Sometimes, consumers are dissatisfied with the quality of utility services they are provided with or they may have problems with aspects of utility service provision.
Notwithstanding this assertion the utilities have on some occasions responded commendably to complaints, but the general view is that consumer concerns and complaints are neither promptly nor adequately dealt with.
It is in this regard that the PURC in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities has issued regulations for the submission, hearing and determination of matters pursuant to its powers under the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act 1997, (Act 538).
The Regulations, known as the Public Utilities (Complaints Procedure) Regulations, 1999, (LI 1665) came into force in January 2000 after the due Parliamentary process.
HOW TO COMPLAIN
Any person who has a complaint against a public utility shall in the first instance complain directly to the utility concerned for redress. Where a complaint made directly to a Utility Service Provider is not satisfactorily or promptly dealt with, the complaints shall be re-directed to the PURC.
Filing of complaints to the Commission is governed by the following rules:
- A complaint to the Commission may be written or oral
- A written complaint must be addressed to the Commission.
- Where an oral complaint is made, or where the complainant cannot read or write, the complaint will be put into writing by an Officer of the Commission designated to receive complaints. The complainant may also select a person of his choice to write down the complaint for him or her.
- Where the complaint is written down by a person other than the complainant, it will be read over and explained to the complainant in a language that he or she understands, and there will be a declaration to that effect on the complaint.
- The complainant must indicate that he or she understands what has been read over and explained before appending his / her signature or thumb print to the complaint.
A complaint lodged with the Commission must contain the following:
- The full name, contact address and account number of the complainant.
- The utility or person against whom the complaint is being made.
- Particulars of the nature of the complaint, together with copies of any document in support of the complaint.
- The nature of the injustice or harm that the complainant has suffered as a result of the action, inaction or omission of the person or utility against whom the complaint is being made.
- The relief being sought by the complainant.
- Any other matter relevant to the complaint.
- Where the person who lodges a complaint is acting on behalf of another person, company or organization, he or she must state in writing the capacity in which he or she is acting, and the reason for doing so.
HOW DOES PURC RESPOND TO A COMPLAINT?
- When the Commission receives a complaint, a copy is forwarded to the utility providing the service, which must respond to the Commission within five days.
- The Commission conducts a preliminary enquiry and where the complaint can be resolved by mediation and settlement, officials of the utility and the complainant is invited and settlement is initiated.
- If agreement cannot be reached, the Commission will conduct formal hearing where parties will be given the opportunity to state their case before a panel representing the Commission.
- Persons appearing may be represented by legal or other experts or by themselves.
- At the conclusion of the formal hearing, the panel will submit a full report, which includes their ruling and recommendations on how the complaint should be resolved to the Commission. The Commission will then consider the panel’s report and make an order or issue a direction whichever one is applicable.