Kingston, Jamaica — (METERING.COM) — November 1, 2011 – New electronic meters being installed by the Jamaica Public Service Company for residential customers have been found to be accurate and are not themselves responsible for the high bills experienced by some customers, according to a new study from the Office of Utilities Regulation.
The study, which was led by independent investigator J. Paul Morgan, found “no evidence that would bring the accuracy and integrity of the electronic digital meters into question.” Instead JPS was rebuked for having failed to “recognize and intercept the anomalous bills and to address them proactively and sensitively with the customers affected.”
According to the study, approximately 23 percent of all customers who had an electromechanical meter replaced with an electronic one would have experienced some change in consumption attributable to the meter replacement. Of these, about 18.8 percent would have experienced a high increase in consumption, above 30 percent, with the majority of these cases most likely attributable to the old meter under-reading due either to age (the meters being replaced having been in service since before 1995) or tampering.
Thus, the study suggests, of the approximately 17,000 meters that are to be changed in the current program, about 3,000 can be expected to experience some issues of high billing associated with the metering. In the light of this, JPS could well consider establishing special customer service units to deal with these issues.
The study, which was aimed to investigate JPS’ billing, meter replacement, meter inspections and audit, and meter testing practices and procedures, also found that the company’s customer service practices need “major overhaul.” In some of the cases reviewed, the attitudes of customer service representatives to customers who had been billed excessively were reportedly abysmal in many instances, the study states, continuing to direct JPS to review its complaint handling procedure and issue a code of practice within six months.
The study also noted there was sufficient discovery of meter tampering and illegitimate connections so as to conclude that these activities are probably widespread and embedded across the JPS system.