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Man returns cable set top box to Karib Cable to protest ‘crappy service’

Man returns cable set top box to Karib Cable to protest ‘crappy service’


The man who returned his Karib Cable box on Thursday to protest changes to the channel line-up was disconnected a year ago for non-payment.{{more}}

Phillip Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that he has not paid for his services for the past year, as a means of protesting what he considers to be the “crappy service” provided by the telecommunications company.

He, however, explained that taking in the box was part of his protest against customers having to pay for education-oriented channels as part of a separate package.

“The cost of educational channels like Nick Jr and Discovery Kids (not offered in SVG) should not be an additional to the basic charge,” he said.

“This barrier prevents poorer families from accessing the very content that can help their children improve their prospects at learning, especially early childhood learning.”

Last Thursday, Jackson took his protest a step further when he returned his cable box to the company.

Jackson, like many other persons who were heard calling in on various radio programmes, has been inquiring whether the box is needed in order to receive cable service.

A National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) official, who asked not to be identified, told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the boxes used by the cable providers are not absolutely necessarily, but that’s the way the company set up its system.

After handing back his box to a Karib Cable customer service representative, Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT he is convinced that the service delivered by Karib Cable to citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines is expensive, discriminatory and non-developmental.

He, however, said he believes the box is only an attempt to restrict individuals with the signal in their houses and it is creating a higher opportunity cost for learning, entertainment, development and the cost is just too high.

“The famous yellow boxes are totally unnecessary,” Jackson said, adding that the cost of additional boxes for cable service must be addressed.”

He said the boxes and the expense they cause have prevented a lot of people from enjoying educational shows and entertainment shows because now most people are restricted to only one box because they can’t afford others.

“Could you imagine the type of conflict that creates in a home?” he said.

“And think about a schoolchild who wants to look at an educational programme on Discovery Channel [while] his father wants to look at CNN.

“It means that every time that that child has to pay a high opportunity cost, because it therefore means he’s losing that learning opportunity. And that can be multiplied by any number of members in the family,” Jackson said.

Jackson further said that in St Lucia, where Karib Cable also operates, there are more benefits for subscribers than in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

His statements are based on research he conducted before making the decision to withdraw himself as a customer and return the cable box, he said.

“I studied the whole landscape regarding Karib Cable and its behaviour and I compared it and I was sufficiently convinced that it was time to come and make this move,” Jackson added.

He said Karib Cable customers in SVG pay $25 extra for what is offered in the basic package in St Lucia.

“That is why I say that their services is also discriminatory and it therefore means it … puts our young people at a disadvantage as it relates to others, because they are getting so much more.”

He said that a price comparison shows that Vincentian customers would have to pay $100 more to get St Lucia’s basic package.

“… I don’t think it’s fair and I think its backward and I don’t think it advances the agenda of our people to lift themselves up to learn as much as they can and the price of development is too high in that regard,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lincoln “Pres-E” Prescott, who stages a one-man protest weekly outside Karib Cable, commended Jackson for his “bold move”.

Prescott, who has been staging his protest for the past year, said it is successful and that Jackson’s action is a step in the right direction.

He urged like-minded Vincentians to do the same.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, last week in Parliament said he joined with “the overwhelming majority of subscribers to Karib Cable” to express the dissatisfaction of the government with the service provided by the company. He warned that if they do not improve their service to Vincentians, investors would be actively sought to give them competition in this market.

Karib Cable also operates in Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda.

Efforts to contact Karib Cable’s management in relation to the matter proved futile up to press time yesterday.