Letters to the Editor

Stop fighting landline rate reduction, FLOW!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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Dear Editor,

It was only back in 2013 that then CEO of LIME (now FLOW) Garfield Sinclair was busy on every media platform posing as the great defender and 'value champion' of lower mobile termination rates for the benefit of overburdened consumers who were paying as high as $17 per minute to make a local call. On every occasion, he would urge the Office of the Utilities Regulation (OUR) to act quickly so that his company could pass on the savings to consumers.

Now, in 2017, that very same company seems to be doing the exact opposite by fighting tooth and nail to postpone the OUR's implementation of a reduction in landline termination rates by 90 per cent, leaving the still overburdened consumers with the prospect of a long wait to get another overdue price break. Oh, the irony!

To think that in the space of a few years FLOW would now be climbing the steps of the Supreme Court seeking to delay implementation of cheaper landline rates from the next six months to at least two years is downright shocking. Has our 'value champion' traded its armour?

Apart from businesses, just look at who else uses a landline these days; mainly the elderly who don't understand smartphones and so they need the convenience of their home phone to reach loved ones and call for help. FLOW would seem to want these pensioners to wait another two years for it to begin reducing landline rates before grandma and grandpa can have a little extra to spend on medication. By then some of them would have died waiting while FLOW protects its interest.

What amazes me is the silence of consumer rights groups like the Consumer Affairs Commission, and other groups like the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, even the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association. I would have expected them to be coming out in support of consumers and their members getting a price break on landline calls much sooner rather than later. Even the Government could benefit from the per minute rate reduction, but not a word from public sector spenders who write big cheques to FLOW for monthly phone bills for various ministries and departments.

The new FLOW CEO, Stephen Price, had better get the price right on landline calls very soon in the same way his predecessor championed the cause for mobile. Otherwise, he could end up being a pricey replacement.

Over to you consumer rights groups and anyone wanting cheaper landline rates. Let's act today, and not in 2019 or 2020.

Barry Broadwell





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