Concerns about GTT

Pat Dial
Pat Dial

The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co. (GTT) since its establishment in Guyana over a quarter of a century ago, has been doing better than any other company with an average profitability of 30% per annum.  In this process of harvesting these massive profits, they have exploited the Guyanese consumer.Their initial assumption when they came here and were able to acquire the Guyana Telecommunications Corp. (GTC) at a price and conditions on their terms which left Guyanese, both at home and abroad, stunned, led them to confirm their belief that Guyana was a banana republic with complacent and ignorant people.Guyanese were not the ignorant people they thought, and from its establishment there was much hostility and resentment as evidenced from the media and the minutes of the PUC’s hearings.  The company was very litigious and went to the courts whenever they could, knowing that it was the Guyana consumers who would ultimately have to foot the bill.

Then the company seemed to have had an inspiration and for the first time appointed a Guyanese, Major General (retired) Joe Singh, as Chief Executive Officer of the company. Singh was able to bring back some consumer trust.  When he demitted office, Yog Mahadeo was appointed.

Mahadeo was a nationalist and always ensured that the consumer and the nation were fairly treated but he was also fully committed and devoted to his corporate interest. This ability to synthesize his company’s interest with the consumer’s and national interest was a rare achievement.  Under Mahadeo’s watch, consumer and public confidence and trust in the company grew and even the government became more friendly and for the first time the feeling gradually grew that the company could become the country’s national telecommunications flagship company.

At this high point, Mahadeo demitted office.  The image of the company began a downward slide and relations with the public and government gradually declined.

GTT still has the potential of becoming the flagship telecoms company of Guyana and the preferable company by consumers but it has to nurture and develop along the lines mapped out by Mahadeo.

Instead of moving along these positive lines, GTT has started up a new debacle: Without the knowledge and permission of the consumers and the PUC, they clandestinely and stealthily inserted in the land line recordings so as garner more money from the consumer.  They seemed to be confident to be able to increase  rates and change the terms of service before consumers or the PUC could be aware of it.

The recording they inserted said words to the effect that the person telephoned was not in or was unavailable and came off after 5 rings.  In many cases the person was at home and the party telephoning knew this.  This misinformation by GTT caused much embarrassment.

The old, the sick and the poor are the ones who subscribe to land line phones because they do not make many calls and cannot afford cell phones.  When the telephone cuts off after five or six rings, old and sick people cannot get to the phone on time and so lose what could be an important call.  This aimlessly walking up and down by persons with arthritis is a distressing burden.

After the pitfalls of the first message was known, the company changed that message to invite callers to leave  a message for the person phoned.  This ploy was to try to deceive consumers into giving them the impression that it was something like voicemail on cell phones.  In point of fact, no messages were ever delivered.  Telephone conversations are very personal things and to have third parties intervening is unacceptable.

Just as this article was about to be dispatched to the newspapers, a member of the GCA telephoned to say that the recording had been removed from my phone and I assumed that it had been removed from all others.  But then one cannot be sure since GTT had clouded this whole illegal affair in secrecy.

The reason why it is illegal: (1) GTT has no right to change the rates or terms of service without the imprimatur of the PUC; (2) They have no right to intrude into a consumer’s or any citizen’s privacy; (3) Their stratagem of inserting a recorder so that when a caller answers, a charge is immediately registered is deceitful.