within a week, I received a call from someone at GPL who said they were coming to my home within hours. They never came. I called an associate at GPL and she said that the processing had not reached the department of M.I.U. which was the final stage before they could install the meter. She said she would let me know of the progress. Before she could have called me, I received a call from GPL during the last week of February and was assured that the meter would be installed during the week. On the Saturday of that week, the 3rd March, I called the GPL and was asked to provide my account number or customer number, which I did. I was subsequently told by the employee that she would call me back after some investigation. The person did call hours later. She told me that she was only seeing an application for a Post-paid and if it had been for a Pre-paid, they would have installed it the same day. She said that I would have to return to the GPL to apply for the Pre-paid. She apologised.

As this occurred on a Saturday, I found the opportunity to return to GPL’s office early the next Wednesday. I did not expect that I would have to take a number and wait in line, as this was a follow-up matter resulting from the incompetence of some members of staff. It was now causing me valuable time and expense. However, when I attempted to approach the nearest customer services representative and started to describe my case, she told me with a derisive grin, that I had to take a number and wait in line. I played it safe by doing so but was waiting keenly for the supervisor to come near to the counter, which she did in a few minutes. I attempted to explain, telling her that she had assured me the last time I was there, that she had ensured that the change on my application had been made and recorded as a Pre- paid. Before I could have got off to a good start, she started to keep apace with my monologue converting it into a skewed dialogue. I complained vehemently about her response and she subsided. She had obviously remembered me from our previous encounter and told me she would look at it and asked me to sit and wait. I complied.

I saw her approach a representative who was on duty dealing with customers awaiting their turn in the sitting area. She and the representative were by then wearing grim expressions as they started talking and I heard the representative angrily complain about something and adopt a scowl. Anyway, after about 20 minutes, I was called and asked questions by the supervisor about where I had lived previously, which I had been asked by all the GPL staff who had called or visited me. I was assured that I would get my meter soon. I asked her to give me a specific time period and she said within two weeks. I continue to wait in prolonged discomfort.

Yours faithfully,

Conrad Barrow

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