Lodge Complaints with Utility Providers First – OUR

Photo: Dave Reid Director General of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Ansord Hewitt (2nd right), presents a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Kent Gammon (2nd left), while Chief Executive Officer of the CAC, Dolsie Allen (left), and General Counsel for the OUR, Cheryl Lewis, look on. The MOU, which was signed on January 19 at the CAC’s corporate offices in St. Andrew, aims to streamline the operations of the CAC and the OUR to achieve speedy redress for consumer complaints.

Story Highlights

  • Consumers are being urged to lodge complaints with utility providers before seeking the assistance of the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) for redress.
  • “Our urge is that (consumers) use the company as the first stop, because the company must have mechanisms to resolve the complaints of their customers and we are going to hold the companies accountable for that,” said Director General of the OUR, Ansord Hewitt.
  • The OUR is mandated under the Office of Utilities Regulation Act 1995 to regulate the provision of prescribed utility services and carry out such investigations, to determine whether the interests of consumers are adequately protected.

Consumers are being urged to lodge complaints with utility providers before seeking the assistance of the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) for redress.

“Our urge is that (consumers) use the company as the first stop, because the company must have mechanisms to resolve the complaints of their customers and we are going to hold the companies accountable for that,” said Director General of the OUR, Ansord Hewitt.

“Once you have had a response from the utility (company) and you are dissatisfied, you can come to us and we will look to see whether the utility has followed its own processes and the decision they have made is consistent with the law and the policy, and we then make a determination,” he noted further.

Mr. Hewitt was speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the OUR and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), which will see the entities working more closely to provide speedy redress for consumer complaints.

The agreement, which was signed on January 19 at the CAC corporate offices in St. Andrew, will also streamline the operations of the agencies in order to achieve greater efficiency in operations.

The MOU will commence with immediate effect and sets out the framework for cooperation between the entities in carrying out their respective statutory responsibilities relative to consumer protection.

Noting that the work of the entities often intersects, Mr. Hewitt, said the agreement seeks to set out clear protocols by each agency to prevent duplication and ensure continuity and consistency in enforcement of objectives.

Under the MOU, both parties will share information and referrals and work collaboratively to conduct investigations; and coordinate consumer protection enforcement and public education outreach activities as it relates to the provision of electricity, telephone and water services.

Chairman of the CAC, Kent Gammon told JIS News that the entity is seeking to partner with other state agencies to address consumer complaints and achieve redress.

These include the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, National Consumers League and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“I look forward to other state agencies coming on board with us… with the ultimate goal of ensuring that we have a more efficient way of treating with complaints by consumers, meeting with their demands and providing redress for complaints and grievances,” the CAC Chairman said.

The OUR is mandated under the Office of Utilities Regulation Act 1995 to regulate the provision of prescribed utility services and carry out such investigations, to determine whether the interests of consumers are adequately protected.

Under the Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the CAC is mandated to carry out investigations in relation to the sale of goods or the provision of services to determine whether the goods were sold, or the services were provided in contravention of the Act, and seek to resolve disagreements between consumers and providers.

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