Friday, April 19, 2024

Ease for consumers during BWA disputes


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The days of householders paying to have their water meters checked, or facing disconnection during protracted bill disputes are over.Word of this has come from Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe, who said these were among a number of customer service improvements at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to be rolled out in the short term, as the beleaguered authority seeks to improve its service level.Noting that delinquency, which cannot be linked to customers’ financial circumstances, is likely to be as a result of their dissatisfaction with the current service, Lowe intimated: “Once we’ve improved the service, what we will find is that there’s going to be a better response from the customer relative to paying for their water services.”Identifying niggling problems with incorrect bills as a “proverbial fly in the BWA’s ointment”, Lowe said this might be due, in part, to faulty meters, which are currently being addressed.“One of the things that we were doing in the past is that when a meter had to be pulled to be checked, we were charging the customer. I have just issued a policy in the BWA where this has to be stopped immediately. I do not believe that it is fair to ask a customer to pay for the servicing or checking of a meter, which is the property of the BWA, so this should be discontinued immediately,” he said.The minister also spoke to the previous practice of disconnecting a customer’s service when investigations were ongoing following bill disputes, assuring that this, too, would be a thing of the past.He pointed out the BWA had also embarked on a number of changes to its customer service arm, including the hiring of a communication specialist, to liaise with technical staff as well as with customers in the field.In this regard, Lowe disclosed that the BWA had been able, in some instances, to limit their response times to within 24 hours, with the communication specialist ensuring that complaints, especially those made after hours, were expeditiously logged and  dispatched to work teams.Additionally, the minister disclosed that within the next three to four weeks, the BWA would also be launching a new customer service arm.Crediting the turnaround at the BWA, which he believes has already started, to be partially due to the efforts of executive chairman Arni Walters, Lowe stressed that while the challenges were “not easy”, Walters had taken on the authority fearlessly. (BGIS)


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