Okech Kendo: Consumers deserve respect
The year 2018 was rough for consumers, which is not to mean the previous years were any better for citizens who make an honest living. This year could be harder.
Service vendors look for every opportunity to exploit consumers. Rising debt, soaring cost of living, and anarchic corruption are signs of hard times ahead.
Is there a reason customers should pay parking fees at a supermarket? Is there a reason shoppers should buy shopping bags from retailer outlets? Before the ban on polythene bags, retailers absorbed the cost of baggage.
Is there a reason hospitals should charge parking fees? The longer the hospitals delay you, due to their operational inefficiencies, the more they charge for parking. The sick are subsidising corporate inefficiencies.
You pay a standard parking fees of Sh200 when you visit Kenya Revenue Authority Support Centre at the Railways Club. It does not matter how long you take at the service centre.
Huduma Centres were supposed to make it easier for wananchi to get quick and efficient services. But consumers have to pay additional costs in trying to be responsible citizens. Only in Kenya does money makers get away with such exploitation.
The popular Carnivore Restaurant may start charging consumers who go there overnight for entertainment. Let’s hope they have not started crowd-thinning measures by the time this article is published.
Kenya Power, ever more interested in scheming money from consumers, may start charging queuing fees when you visit Electricity House to complain about inflated bills.
You are also paying for emergency calls to report regular power outages. In well-organised countries, such lines are toll free. With two or three ’emergency’ lines, Kenya Power is operating in the dark recesses of prosecutable economic injustice.
Banks, the sharks of capitalism, may soon start charging waiting fees in banking halls. Sometimes you wait when only half the counters are active.
The sleeping giant, the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, will have to style up. The inherited ‘Kanju mentality’ undermines service and customer relations. Consumers suffer water rationing, even in the middle of a storm.
ISO-certified Kenya Power is arguably the champion of corporate misgovernance. The monopoly has been fumbling to disguise a crude attempt to force customers to subsidise fraud.
Its attempts to wriggle out of scandalous electricity billing would have been comical if it weren’t fraudulent. Consider this: A consumer complains of an inflated December 2017 bill of Sh13,493, up from a monthly average of Sh2,500, with current reading recorded as 7,621kWh, up from 6,987. Estimated consumption is given as 634kWh.
After the complaint, the same customer got a bill of Sh105,089, dated January 12, 2018. The reading is given as 1,807kWh, similar to a previous reading of 1,807. Consumption is recorded as 0kWh, levies:0, taxes:24. Zero consumption is billed Sh91,596, more than a previous estimated, fraudulent reading of 634kWh.
From the monthly average, it would take this consumer three and a half years, or 42 months, to consume power worth Sh105,089. Kenya Power wanted it once, without justification.
Two readers, one meter, different results: One read 7,721kWh, another saw 1,807kWh. The consumer saw 1,873kWh two days after the second reading.
How does an average monthly household power bill move from Sh2,300 to Sh18,000, or from Sh1,800 to Sh16,500? Or from Sh13,000 to Sh105,000?
Denial of creative accounting at KP does not convince cynics. Incompetence does not explain the dearth of numeracy at Kenya Power. It’s a scam executed at the expense of captive consumers.
The situation got murky after lawyer Apolo Mboya’s case was withdrawn. Kenya Power was directed to resolve the billing crisis within a month, without disrupting power supply to aggrieved consumers. This has not happened, even as consumers plead for fair play from Kenya Power fraud.
Two months after the court ruling, Kenya Power is still fumbling for a wriggle room out of the billing conundrum. Meanwhile con debt collectors such as one ‘Engineer Charles Mogoka’ is taking advantage of the company’s corporate gamble.
A corporation that once enjoyed good public relation has fallen into an unprecedented management low. And the Kenya Power insensitivity is still digging. A consumer uprising may be the way out.