OfReg making ‘truth’ rules for utilities

| 19/02/2019 | 23 Comments

OfReg, Cayman News Service(CNS): OfReg, the regulatory body which now has oversight of all utilities in the Cayman Islands, has opened a public consultation on proposed new rules to ensure that these providers tell the truth in their advertisements and promotions. Officials said the aim is to create a set of rules that will allow the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) to keep electricity, fuel, ICT and water companies honest and have a way of holding them to account if they are not.

The issue of misleading advertising has largely impacted the ICT sector because of claims made in campaigns by some providers over coverage and, in particular, broadband speeds, which continues to raise the concerns of elected officials and has been the subject of vigorous parliamentary debates in the past.

“The office considers that it is in the interests of the public that all marketing communications made available to consumers by utility providers be truthful, and not deceptive or unfair,” the consultation document states.

OfReg is asking for feedback from the public on the draft document, which consists of 41 proposed rules that have been divided into ten different parts. “Any specific claims mentioned in marketing communications should be able to be substantiated with credible evidence,” OfReg said.

It indicated that communications would be considered deceptive if they contain a statement, or omit information, that is likely to mislead reasonable consumers and is important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the service or product.

It would be unfair if it caused “substantial loss to the consumer” which they could not reasonably avoid, and this loss is not outweighed by the benefit. While exaggerated claims, or puffery, about a utility service that is being offered that a reasonable consumer is unlikely to take literally could be allowed, claims should not materially mislead the reasonable consumer, the regulator said.

When it comes to holding rule-breakers to account, OfReg is proposing a number of possible sanctions, including administrative fines, a direction to terminate a campaign, letters of public reprimand that would be considered in licence renewals, possible compensation to consumers, civil or criminal legal action.

The public consultation is now open to all and interested parties are encouraged to read the supporting document and to submit any comments, with supporting evidence.

The consultation document can be found in the CNS Library here, or on the OfReg website.

Responses to the consultation must be submitted to OfReg by 5pm on Friday, 15 March, and can be sent by email to consultations@ofreg.ky 

or by post to:

Utility Regulation and Competition Office
P.O. Box 2502, Grand Cayman KY1-1104

or delivered to the office on 3rd Floor, Alissta Towers 85 North Sound Rd, Grand Cayman.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think we all need to go on a conference for this?
    Any lodge members want to join us?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who is regulating OfReg?

    • Anonymous says:

      How silly is this headline. This is all they have to boast about? Jokers

    • Anonymous says:

      Hope they do something about the high price of gasoline in the Brac where the stations only pay 12.5 cents p gal. Duties and gets it delivered to them for the same price as Grand, yet its $ 5.14
      P. Gal.there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Instead of truth in advertising OfReg should concentrate on “truth in contracts” and make utilities provide the service that they are being paid for. Internet speeds is one common example.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Considering this is OfReg of all people, truth is why is this consultation not an online submission in this day and age? If they want engagement and respect, they should get with the times.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because first question would have to be.
      1) Are you a Lodge member
      If you answer no. Thank you very much for completing the survey.
      If you answer yes. we welcome your input please continue.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right. Trying to get to the consultation on their website makes me think we need a consultant to run a consultation on how to run consultations.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What does Of Reg have to say about Water Authority charging two people for the same water? I accidentally ordered more water than my tanks could hold and they charged me for it. They of course took the water and sold to someone else so the water was sold twice.

    CNS: Perhaps you could send a question to Auntie on CNS Local Life and she can make enquiries for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Water do potable water – Water Authority is sewage…needlessly confusing if you ask me.

      Water Authority have our account in the wrong name, so we, being good people, called to remedy their clerical error. They then demanded a 5-figure cash deposit surety along with name change request, under threat of cutting off our sewerage. Not even sure that’s legal, so, we’ll probably just leave their collection records incorrect for now!

  6. Anonymous says:

    What we really need is consumer protection legislation. Too many companies are getting away with providing substandard service and the only way to correct the problem is to have meaningful consumer protection legislation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even a consumer-driven “Angie’s List” of local vendors would be a helpful tool to separate swindlers from professionals. We’ve endured so many mid-stream shakedowns over the years that were too small for Grand Court, and too large for Summary. The mountebank have impunity to operate shams in the $25-60k range, knowing it will cost more to pursue them, with uncertain success in our courts.

    • Anonymous says:

      What they should make public is the fines/warnings or rebates they have secured for the consumers as a result of outages or inferior service provided.

  7. Anonymous says:

    ofreg busy trying to look busy….the nra would be proud

  8. Anonymous says:

    How much money will the public service waste trying to keep the private sector in check.

    Of course the private sector makes more work for the government and then complains about the cost. Get your act together and government would be alot less expensive

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can we please regulate politicians in the same way?

  10. Jotnar says:

    Matthew 7:16-20. Certainly applies to the utilities companies, but to Ofreg as well. And for that matter the government. Not seeing a lot of good fruit from any of them, and sad to say think that says a lot about the tree.

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