By Caribbean News Now contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- Since cable television company Flow started operations in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), local consumers are reportedly unhappy with a drastic change to the channel line-up offered, apparently without consultation or warning.
Some consumers are said to be still unaware that there has been a change that will soon affect them and, additionally, many have complained that the internet has been much slower. There is also dissatisfaction in relation to the costs and, according to some Vincentians, they are being charged outrageous prices for a service that no longer meets their entertainment and educational needs.
Although Flow’s local manager Christopher Gordon and the regional vice president of sales and marketing were both quoted recently as saying that, among other things, they believe that Vincentians will soon see that they are getting value for their money, customers are unhappy because they feel that the company is showing a blatant disregard to their needs.
In the meantime, Flow has reportedly removed some favourite channels locally and, despite promising dialogue, the company has cancelled town hall meetings and representatives only appear on radio and television programmes that do not allow the public to interact with them.
Flow’s Facebook page
is bombarded daily by disgruntled customers, who complain about everything from being unable to speak to a customer service representative in SVG to technicians who fail to show up at their homes to correct problems, or leave having not solved the problem.
Many have also noted that, despite Flow's claim of being unable to offer certain channels in SVG for legal reasons, they offer the same channels in other countries in the Caribbean.
A small group of citizens (WE -- Working for Everybody) has been able to gain the signatures of over 1,000 disgruntled consumers. Its aim is to have a meeting with Flow in order to present the petition and the concerns of the wider Vincentian public in an attempt to formulate packages that benefit a greater number of Vincentians.
As the basic package being offered by Flow is currently viewed as unsatisfactory and many customers have already returned their cable boxes, WE has asked consumers to keep their boxes until the group has met with Flow. “
If negotiating with Flow fails then the next step would be to take in the boxes… disconnection,” the group said.
Last week, SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he is not pleased with the situation where it appears that Flow did not give enough consideration to the needs of the people.
In the wake of public complaints on radio, and on the streets, the prime minister and his cabinet have now opened up the market so that Flow no longer enjoys monopoly in SVG and a licence has already been approved for a Saint Lucia-based company, Spectra Inc, to begin operating in SVG and it has also been reported that LIME SVG is in the process of testing its television services.
Meanwhile, Flow has made all of their channels free until July 31; however, Vincentians are calling for a permanent fix to the problem, including better packages and better prices.