The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has determined that the Guyana Telephone Telegraph (GTT) must revert to issuing detailed paper bills as opposed to the company’s move to switch to electronic billing.
The PUC had heard extensive arguments in the matter during which submissions were made by GTT, PUC, the Guyana Consumers Association, and Ramon Gaskin – a GTT landline customer, who had complained changes to the format of his paper telephone bill for May 2019.
In August 2019, Gaskin had complained to the Commission that the format of his paper tax invoice (telephone bill) for his landline service for May 2019 was changed. He said that the new submission omitted details of his bill which were now only available via GTT’s online portal.
As a consequence, he noted that this unilateral change resulted in the exclusion of substantial billing information which were contained in previous paper bills. These were, the Calling Party Call table and overseas call details. The PUC facilitated a hearing on the matter during which GTT officials acknowledged failure to notify Gaskin of the change to the billing system and apologize.
The PUC had upbraided GTT for its failure to gave prior notification and effective educational campaigns to its customer in relation to the change in the billing format.
Further, the PUC criticized the fact that the utility company embarked on the new billing method without even notifying the Commission. The Commission rendered its decisions in October 2019 via Order 2 of 2019.
In Order 2 of 2019, the PUC ordered that GTT revert to its old system of dispatching detailed paper bills to customers.
But in a letter dated June 24, 2020, GTT, among other things, requested that the Commission review/varied Order 2 of 2019 in accordance with Section 77 of the PUC Act.
The PUC convened a hearing in relation to GTT’s application in August 2020.
During the hearing, GTT informed the Commission that its online portals allow consumers to access details of their transactions free of cost. It posited that it is compliant with Order No. 2 of 2019 which mandates that an option must be provided by the company to allow customers to opt out of receiving the new billing format and to receive the detailed paper bills free of cost.
GTT submitted that since Order No. 2 of 2019 was enforced, the company had received approximately 120 applications from its customers for detailed paper bills and to date 114 applications have been successfully processed. The company maintained that, with respect to the issuance of bills, it is guided by section 51 of the PUC Act No. 10 of 1999 and that nowhere in the Act does it state either format or the content to be contained in the bill.
But, the PUC in declining to vary Order 2 of 2019 noted that the summarized paper bill version as issued by GTT since May, 2019 lacks sufficient detail as it fails to set out the requisite information for the consumer.
In the decision signed by its Chairman, Attorney-at-Law Dela Britton, the PUC maintained that GTT is required to issue detailed paper bills to all persons who are desirous of receiving same.