Condemning FLOW for undetailed bills
Nearly a year ago, LIME (now FLOW) attempted, with little or no notice, to introduce a payment system of some $200+ for monthly telephone bills, which were delivered and paid, as against those that were free when accessed electronically. There was vigorous public protest at the time. LIME had discussions with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the proposal was hurriedly withdrawn - until another day. That other day has now dawned, for my new bill has arrived. The type of payment is not an issue this time, but the company has, with a new sleight of hand, prepared the new bill without any information about the specific calls that were charged. The argument this time is that FLOW is 'going green'. The customer has the right of knowing the details of what he or she is paying for. At any sale or purchase, the vendor is obliged to detail the items being bought by the purchaser. We now move to the OUR, which was asked to comment on this aberration. Has the OUR approved the new FLOW bill method or was it caught napping again, as it was with the November 2014 unsuccessful attempt by LIME? The director of consumer and public affairs posed the question to FLOW as follows: "Your new billing form does not give the customer any billing information, as did the previous bills. Please provide an explanation for this move, as I do not recall it being shared with us or, more important, with your customers." The reply from FLOW was as follows:
"All our customers were sent an insert which clearly explained the changes made to the bill format. In addition, each customer may continue to access additional details of their bill with LIME's online portal free of charge."
It should be noted that not all users of FLOW's phone service have access to islandwide Internet. The dismissal of the inquiry from the OUR by FLOW is symptomatic of how this company operates. Clearly, to access the details of the customer's calls requires additional costs for the customer - Internet and computer time, ink and stationery, plus the hassle of matching the two sets of data. At this time, I am unaware of what position the OUR plans to take on the matter, which was referred to its legal department several weeks ago. While on the subject of FLOW's billing system, I am reporting on a current experience. Quite apart from receiving a recent bill late and without call details as discussed above, the following dates are instructive.
Bill envelope date - Monday, September 21, 2015
Bill payment due date - Wednesday September 23, 2015
Bill arrival at post office - Friday, September 25, 2015
Bill actual payment date - Monday, September 28, 2015
The payment was made nearly a week late, and on that day the FLOW office was jam-packed with customers and parking was at a premium. It is clear that the company, in its obsession to increase its customer base, has neglected to establish appropriate customer support systems. However, I will expect a detailed bill from FLOW, as happened previously.