The Consumer Protection Council on Thursday warned electricity distribution companies against imposing arbitrary charges on consumers.

The Director-General, CPC, Babatunde Irukera, gave the warning in Abuja at a meeting with the top management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company led by its Managing Director, Ernest Mupwaya

He said that arbitrary billing and group disconnection of electricity consumers without consideration for those paying their bills constitute gross abuse of consumer rights.

Irukera noted the challenges facing the sector, but stated that this is not an excuse why consumers should be poorly treated.

He said, “There is no excuse for how consumers are treated. The key complaints that we receive are arbitrary, unsupported and unreasonable billing; people not being treated with dignity.

“The complaint resolution process is either lacking or unclear and there’s really no respect for people.”

The DG lamented that consumers’ complaints have not been primarily about supply, but about billing for electricity not supplied.

He said, “As a matter of fact, a vast majority of supply complaints are attributed to the fact that you are asking them to pay for something that was not supplied and the other significant reason is group disconnection.

“DISCOs have got to a point where no one takes their bills seriously anymore, because they are considered outrageous.

“I think the pressure on metering will not be so bad if the estimated billing was more transparent and reasonable.

“What DISCOs are doing is connecting their balance sheets to receivables from consumers, but consumers are connecting what they owe to what they receive.”

Irukera warned that connecting balance sheet to an arbitrary metering system is the worst form of abuse, especially for an essential public utility.

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