Long lines at Gebe after employees call in sick


Raymond Jessurun: “Time for a policy to compensate consumers”

St. Maarten – Utilities Company Gebe and telecom provider TelEm were not exactly doing a favor to their clients who came in to pay their bills. Windows to service senior citizens were closed and at Gebe there was a long line because there was only one window open. The explanation? Employees had massively fallen (or reported) ill after the Christmas weekend.

Raymond Jessurun, the first Vice President of the Seniors and Pensioners Association was among those caught off guard yesterday. “I think it is about time that we demand a policy to fine all service providers – be it privately owners or government owned entities – and compensate each consumer who is not getting a correct and timely service,” he said.

Jessurun decided not to wait until the end of the month to pay his bills at TelEm and Gebe, thinking he would avoid long waiting times on both occasions.

“At TelEm the seniors window and all other cashier windows were closed,” Jessurun reported. “Only the Top Up window was open so there was only one teller working. That was at 11.30 a.m.”

Jessurun joined the Top Up line, even though the window indicated that it was only handling top ups and pre-paid cards. After waiting half an hour, he managed to pay his internet and landline bill.

At Gebe the situation was even worse: Jessurun could not enter the building and had to wait outside with others because there were already too many customers inside. To add insult to injury, those waiting outside had to look at a sign Gebe had posted on a window that read: “Our apologies for the inconvenience as we upgrade our services.”

When Jessurun entered the building he found that the seniors line was not open. He had to join the long line of customers for the only window that was open. Other seniors complained to him, asking what they could do about the situation. Jessurun approached a security guard who advised him to go outside, around the building and ask the receptionist for the supervisor.

“The very polite receptionist informed me that the supervisor was on lunch and that other workers were sick and that this is why there was only one line.”

A security officer told Jessurun that there had been a lot of complaints all morning because of the long line.

Jessurun went on to take the pictures that accompany this article. “This is not the first time that I met this situation. I decided to complain on behalf of the senior and all other consumers who had to endure this lousy service,” he said. “Just as the company can claim SZV for the loss of working Days for workers that do not show up at work for whatever sickness, we as consumers also should be compensated for the loss of time or the loss of continued quality service and the lack of customer care.”

Jessurun noted that commercial banks, cable companies and public companies like Gebe and TelEm are always quick to fine consumers for late payment or to cut off their service. “But when we are in a long line to pay our bills on time there is no quick customer service, no seniors line and no discount because we had to wait too long in line.”

“When TelEm, TelCell or UTS is not providing the quality of service and is giving us all kinds of apologies like “all circuits are busy” or “this person cannot be reached at this moment” or when Gebe is interrupting the electricity or water supply for whatever reason, there is no fine for these public entities and no discount for us consumers to compensate us for a failing service.”

Source: Today SXM Long lines at Gebe after employees call in sick