IT MATTERS TO MARIA: ‘Hot’ light bill
KYLE HARDING of St Michael, is literally in the dark.
He has been without electricity for the past three years because Barbados Light & Power is claiming that he owes the company $12 786.49.
But Harding does not believe that he owes the company any money, insisting that he had been paying his bill every month.
He explained that one day workmen from BL&P turned up at his house, removed his meter and informed him that it had been tampered with, causing him to get billed for zero usage (basic meter fee) rather than daily usage.
Harding produced a December 2011 bill that put his electricity bill at $7 but he denied ever tampering with the meter. He said he had been experiencing problems with an electrical pole opposite his home, which was always sparking. He charged that the BL&P was also aware of the problems with the pole and had visited his home on several occasions to inspect his meter.
“It had something to do with the pole,” Harding claimed as he related how early one morning the pole caught fire.
“The light in the house start to shine bright, bright, bright and then everything went dead. When we come out the house we see the pole on fire,” he said. A number of electrical items in the house were damaged, he added.
While workmen from the BL&P turned up and carried out repairs, Harding said it was also at that time that they removed the meter from his house.
“They cut off the electricity and say that the meter was not working for five years and that we didn’t pay the bill for five years and we owe them over $12 000.
“Every month the bill was coming in and they were sending people to read and check the meter. So if they knew it was faulty, why did they let it go on for five years?” Harding said.
His sister, who lives in a building to the rear, but who did not want to give her name, said she was shocked when the BL&P gave her brother this information because she was the one who paid the bill for him every month.
“I think they feel that he was tampering with the meter but if they were coming and checking it all the time, why would they let it go on for five years?” she said.
Harding produced a letter which he received from BL&P last February reminding him of the outstanding balance.
“Our records have indicated that there is an outstanding balance of $12 786.498 owed on the above mentioned account.
“You have been a valued customer overtime. With this in mind we do recognise that non-payment may have been an oversight . . .,” the letter read as it advised him to settle the account.
Not only did he not have that kind of money, Harding said, but he would now have to find additional money to have his house rewired because more than six months had passed.
“I got laid off my job. I do not work and this thing is affecting me and family real, real bad.”
Harding, who has lived at the house most of his life, added that he was never compensated for the damage to his electrical items and he expressed fear that the same electrical pole which was now leaning and still “sparking” and could lead to another fire.
When contacted, Jennifer Blackman, communications coordinator at BL&P, responded: “The Barbados Light & Power Company knows customer Kyle Harding by name and by the situation being referenced.
“The claim does not accurately reflect the situation. We have asked Mr Harding to contact the customer service department to discuss the business of meter interference, debt and disconnection since, as a policy, Light & Power keeps customer information confidential and we must protect the interest of our customers.”