Thu | Aug 17, 2017

FLOW hits back at OUR

Published:Friday | October 16, 2015 | 10:00 AM

FLOW yesterday lashed the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) over its announcement that it wished to meet with the telecoms firm regarding increased customer complaints.

In a release over the name of Gail Abrahams, FLOW's director of corporate communications and stakeholder relationships, the telecoms provider accused the OUR of making an "unwar-ranted sensational announcement that could damage the organi-sation's reputation".

FLOW said the increase in complaints of 74 per cent being reported by the OUR was, in fact, 69 additional reports over the comparable period for the previous year.

"FLOW regrets the incon-venience to customers, which it attributes to the increased incidents of cable theft, damage and vandalism," the statement read.

"In 2014, the company reported 687 cable-vandalism and theft-related faults within the January to June period. In the comparable 2015 period, there was a sharp increase in the number of such faults to 742."

FLOW said for 2015, it had already spent J$107 million, with another more than J$45 million budgeted for additional repairs and replacement of cables damaged via theft or vandalism.

"This, in fact, affected thousands of customers. However, the company has managed the matter effectively to help reduce the number of complaints to the OUR, resulting in only 69 additional complaints."

In addition, FLOW said it has been proactive in informing customers of outages by sending text messages and placing notices on interactive voice recordings. The company also said it has suspended billing for customers who are without service during the outage period.

ACTS OF TERRORISM

The telecoms provider said it has been very vocal to the regulators and Government for action to be taken against what it describes as terrorism by cable vandals.

"The OUR's announcement of increased customer complaints is evidence of the negative effect that cable theft has on customers, businesses and critical services to the nation," FLOW said.

In addition to existing security measures, the telecoms provider said a US$10,000 reward would be established for information leading to the arrest and conviction of cable thieves and vandals.

"FLOW is looking forward to meeting with the OUR and, at the same time, calls on the Government and the regulators to take urgent steps to make the necessary legislative amendments to deter cable theft and vandalism," the company said.