Thu | Nov 23, 2017

NWC gets go-ahead to resume charging late-payment fee

Published:Saturday | June 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
National Water Commission communications manager Charles Buchanan

The National Water Commission (NWC) will resume applying late-payment fees (LPF) to applicable bills come July 1, as issues that had caused the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to halt the payment have been resolved.

"Following a review of information, as well as discussions with NWC, the OUR wrote the NWC on June 16, expressing satisfaction that appropriate measures were implemented to resolve the issues which had caused the erroneous application of the LPF to some customers' bills," stated a release from the OUR.

"The OUR has asked the NWC to provide its customers with notice prior to its resumption of the LPF," the release further stated.

The OUR's investigation into the issue came against the background of complaints received from NWC's customers that the LPF was being applied to their accounts even though their bills were settled in full on or before the due dates.

On March 31, the OUR issued a directive to the NWC to stop charging their customers LPF on bills for which there are amounts outstanding with immediate effect and until further notice.

 

Report billing anomalies

 

The OUR noted it would continue to monitor the application of the LPF and urges customers to report any billing anomalies.

Late-payment fee is applied where customers initially receive estimated bills, but subsequent actual meter readings for the same billing period indicate that consumption was underestimated.

The late-payment charge is $250.

"The NWC had originally proposed a two-part payment compliance initiative. One side involved an early-payment incentive of $250, where we give a reward of that amount to every customer who makes the pay date," explained Charles Buchanan, the .

"And, on the other side, we apply a late-payment fee on every customer who failed to make the payment by the due date," he added.

He said the NWC is, therefore, happy that the regulators have seen it fit to have them resume charging the fee.

"We have fixed the issues we had initially identified and we took the time to have that reviewed and audited to see if the fix was working, but we are happy to see the regulator allowing for the resumption," Buchanan concluded.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com