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New standards for BL&P, C&W

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

New standards for BL&P, C&W

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Two of Barbados’ utility companies will likely now have to pay customers increased and “automatic” compensation if their standard of service falters.
This follows a Fair Trading Commission (FTC) review of service standards for Cable & Wireless (Barbados) Limited (C&W) and the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P).
FTC chief executive officer (CEO) Peggy Griffith, noting that her organisation’s review would be related to the period July 1, 2014, to March 31, 2017, said “generally the review of the standards showed that, in some cases, there was a low level of claims for standards that required customers to claim manually”.
And she added that in this regard the FTC “has sought to expand, where feasible, the number of standards for which automatic compensation will now apply”. This will result in compensation paid as a credit on customer bills.
The FTC’s standards of service cover C&W’s landline telephone services and BL&P’s electricity supply to customers including businesses and households.
In the case of BL&P, the regulator said the group of Guaranteed Standards to which automatic compensation applies will now include fault repair customer’s service, voltage complaint and reconnection (GES7).
The CEO said this meant customers “will no longer be required to make a manual claim for compensation under these standards if the BL&P does not meet the prescribed target”.
In the case of C&W, the FTC has extended “automatic compensation” to repeated loss of service, and wrongful disconnection.
Automatic compensation is already in place for the installation of service after approval, and reconnection after disconnection categories. There will also be similar compensation for breaches of fault repair.
Both BL&P and C&W will also have to conform with several overall standards of service. The FTC reduced C&W’s from seven to six, removing the interactive voice response standard. On the other hand, it introduced a new billing period standard for BL&P.
It requires BL&P to bill, at minimum, 95 per cent of its customers for no more than 33 days of service on all issued bills.
“The purpose of standards of service is to ensure that a minimum quality of service is maintained, provide incentives for improvement, create conditions for customer satisfaction and generally protect the interest of consumers,” Griffith explained.
“The standards of service include both Guaranteed Standards, for which customers will receive compensation for breaches, and Overall Standards. The commission employs Overall Standards to assess the performance of the companies and there is no compensation to customers for breaches of these overall standards.” (SC)