Sat | Dec 3, 2016

OUR responds to estimated bills grouse

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Submit your claims and make JPS pay

THE EDITOR, Sir:

We have taken note of your Letter of the Day published on Thursday, December 18, 2014, in which a Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) customer highlighted her family's quest to contain their electricity bill through conservation, and their disappointment in receiving three consecutive estimated bills, even after witnessing the meter being read.

The writer expressed dissatisfaction and disappointment, as the lower bill that was expected from the meter reading did not materialise.

As the customer rightly stated, the JPS should not send customers more than two consecutive estimates where the company has access to the meter. This is specified in the Guaranteed Standards agreement

established between the OUR and the light and power company.

Similar arrangements obtain for the water and sewerage companies such as the National Water Commission and small water providers. The Guaranteed Standards are performance measures that guide the provision of utility services to customers.

If the companies fail to honour the agreement, the customer is entitled to compensation which is, in some instances, applied as a credit to the affected customer's account automatically, or in others, through the submission of a claim form.

The Guaranteed Standards for the JPS holds the company accountable for providing acceptable service in the areas of service connection, disconnection and reconnection, billing, and meter installation and replacement.

In the particular instance, provided the JPS had access to the meter, but dispatched three consecutive estimated bills to the customer, the company is in breach of a Guaranteed Standard for which the customer should claim compensation. The applicable compensation is $1,500, which should be applied to the customer's bill. She has 132 working days after this breach to submit a claim to the JPS.

Claim forms are available on the OUR's website, www.our.org.jm, on the JPS's website, or at any of its customer service centres islandwide.

I wish to thank the customer for taking the time out to bring this issue to public attention. Too often, aggrieved customers of the utility companies opt to remain silent. It is for this reason that the JPS and the NWC can report a huge disparity between the potential payout for compensation of breaches, and the actual payout.

For example, the January-June 2014 reports received on JPS's Guaranteed Standards performance indicate that the company committed 16,979 breaches of this particular standard (EGS7). For this number of breaches, JPS should have paid out approximately $76 million. However, based on the number of claims submitted, the actual amount of credits applied to customers' account was approximately $243,000, representing less than one per cent of the potential payout.

We take this opportunity to remind the customer in question that the OUR is your avenue of appeal. If you pursue this matter with the JPS and are not satisfied with the response, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Our Customer Affairs Unit will be only too willing to assist you in this matter, including providing guidance where necessary.

ELIZABETH BENNETT MARSH

Public Education Specialist

Office of Utilities Regulation

ebennett@our.org.jm