The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) Company came under fire today at a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing for moving ahead with its new electronic billing service format, which can put hundreds of customers at a disadvantage.
Admitting that not even 80% of the country’s population has access to the internet, GTT forged ahead with its new e-billing service.
This move did not go well with customers, including political commentator Ramon Gaskin who filed a complaint with the PUC.
During the hearing at Cara Lodge, GTT’s Orson Ferguson explained that the company introduced its e-billing by means of the MyGTT App in support of the country’s green initiative, coupled with the technological growth and direction of the company and the country.
He highlighted that to date, through the initiative, GTT has seen a 30 percent decline in the number of customers being disconnected for non-payment – which speaks to the efficiency and convenience of the App.
But PUC Commissioner, Dr Leyland Lucas, questioned “what systems are in place to address situations such as we have before us where individuals either by choice or as a consequence of their maturity do not have the details that are necessary for them to feel comfortable paying GTT a bill?”
Dr Lucas contended that, with regards to the older generation, “many of them may not be savvy to some of the tools that some of the younger generation.”
In response, GTT said consumers can visit any retail store to obtain a copy of their bill, but they will have to pay a fee.
GTT’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Mark Reynolds, however, admitted that the company should have embarked on a campaign to notify and inform its customers of the change.
GTT also defended the move towards the e-billing system, insisting that 70% of the population has internet access.
However, PUC Commissioner, Rajendra Bissessar, contended that even if this is the case, it does not mean that this percentage of the population is internet savvy.
Moreover, former CEO of GTT, Dr. Yog Mahadeo, pointed out that the new system is forcing customers to ensure they have internet accessibility, which comes at an additional cost.
“There is nothing free. A person’s internet access is not free,” he contended.
The matter has been closed and adjourned without ruling.