There is growing uncertainty about payment deferrals and disconnection for non-payment at the country’s leading telecoms providers amid reports that mobile and internet customers who are facing financial hardship as a result of covid19 are being disconnected for overdue bills.
Up to press time, a Flow spokesperson could not be reached for comment but state-owned TSTT appears to have doubled down on the issue. A TSTT statement issued April 9 and repeated on Tuesday suggested that while the company remained sympathetic to customers in financial difficulty, it had taken no official position to defer payments across the board for bmobile or Amplia customers because its own financial commitments could not be deferred.
“Additionally, the company has been incurring significant cost increases necessary to facilitate data traffic surges,” TSTT said.
But that position is at odds with actions undertaken over the past few weeks by Minister of Public Utilities and TSTT’s line minister Robert Le Hunte.
“I’m a little bit surprised by this,” said Le Hunte when told customers had reported disconnections for non-payment. “There was a position that we were going to be relaxing our disconnection policy. That was the position taken to provide some relief to individuals.”
Members of the public have made an appeal for service providers to ease their fees for one to two months for people who had lost their jobs or other earnings during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Digicel on Tuesday announced a number of changes to its own disconnection policy saying it had noted concerns about disconnections due to the non-payment of outstanding bills.
In a statement, Digicel said it would reconnect any customer who has been disconnected due to the non-payment of their bills within five hours of disconnection and offer an additional week to make a payment to prevent future disconnection.
The company said most of these disconnections happened automatically because its bill management and disconnection system was built to process thousands of customer accounts. To qualify for the payment plan and have service restored the company is urging customers to contact its customer service personnel.