I refer to a letter in the Sunday Stabroek captioned, `GTT has disconnected my internet service without just cause’, in which Ms. Narissa Deokarran bemoans the horrible way we are being treated by GTT.
She is absolutely correct and to the best of my knowledge, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seems impotent to act in our best interest, in a country where the current Minister of Public Telecommunications is being accused by the former and highly respected, Auditor General Anand Goolsarran, as being in clear breach of Guyana’s Integrity Act.
And this is not the first time that this minister has been accused of being in a conflict situation which is of no immediate interest to me. What is of interest to me is that this minister is busy otherwise when the rest of us are being trodden upon by GTT.
On Sunday, 7th April, I saw that my bandwidth had been reduced, as a movie I was watching on Netflix was pausing very frequently. Now I know that I was supposed to pay my bill by the 1st of April or face disconnection by the 10th, so I tried once more to use my Visa card that Sunday night, which is a US Chase Visa card with a valid US address. But after trying several times for over one hour, I could not get that wasteland GTT calls a website to accept my US-based card. This raises two questions: 1. Why do they have to turn down my DSL speed? 2. Why is their payment site so deficient?
Anyway, patiently [patience is a virtue I am told I do not possess in abundance], I took what they were doing all of Sunday evening and the next day I went to a bill payment outlet in Kitty and paid $1,100 on my phone bill and $6,600 on the DSL.
The reason I did not go to Brickdam is that it is impossible to go there to pay anything without getting a nervous breakdown, since it is manned by the most arrogant and incompetent workers in Guyana.
After paying on that Monday, I noticed that my internet was still not functioning, so I patiently waited for the payment I made to register at that madhouse in Brickdam, but lo and behold, not only was it not returned to normal speed, I was disconnected promptly on the 10th! So on the 11th I went in to the place in Kitty where I paid my bill and after some searching, they discovered that all of the money was paid by the inexperienced person, who put $7,700 on a landline telephone which only required $1,100! And they had the effrontery to tell me that I only gave them one account number, when I know that I wrote two down, since the geniuses at GTT have given my landline two account numbers— one for the phone and one for the DSL— I have never understood why! I guess one bill for both would have been difficult, after all Editor, many people in Guyana have my exact phone number! Anyway, they promised to handle it and called the operator, which I was unable to do since when I went to Brickdam at 9 am sharp on Friday to report that I was wrongfully disconnected, and that I have business in the US and making me incommunicado for four days was unacceptable.
The place was packed. On asking to speak to the supervisor, a young man, a GTT employee, sitting behind the counter at the complaints desk, said that I can’t see the supervisor, that I have to join the very long line and when I get to him, he will look at my problem and he will decide if I can see the supervisor. A man, standing in the line, asked this young upstart if he didn’t see that I am a senior citizen deserving of some respect, stated that I have given good service to my country and that he is telling me this nonsense and he doesn’t even know who he is speaking to.
A female employee who was on her break [at 9.10am?] saw my situation and gave me a number which I could call to get someone in authority to help. Over two hours later, when my cellphone felt like it was on fire in my ear, I gave up, and went back to the bill payment place in Kitty, where I spoke to the supervisor, who told me that her employee had reported the matter since Wednesday, 10th April to GTT and could not explain why I was not reconnected. But she again managed to get the supervisor in Brickdam to tell her that she [supervisor] doesn’t know why I was not reconnected, because since Wednesday she had reported the wrongful disconnection to the brick heads in Brickdam!
So I want to tell Ms. Narissa Deokarran that she is not alone. In fact, most Guyanese are in the same boat, certainly everyone I saw there in those long lines in Brickdam on Friday, April 12th, at 9:00am were angry. A lot of them (according to the security guard, who told me that they were there before opening) reminded me of Burnham’s Guyana’s lines in the 70’s. GTT cannot possibly be serving us properly if we have to line up like that to pay.
These people are holding a monopoly in this country, which the relevant minister has failed to address, and in the meantime, not only are Guyanese not enjoying all of the options opening daily to the users of the internet and the cellphone, the people at GTT are treating us as if we are their employees and not the other way around. And if you have problems— which will be more often than not with this company— and they give you a number to call, DON’T! Especially if it is 0488!
So here are my suggestions, which almost all Guyanese will agree to: 1. Businesses like GPL, GTT etc., which use these bill payment outlets, should really try to see that they meet the demands of the public and not lead to the kind of frustration I have outlined above. In fact, I believe any proper functioning PUC should ensure that they are qualified and competent to serve the public. 2. The websites of the companies which in this internet age should be offering online payments for the convenience of their customers, especially GWI and GTT, should have properly functioning sites policed by the PUC. 3. Deals offered by the telephone company of bonus minutes etc. should be enforced rigidly by the regulatory agency, PUC, or in its absence, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications. Don’t tell people if they pay they will get four times more time and then don’t give it!
On 15th April, 2019, I received a notice on my cell phone from GTT telling me that if I paid $6,000, I would receive a bonus of $18,000, totaling $24,000 (transaction ID 374157636). Well Editor, I did. And got no bonus. The internet link said that I was given a bonus, but my cellphone recorded no bonus; this amounts to a fraud unless something else is going on which I do not understand. The same thing happened on March 19th, with promises of a bonus which I did not receive (transaction ID #374118224).
Editor, I am paying my bill in US dollars with a card which has a United States billing address in New York City and I am not getting the bonus minutes. My card is a US card so if I am in Guyana or not, it should be viewed as a US person paying into GTT, since that money was earned legally in the USA by my company.
Editor, I have a business in Miami which uses high speed internet. I am paying US$40 or GY$8,640 per month for 200 megabytes; in Guyana, I am paying GY$6,600 for 1.7 megabytes.