22 Feb 2010

Bullying utilities

Even as a very young lad living and growing up in Trinidad, I heard, and read in the news, numerous complaints made about the utility companies. From WASA to TSTT, the service is piss poor, and yet, being monopolies, these companies have the upper hand.

Might is right as the saying goes, and these companies have the might, so they are right. Anyone ever tried calling these companies, unless you ‘know’ someone in there, you can be sure your treatment will be less than desirable to say the least.

Complaints are ignored and Trinidad being the sort of society that it is, no one really looks at litigation as a solution. We have people paying water rates for years and never receiving water simply because they live within 1/4 mile of the ‘nearest standpipe, even if they have no water connection to their homes. We have people who had appliances damaged because of surges in the electricity, and/or frequent outages. No compensation from T&TEC. Houses burnt down because of similar reasons – same result.

What led me to thinking about this was a conversation I had with a cousin who lives in Freeport. Imagine for 8 years, she’s been waiting on a telephone! TSTT says they can provide one only when someone ‘gives up’ their number.

Each area code can go to 9999, so that is the maximum number of persons in any area that can have a telephone. As wealth and living standards increase, more people can afford a phone, but TSTT has not made adequate provisions for expansion.

As long as these companies remain monopolies, there is a tendency towards bullying the small customers.