Power outages, poor service should be linked to auto refunds

Businesses are not cushioned from outages. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Businesses are not cushioned from outages. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The rains are here, and like many Kenyans who do not live near key installations served by dedicated power lines, having reliable power for both home and office can be a game of chance.

Unfortunately, I have never once heard of restitution to a customer, resulting from downtime, scheduled or otherwise from the electricity transmission and distribution monopoly.

That electricity is a key element in all factors of production and needed for the addition of value and maximisation of outputs across industries, should say something about the service guarantees that should be available to consumer’s turnkey.

While Kenya Power provides very relatable context, internet service providers seem to be of the same pedigree, with recent outbursts on poor service quality and outages trending online.

Say that you run an ecommerce business and access to connectivity to your infrastructure and to the outside world for a myriad of tasks — marketing, payments, fulfilment, customer service etc — is compromised for hours or perhaps days from zero or subpar bandwidth. Or that, in the context of a household, you have paid a premium cable subscription to run a full kitchen yet you sit in candle light several days in any given month. Beyond the cookie cutter apology template that customer service representatives regurgitate, have you ever felt that you have been adequately compensated for downtime? Chances are that for the majority the answer to this is a resounding no!

Here lies the opportunity to entrench a different way and demand better remedy from service providers to what we consider critical physical and digital infrastructure. It would, however, call for creation of a legal framework that would make automated data supported claims admissible.

Now imagine a smart plug that confirms the availability and state of your power supply, a smart dongle that constantly polls your connection quality, mashed with data from a mobile app on services that you consume and block chain inspired access to your records from the service providers that compensates you automatically for anything that would fall outside a demanding service level agreement.

Wishful thinking? Perhaps not.