31 August 2015, Abuja – Inundated with consumer complaints, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has summoned all electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in the country to a hearing on alleged outrageous billings, based on estimated consumption.
The Council, in response to numerous complaints on estimated billings and non-provision of meters, summoned each of the distribution companies. It warned that absence by any of the companies at the hearing would be regarded as a violation of its enabling Act.
The consumer protection agency, in a circular dated August 26, 2015 and signed by its Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, fixed Monday, September 7, 2015 for the hearing on these issues.
The circular stated that the agency “has been inundated with complaints commonly referred to as ‘crazy billing’, by which Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) are alleged to arbitrarily determine consumption level of consumers of electricity and bill them accordingly”, adding that it also “received complaints that many consumers have paid for meters for periods spanning over 12 months, but are yet to be supplied same by their respective DISCOs”.
It pointed out that pursuant to these complaints, it has decided to commence investigation to “enable your organisation as well as other DISCOs make representation and individually state your position regarding the said complaints, particularly as they affect consumers in the area of your coverage.
“You are, therefore, by this letter summoned to attend, make representation and submit a status report on the aforementioned complaints in your area of coverage, including any other document or evidence, to support your position at the hearing”, the Council declared.
CPC, in its letter, cautioned the DISCOs to be “guided by Section 18 of the CPC Act that criminalises disobedience of summon, which includes neglect or refusal to attend and testify before the Council or to answer any lawful enquiry or to produce any document as may be required”, advising the companies to “note that, whether you attend or not, far reaching decisions, which may be of consequence to your operations, may be taken after the hearing”.
The Council’s action is in line with the dictates of its mandate, which empowers it to provide speedy redress to consumer complaints, ensure that consumers’ interest receive due consideration at appropriate forum and provide redress to obnoxious practices or the unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, firms, trade association or individual.