Del Benson, who has been a Saipan resident for almost 30 years now, says the power system of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is a mess and needs a total revamp. One particular sticking point is that CUC’s Power Division and Customer Service don’t seem to be communicating, causing customers to be frustrated, he said.
Speaking at CUC’s special board meeting last Wednesday, Benson appealed to the board to do something to improve the system as it is not fair to the customers and to the CUC employees as well.
“I feel sorry for your Customer Service people. They’re the ones on the front line that take a hit. They’re the ones that deal with the frustration,” he said.
CUC board chair Miranda V. Manglona said they will discuss the matter with the management and see what can be done about Benson’s complaint.
At a public comment portion of the board meeting, Benson said there are countless problems that he has personally encountered. “There is always something—deadlines not being met, phone calls not returned, surveys [saying] that people show up and they’d look at the wrong thing,” he said. “And so I’m pleading, quit talking and do something please.”
Benson said he shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to deal with some of these minor things. “Our system is a mess. And people get so frustrated,” he added.
“Why is there always a survey to come up with the price? The price should be known right then,” he said.
Benson said he has been on the island so long that he does not know what it’s like getting power in the United States. “But I have people say I just call up a number and they switch the power,” he said.
CUC, on the other hand, has laborious processes, especially with new hooks up, he said.
He said his son twice submitted applications for a new meter because his (Benson’s) brother has moved here, and the application has been pending for three months. “Customer Service drops the ball, they got confused. But no return calls,” he said.
He wonders if the board members are hearing the plea of the people. He said the board directors are in a position to do something so they must come up with a system.
“I think you need to totally revamp the system. It’s not working. There’s no communication going on here. And it’s a disruption. It’s slow. It’s just a waste of energy on our part,” Benson said. “So I would really appreciate you guys talking and doing something. I know a lot of times the board get together and…talk [of doing] a lot of things, then we never get things done,” he said.
Benson said he has not seen much of a positive change in CUC’s power system for many years now. “Yeah, we have money issues. Yeah, we have a lot of issues. But there are some core things that we can do,” he said. Part of that is to aggressively participate in the CNMI government’s efforts to transition to a software that will make government services more efficient.
“Changes are hard, I understand that. But please, I plead with you. Get your process under evaluation. Don’t patch it. Rework it,” he said.
Benson said when he comes in at the customer service, he also complains of the inefficiencies and the staff shake their heads and say they try. “It’s not being fair to the customer. It’s not being fair to your employees. And you guys are in the power to do something,” he told the board.
Benson did commend CUC for its “marvelous job” during the last super typhoon in 2018. “We all really took a hit. And I think a lot of people were patient, and I think your people worked their tails off and I appreciate that,” he told the board.