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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hi guys;

We are trying to share some consumer information among ourselves. We have started a system on the facebook page where if you find a bargain any where in Barbados, at a shop, supermarket, store, gas station, market , where ever...you put it up on the face book consumer Watch Group page or send a message to us and we will put it up.we have had some response so far, so we are now asking you to do the same here on the blog.Keep the tips coming and maybe we can help each other a little bit in spending the few dollars we have

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Electricity Rate Decision

As we all wait to see whether there will be a symbolic challenge to the FTC's decision on electricity rate increases there has been very little publicity of the fact that one of the Commissioners (Andrew Brathwaite) registered some serious reservations about the decision.

Not one to be a pessimist I do not expect that the FTC would every overturn its "own" decision. So protesting has a symbolic but no practical value. One intervenor who is also a lawyer has however told me there are several legal grounds to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

Although he does not use the words Mr. Brathwaite's reservations which are included in the decision can be interpreted to speak to the issue of Rate Shock. In either words he is saying aspects of the decision to increase rates go too far. Put another way some of the increases are too high and will have a serious impact on the categories of customers they relate to.

In the meantime as consumers I urge that we seek ways to lower our energy usage, among other approaches to reduce th impact of the FTC decision.

Hallam Hope

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When will some business places learn about accepting or not accepting cheques

I am constantly amazed at the different systems some business places seek to put in place for the acceptance of cheques. The latest fiasco has been at gas stations.

Poor attendants!!!It appears they were told at a meeting not to accept cheques unless authorised to do so...fine...but please Mr. Manager you have to put a system in place.

At a gas station on highway 2 a...stickers were being given to customers whose cheques will be accepted. Of course the stickers ran out and customers were told that would not be a problem...

But when customers turned up at the pump and a less than friendly person ask: "Wha you paying wid..cash, cheque or credit cart?" and the customer says "cheque thank you". The gas attendant says.."hole on a minute ". Then he comes back and says the supervisor says "I cannot take your cheque" This has taken about 5 minutes already.

So the customer smiles and in her best voice she says" and why not"..the attendant says" don't ask me ask the supervisor". Well by now , the customer hair is standing straight. However she gets out of the car and goes to speak to the supervisor. To make a long story short, the supervisor says that the manager sent out a memo saying not to take cheques unless they are authorised.
The customer says well how do you go about finding out whether your cheque is authorised. Believe it or not the supervisor says.."I dont' know". Well the customer just pranced out the building and left the gas station.
Come on guys..Surely we can do better than this. I have heard of other gas stations asking you to fill in a form that has on your bank manager's name, your bank account number, etc etc.
Not to mention the supermarkets who ask you for ID even though the cheque is a company cheque.
I know that many businesses are ending up with RUBBER CHEQUES, but guys you make the decision to take or not to take....no matter how much ID and authorization you think you have, the cheque will still bounce and you will still have to go through the tedious process of trying to recover your money...It is something that goes with the territory so deal with it

Friday, February 5, 2010

Telephone rates rising

If you did not notice the advertisments telephone rates are rising. Effective March 1st, 2010 we will be paying a new basic residential telephone rate of 41 dollars and 21 cents. This is an increase of 4.295 per cent if my maths is correct. LIME could have opted for 4.5 per cent so let's give thanks and praises (not literally). The previous Price Cap ruling by the Fair Trading Commission granted the company a seven per cent increase which created a strong wave of protest from several of us. Following various submissions when that came up for review a rate freeze was granted for a while and now the remainer of the Price Cap period will see this recent price announcement.
So apart from budgeting, including for the new electricity rates which are even more of a burden, what can ordinary citizens do? Well we need to spend some time understanding the issues. Secondly we need to lobby for a better deal. The fact that a partial price freeze was given is some indication that not everything falls on deaf ears at the FTC.
The Commission however appears far more conservative than in the past hence research is needed for the future revision.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Electricity Rate Decision

Electricity Rates To Rise
An increase in electricity rates was not unexpected.
But the token decision to approve a 10 per cent rather than 10.48 per cent and shave just 3.1 million dollars from the proposed revenue requirement was surprising.
Prior to the decision on January 28th, 2010 small businesses an householders ahd expressed concern tha their bills had increased without any substantial change in their usage. The rate increase effective March 1st. hs already been criticised by the Small Business Association and the ordinary consumer.
Interestingly one commissioner, chartered accountant Andrew Brathwaite has expressed reservation in part about the extent of the increases for some categories of consumers, namely Large Power and Secondary Voltage Power (SVP). He said there would be significant instantaneous increases for these customers of BL&P and his preference was to avoid this by moving more gradually towards cost.
My concern all along is that the application would have led to a rate shock for ordinary consumers as the company moved top rebalance rates by requiring them to pay substantially more than large power customers.
Although BL&P now has to return to the FTC with amended rates as a result of the decision my position remains that ordinary consumers have not been dealt a fair hand in this decision.
The FTC has attempted to soften the inpact at the lowest usage level, but this is expected to prove quite inadequate as there already exists a povert gap between those who can afford a reasonable lifestyle and those who cannot. This decision and increased telephone rates can only worsen the situation for the working poor and unemployed.
Hallam Hope

Saturday, September 19, 2009



Lets move this thing on...This blog has been up for nerly a year with limited success. The cry is still out there for a 'VIBRANT CONSUMER ORGANIZATION". Two of us from this blog are making another effort to do so. YOU MUST PLAY YOUR PART.. Click on the link and fill out the membership form and send it back to us.

I am sure that you too have been privy to the poor, bad, non existent customer service in this country as well as the ridiculously high prices.

The consumer is the being that could have some type of effect on both..

Lets do it....Go now to the link and fill in the form and send it back. We will then call a meeting in November with everyone that has signed up and go from there.

Its up to you the consumer now.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Electricity rates and the FTC

When David stood up to Golliath he had pebbles and a sling shot. But against BL&P which had two years to prepare a case the FTC has taken away both the sling shot and pebbles from the consumer. An informed review of the deadlines for the rate hearing shows that Intervenors have very tight deadlines and in some cases a few weeks to respond. Contrary to he one-way flow of information readers of this blog would be aware that the bigget costs are to be borne by those who can least afford it while Large Power are bearing the least increase overall.
Dr. Marion Williams made the point recently that in these times a safety net should be provided for the least who can afford it while those who can should bear a larger burden. The BL&P application does not reflect this. The largest increase is borne by the residential consumer, the next largest increase is borne by the small business and NGO, Churches etc and the Large Power users are to bear the least increase.
Is this fair?
And why is BL&P changing from an across the board rate proposal to an "inclining block". Would an across the board increase not be easier for a consumer to budget for? Why is the BL&P using a test year of 2008 when this was the year when the global energy crisis was at its highest. Would the application not be inflated against the interests of the consumer as a result?
What do you think?
Hallam Hope

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