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JPS's sneaky late fees

Published:Thursday | June 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Because of a general increase in the cost of living and utilities over the last year, many well-thinking Jamaicans have sought to find innovative ways to save on energy costs. Despite best efforts to pay the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) bill early and avoid late fees, we have on multiple occasions been hit below the belt, as the due date comes before most salaries are paid.

Case in point: the due dates were the 24th of the month for April and June 2014, while most salaries are paid on the 25th and some on the 30th of the month. Is there absolutely no regard for customers? Are we valued? I submit to you that to assume that this is an oversight by the utility company and the utility regulator would be more than naive, and at the very least, should warrant an investigation by the authorities. The issue of late fees by JPS and other companies who have structured payment dates before the accepted payment date or period in Jamaica is a multimillion-dollar business.

Many Jamaicans are charged $291 per month in late fees ($250 + GCT @16.5%), or $3,492 per year. This will add up to $384 million per year if residential customers (220,000 persons) incur this cost every other month. What is the role of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR)? Isn't the OUR supposed to regulate the electricity sector in Jamaica, which includes the JPS? But where is the regulation?

This is a true injustice and a big robbery of the Jamaican people who try their absolute best. I am, therefore, calling on the OUR and JPS to address this injustice immediately by recanting the late fee for the month of June and putting the due date to the 30th or 31st of any month. This would represent true regulation of the sector!

Kemmar Webber

kemmarwebber@gmail.com