CHRISTIANSTED — They thought they were the lucky ones.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) connected them to electricity on St. Croix at 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 16 — one week before Thanksgiving.
It was so relatively “early” in the game for people living on St. Croix, that they didn’t tell their friends or co-workers that they already had power.
Five weeks later a Grinch-like WAPA took it away from them — cut off from power just six days before Christmas.
WAPA is notorious for treating customers on St. Croix’s East End worse than anyone else in the territory — now they went and proved it.
They want to make sure as many people as possible on the Big Island can spend Christmas in the dark … and have a very special Black Christmas.
The WAPA customers told the Virgin Islands Free Press Monday that their landlords are off-island for medical treatment and therefore did not pay the bill — leaving the sorry tenants holding the bag for the difference.
“I don’t know if the bill is $100.00, $25.00 or $2.50 — but WAPA cut us off just the same,” the WAPA customer said. “I don’t think they have a threshold for not cutting someone off, so if you owe one penny to WAPA on Friday, they will probably cut you off for spite — two days before Christmas. The heartless, soul-less bastards didn’t even do us the courtesy of sending a warning notice first in the mail.”
What’s worse, WAPA turns people off by computer now — no one comes out to house house and does it manually any more. When they did, you had one more opportunity to present WAPA with a check and avoid the cutoff.
“That wouldn’t have helped us,” the customers observed, “we work all day. Leaving when it is dark in the morning and coming home when it is dark at night.”
What’s worse is that the customers affected are connected to the hurricane restoration efforts on St. Croix — that’s why they are almost never home.
“We trusted that the landlords had done the right thing and paid the bill early, since they knew they had good-paying tenants,” the upset WAPA customers said. “We don’t even know what our WAPA account number is — because the bill is in the landlord’s name. We took a picture of the meter — we’ll take that to WAPA along with our property address and see if we can pay the bill where we live — we’ve heard that they’re pretty picky, and if you don’t have a lease they’ll leave you cut off for spite. They seem to really despise the customer at WAPA — and go out of the way to treat their customers poorly. I’ve heard them say: ‘this one is disgusting, that one is disgusting’ when I was waiting with a friend to get a new account. Where I’m from, ‘the customer is disgusting’ are not words that come out of the customer service representative’s mouth — under any conditions. They really have bad manners, no people skills and appear to have no customer service training whatsoever.”
The angry WAPA customers said that someone else was living on the property they are in during and after Hurricane Maria and that they object to paying someone else’s bill just to have electricity; instead, they say they will move to another residence.
“It’s not fair to get stuck with someone else’s bill,” the customers said. “It’s probably pretty high. We should start off with a fresh slate. That would be more fair.”
Their names and addresses of the WAPA customers who have come forward have been withheld for fear of further government retribution by WAPA or Gov. Kenneth Mapp.
According to WAPA, it “resumed billing operations Monday,” according to a news release from WAPA spokesman Jean Greaux Jr.
Which really means, that WAPA began cutting off electricity to customers — just days before Christmas — because they have the “power” to do so.
“The Authority is sympathetic to the hardships faced by the residents of the Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Greaux claimed. “While WAPA has attempted to ease the burden of customers, billing for services rendered can no longer be postponed. Therefore, WAPA advises customers that billing operations resumed on Monday, December 18, 2017.”
Greaux has stated publicly that people who have been connected by WAPA and then disconnected by WAPA will not count in its 90 percent-connected-by-Christmas count of the territory …
You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch …ur WAPA!