Man's inhumanity to woman Consumer Concerns
By Eileen Cox
Stabroek News
April 7, 2002

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"Holding goods under a claim of right should not be larceny": This heading drew our attention to a letter by Winston Collins in the Stabroek News of 16th May last year. A consumer, ignorant of the law, took away a motor cycle from a man who owed him $50,000. He returned the motor cycle the very next day but was arrested and charged. A magistrate sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

It is not generally known that holding goods as security for a loan, without the owner's consent is regarded as theft and, as happened in the case mentioned above, can lead to a term of imprisonment. A Court Order must first be obtained.

It seems also not to be widely known that only licensed money lenders can lend money. However, it is not unusual for a friend to `advance' money to someone in need. When the advance is not repaid, there is no recourse to the law. You've had it!

The days of autograph books passed around to school friends ceased long ago and with them went many valuable precepts.

One of our favourites was -

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be

For loan oft loses both itself and friend

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."

The decision of the Board of Directors of the New Building Society to hold the Annual General Meeting at the Convention Centre of the Ocean View International Hotel has sent a message to the many small shareholders of the Society - they should no longer have a say in the operations of NBS. The median that is built outside of that hotel prevents elderly and handicapped persons from crossing to the southern side of the so-called highway when they leave the hotel. In addition the No. 44 mini-buses that ply that route travel "at a lick" and make crossing the road a highly dangerous exercise. The elderly are more concerned with life and limb than the young.

Many small shareholders will presumably miss the meeting which they welcomed as a bright spot in a dull life. It was an occasion to fraternise and take part in the operations and decisions of the Board of Directors. Many consumers are now complaining of unusually high light bills. The meter reading is wrong, they claim. For this reason it is advisable that every householder should learn to read his meter. The Guyana Power & Light Inc., at a meeting with the Guyana Consumers' Association representatives, promised to give attention to this.

Some consumers claim that they use only one bulb and a refrigerator. Little do they know that a refrigerator can send a meter racing if the gasket on the door is not fitting perfectly. It should not be possible to slide a sheet of type-writing paper through the closed door of a refrigerator. If the paper enters, then it is obvious that cool air is escaping from the refrigerator twenty-four hours a day resulting in a high consumption of electricity.

When a consumer complains of an excessive charge, GPL should send a well-trained meter reader to check the meter reading and the appliances used in the home. It would seem that counter clerks advise complaining consumers to pay up or be disconnected. This should not be the first step.

It is also suggested that a container with ice should be kept in the freezing compartment of a refrigerator - if there is space for it. This keeps the refrigerator cool during outages. Before refrigerators became affordable it was the custom to make ice chests by lining a wooden packing case with galvanised iron and fitting it with shelves. A hole was made at the bottom through which the water could pass as the ice melted.

In our worst days of outages, blocks of ice were placed in the corners of a room to keep the temperature down when an important meeting was being held. Also, the bedrooms of our colonial houses were fitted with window sills which, we learnt, were to hold blocks of ice during the nights. "Remembering Cheddi" is the slogan of the day. Many of us remember Cheddi because he was approachable. Had he been alive we would not be still pressing for the income tax threshold to be raised from $18,000 per month nor would pensioners under the Dependants Pension Fund be weeping because of man's inhumanity to woman.