Tue | Nov 12, 2019

OUR gets $63.6m compensation for consumers

Published:Thursday | August 21, 2014 | 4:02 PM

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) obtained $63.61 million in compensation from the National Water Commission (NWC), Jamaica Public Service (JPS) and telecommunications providers LIME and Digicel for consumers during financial year ending March 2014.

This is more than three times the compensation of $21 million secured by the OUR for consumers the previous year, the regulator said in a release today.

Customers who benefitted had appealed to the OUR, having been dissatisfied with how the utility service providers addressed their complaints.

The funds secured on customers’ behalf resulted from the reversal of previously billed charges or relevant credits being applied to their accounts, the regulator said.

For the 2013/14 period, the JPS and NWC accounted respectively for 79 per cent and 20 per cent of the credits applied to customers’ accounts, while the remaining one per cent was shared between Digicel and LIME.

Of the 285 appeals investigated by the OUR, 154, representing 54 per cent, were resolved or closed. Of those resolved, 35 per cent were in favour of customers and 53 per cent in favour of the utility providers.

In the case of JPS, some customers’ accounts were adjusted following the outcome of investigations for alleged illegal activities.

In the case of the NWC, previously-billed high consumption charges were reviewed and reduced or written-off.

The decision of both service providers to credit, reduce or write-off the disputed charges came after much discussion with the companies, and vigilance and perseverance by the OUR, the release said.

“In carrying out its regulatory role, the OUR must ensure that it takes into account the needs of all relevant stakeholder groups, which include the Government of Jamaica, the utility service providers and its largest stakeholder group - the consumers of these utility services,” said OUR Director General, Albert Gordon.

“While the organization is not a consumer advocacy group, the OUR does provide an avenue of appeal for utility consumers against decisions of these companies regarding their complaints”, he added.

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