Water and bills management
The controversy over Arms Ltd, the company set up by Enemalta and the Water Services Corporation to issue their bills and collect payment, is far from over. The letter columns of the printed media, The Times in particular, are proof of that. However, progress has been made since the company management was changed.
Some bills are still late, indicating that there remains considerable catching up to do to bring every household and commercial entity up to date. The frustrating use of estimated bills is still in place. Yet, bills are catching up. The smart meters are being put to better use.
Recently I received a bill with a note saying that henceforth our smart meter will be accessed electronically so that actual bills are issued on a regular basis. How regular was not specified. I hope it will be not more than quarterly, to allow the country’s households to plan their payments properly.
This development affects only those of us who have had smart meters set up. Thousands others will still rely on traditional periodical readings by meter readers, and presumably will continue to get estimated bills until they get one based on actual readings and consumption. It would not be amiss if Arms Ltd was a little bit more forthcoming with the public and issued periodical state-of-affairs statements.
That would keep the public abreast of developments and aware when they might expect improvements in their particular regard. It’s not likely to cost the billing company all that much.
Customer care is a service which all companies and corporations of medium size provide. It is an important service which helps to bond the customer with the service provider. That is, when it is properly given. In this regard Arms Ltd provides a mixed experience.
I find that once you reach their customer people an excellent response and sensible guidance is provided. One might say that is what they are paid to give. Still, it is not every day that you get that kind of service.
Where I find that Arms Ltd fail to pass the efficiency test is until you manage to make contact with the customer care personnel. I am referring to contact by telephone, which I presume to exceed personal contact at the company’s offices.
One can also make contact and request a service by email which is fine in certain regards, such as submitting a reading, or making an enquiry.
But there may be problems which are best settled through question and answer on a direct basis.
That is where the telephone comes in. Or does it? All too frequently it is nearly impossible to get through to Arms Ltd on its main free phone, 80072222. Once you do that, you are usually guided quite efficiently to the point you require to contact, be it the Water Services Corporation or Enemalta, be it to ask for guidance, to make a complaint or to report a fault or a reading.
But getting through is as frustrating as can be.
I reconfirmed that on the Monday following the storms. As may be expected some households and commercial entities suffered power faults. In my case I wanted to establish whether the fault could be remedied by our electrician or whether it was due to the supply source.
It was nigh on impossible to get through. Once through and referred to the Enemalta free phone, 80072224, I encountered dead silence. My understanding was that Enemalta had itself suffered faults to its telephone lines. When that happens the relevant supply entities should coordinate to repair faults as a priority, in the knowledge that frantic calls would be coming in floods.
I should add that I managed to get through on a number in my directory, only to find it was a WSC phone. Ironically, my call went through without a hitch. The person who answered it was as courteous as could be and guided me how to try to get through to Enemalta on a couple of its numbers.
My experience cannot be unique. It is a fact that, faults aside, there is usually quite a queue to get through before reaching your free phone destination. Even that can be looked into to see if the inevitable delays are of an acceptable duration.
A bigger problem in this area is the unavailability of adequate water storage which hydrologist Marco Cremona, for one, expertly harps upon. Sunday and Monday after the storms were another example of how much rainwater is wasted.
That is not something Arms Ltd could act upon. Those who could apparently are not listening keenly enough. Or if they are, which probably is a more correct conclusion, their advice is not being heeded as much as it should. A generation of the same government should have brought far more solutions to the perennial problem of water shortage when our rainfall, if properly harnessed, could satisfy our needs without so much expensive reliance on reverse osmosis plants.