A Citizen’s Fight Against FLOW, no help from FTC

Barbados Underground highlights the following as a public service. If FLOW or DIGICEL want to make representation the blogmaster is open to sharing the other view. The blogmaster takes this opportunity to wish Intervenors every success in the electricity rate hearing due to commence on September 21, 2020. – Blogmaster

Around December 2, 2017, Flow moved wires from up stairs to down stairs for a telephone line,  the technician drilled the wire through the sewage pipe. Around February  2019 Digicel drilled through the same sewage pipe and installed the internet line,  The sewage was leaking through the house  at a slow pace, my grand daughter visited Barbados on holiday, and kept telling me, Granny your house is stink, I told her it the sea moss etc,  I also smelled it before and I use a lot  disinfectant sprays  to no avail, but she will still insist it stink, I searched upstairs downstairs, no dead rats, I found little small black  things like little snake coming through the bathroom sinks, in my bed I tried  grabbing one on my bed, the thing sting me like a ‘sanapee’, i found one in my house slipper so I been spraying my house slippers since.  ‘Sanapees’ and ants in the dining room and kitchen when Digicel contractor started to dig out the pipe, so many ants!

Around the month of June 2020 the Government issued a warring  asking Barbadians to secure their homes, I decided to installed bars at the windows, we had to moved the table with the computer and the one with the printer, and the carpet, that when we saw the sewerage leaking , it went under the floor boards and the stink was very strong.

I emailed Flow, their replied just a note stating we received your email  and it has a number, every time I email I got a number,  I got a letter delivered to Flow,  2 supervisors from flow came, one was very nice, the other very rude,  the nice one I knew his mother,  the rude one said Flow is not going to do that or this, In the meantime Digicel did the repairs to the house,  there did not paint the house inside or outside, just the part that was dug out and he asked me if I had any paint, I told him it maybe lighter I thought he was using it as base, but he just left it like that, Marshal the person who was in charge of the product, was to come back and redo the flooring her boss called and promised he will do the flooring and I will get compensation, so far I have not heard from him since March 2022.

After flow came and moved their wire out of the sewage and rewire, I did not hear from them. I sent a letter to Mr. Jenson Sylvester around Mar 16, 2021, no replied, so I went and demonstrated,  within 20 minutes of being outside Flow [Gabrielle  a very nice young lady  came to me, and asked to come inside so we can talk,  but I did not go, because a  beautiful young lady [Sandy] from the Nation saw me and told me she was going and get her camera and come back. Janet Taylor  and her team of lawyers we corresponded back and forth to no avail. I wrote Fair Trading, a  Mr. Stewart Carter said the commission has no jurisdiction over this matter.

I enclosed the picture of the damages, one picture is worth a thousand words.

See a few of relevant documents sent to FLOW to support claim and FLOW’s response.

Pay the Ransom


Submitted by Grenville Phillips II,

I visited the Bahamas to examine the damage from Hurricane Dorian. When I returned, I received a message from Flow to pay my phone bill. They said that I owed $383. Using Internet Banking, I paid $400 – then Flow blocked me from making calls from my cell phone.

After three days of inconvenience, I called Flow. They said that my account was in credit, but I was blocked from making calls until I paid $140 in roaming charges.
I explained that I paid the amount that Flow gave me. She said that the roaming charges were separate. I asked whether some of the money I already paid could be transferred to pay the roaming charges, so that I could use my phone immediately. She said that to use the phone immediately, I would have to visit Flow’s office.
I have learned that with some companies, I must look on the bright side to avoid getting overly frustrated. So, I decided that it could have been worse – Flow could have blocked me when I was in the Bahamas, which would have been disastrous.
I had to meet a client at 3:15 pm, and it was 2:15 pm. So I decided to risk going to the Flow office in Windsor Lodge first. I arrived at 2:43 pm.
The cashier said that my bill was already paid and was actually in credit. I explained about the roaming charges. She said that I could not pay those yet. I had to first visit one of their customer service agents, who would transfer the charges to their system.
The customer service agent told me that I had to pay $260. I asked what happened to the $140. She said that it did not include the taxes, and gave me the amounts. When I noted that the total was not anywhere near $260, she apologised – then said that it was actually $262.32.
My bill arrived approximately one month later. My roaming charges totalled $130.84, and I do not know how they calculated $262.32.
It was now 3:00 pm, and she asked me what I wanted to do. I said that I would pay the ransom. She completed the transfer and sent me back to the cashier. After I paid, the cashier told me that I could make calls if I turned the phone off, and back on.
It was now 3:10 pm, and I turned off the phone as I ran to my car. I had planned to explain to my client that I would be a few minutes late. When I turned it back on, I still could not make calls, so I used the heavy-foot technique and got to the site at exactly 3:15 pm.
The next day, I returned to Flow who removed the block. After turning my phone off and on, I was finally able to make calls.
In my opinion, Flow is extremely inconsiderate. I explained to several of their agents that I have my Internet, TV, land-line, and cell-phone with Flow, and I always pay my bill in full. I also travel around the Caribbean and always pay whatever roaming charges they demand – whether $200 or $2,000. They were unmoved.
Why were Flow so quick to block me from making calls, especially when my account was in credit? Why block me for relatively minor roaming charges of $140 incurred a few days before – and not yet on my bill?
Flow appears blind to what is needed. They have invested in a refreshingly welcoming customer introduction. But once the customer goes beyond the pleasantries, they get employees who seem hardened from having to implement lunatic policies on their fellow Barbadians for so long.
Flow is damaging their own reputation, by unnecessarily harming the productivity of their customers. The solution is simple – liberate their front-line employees to use their human discretion. Of course, they can continue to force them to implement stupid orders like soul-less robots.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com


The following is an exchange between Chris Halsall, telecoms expert and a FLOW representative regarding the importance of FLOW doi gn a better job to filter phishing emails passing through their servers to avoid security incidences for end users – David Barbados Underground

Hello Rochelle.
Thank you for your response.  And, yes, I know this was a “phishing” attempt.  This is what I said in the email I sent to your group, reporting the issue.
My clients are well educated, and have not clicked on any of the links.
However, it would be in FLOW’s best interests to filter such phishing attempts, since these emails are passing through your own email server(s) to reach your own clients.


On Fri, Nov 23, 2018 at 1:23 PM Flow Help <svc-customersvcmbx@cwc.com> wrote:

Dear Chris,
Thank you for your recent contact with FLOW. My name is Rochelle Mills and I will be able to help you with the points that you have raised.
Thank you for the information you provided.

We kindly advise you not to select any links provided in the email received.

However, if you have selected the link, kindly advise us so we can have your email password reset as this is a ‘Phishing Email.’

Apologies for any inconvenience.

If there are any more queries, feel free to contact us.

For additional information, you can visit our website at https://discoverflow.co/ or call our IVR, access our Flow 6 system for outage notification via SMS or payment and billing details at 1-800-804-2994 by pressing 1. You can also use our Flow App – “The Flow My Self Care App” to make even 3rd party payment

Thank you for making Flow.

Kind Regards
Rochelle Mills
FLOW Customer Service Team
This e-mail message has been scanned for viruses and content. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information contained in this e-mail. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender (whose contact details are above) immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments without retaining any copies. This email has been scanned by FLOW’s email security system.

–Original Message–

Another example.
Within this one they even include your help-desk phone number in the body of the message.
——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject: Customer Assistance: Suspected Abuse
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2018 07:23:47 -0500 (EST)
From: flowhelp@barbados.cwc.com <flowhelp@barbados.cwc.com>
To: flowhelp@barbados.cwc.com

We may be unable to deliver some outgoing mails on your account.  

Outbound mail function may have been disabled due to suspected abuse.

Please use the Account Settings option to effectively remove restrictions on all outgoing mails.

(For safety, this link will expire in 72 hours)


FLOW | Customer Assistance | Barbados| Cable and Wireless

Email: flowhelp@barbados.cwc.com|Tel: 1-800-804-2994

Please note: We are not liable for any data loss or service disruption suffered as a result of failure to adhere to information contained in this communication


The information contained in this communication is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and others authorized to receive it. It may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking any action in reliance of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by responding to this email and then delete it from your system. FLOW Barbados is neither liable for failure to adhere to information contained in this communication nor for any delay in its receipt.

© 2018 Flow. C&W Communications Plc. All rights reserved. Registered in England and Wales.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Going With the FLOW

Adrian Loveridge

It would seemingly appear that one of our major telecommunications companies, only relatively recently exposed to real competition and after decades of a virtual monopoly, has finally woken-up to the reality that most successful businesses are service driven and orientated.

Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we live in the hope that this is a real and genuine attempt to address and remedy, what is in any overall and fair consideration, has been long periods of what only can be described as delivering appalling customer ‘service’. Despite the many challenges we have had with the company, endless series of trading names they operate under and numerous management changes, we have remained loyal and faithful for almost 30 years.

Looking back through our accounting records, I recently found the initial deposit request of a $1,000 demanded and paid on the 28th November 1989 before phone connection would even be considered. Unlike other utility entities, not a cent in interest has been paid on this amount for the entire duration. Nowadays that deposit represents around three times our monthly billings.

In my humble opinion they have a long way to go. In our case three accounts and two companies requiring differently addressed cheques if you chose that method of payment. Opt to pay online and one account does not allow you to print out a receipt, where another does.

If, as frequently happens, you wish to report faults, then you succumb to the mercy of call centres, often finding answering staff who can barely speak English and where repetitive conversation to get the point across, is the norm.

I could go on, but these annoying and time wasting obstacles would easily be identified if senior managers within the organisation became customers for a day. It’s really as simple as that. Then for those at the top to ensure staff, at lower pay scales actually do the job they are being paid.

Another monumental dereliction of duty, at least to me, is that as the leading communications company, they have not played a greater role in our national economic recovery. Yes! I am aware of some of the philanthropic works and partnerships they have supported, but there is a massive void, especially in placing the emphasis of helping small business start-ups and growth.

So many more entrepreneurs could build their business by being able to accept online payments, as the marketing officer of one of our credit unions so eloquently pointed out in this publication recently. Again, this is not rocket science and it greatly concerns me that during our current fiscal challenges, that such obvious opportunities are not being better exploited, when it is clearly a win-win scenario for everyone.

As any small business expands, they use more communication options, resulting almost always in higher revenue generation, more taxes and increased employment. Purely from a tourism perspective, why don’t they have a SIM card issuing office in airport arrivals area and ensure visitors are made fully aware of this facility?

They could easily partner with the Barbados Tourism office.

Let us all hope that the full page ‘ads’ in the press (at the consumers expense) are not again lip service and we will witness a true transformation of this very privileged company, whatever its current name is.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Local Hotelier Sounds Off on FLOW ad Ask a Question of Airbnb

Seemingly never far from controversy or hoisting its own petard, Airbnb has recently claimed that it has generated US$6.5 billion for restaurants around the world in the last 12 months.

Across the 10 European cities cited in the report, including London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, guests have spent more than Euro 2.5 billion, Euro 700 million more than the previous 12 months.

It’s a pretty bold statement, apparently made without any substantial evidence to support it.

In London alone, guests (Airbnb) have spent GB Pounds 522 million in local restaurants since September 2016, GB Pounds 79 million up on the previous period.

According to Airbnb, its guests are spending an average of US$40 – $100 per night in restaurants.

Almost half (43 per cent) of this spending is in the neighbourhood in which they are staying.

Let’s assume for a moment that the figures quoted are even remotely credible and can be supported with facts, does this relate to increased spending in our restaurants on Barbados, with the quoted 16,000 Airbnb guests who came to our shores last year?

I sincerely hope that our restaurateurs will let their views be known and if they have benefited from the chanted Airbnb claim, either individually or through the trade body, notably the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).

Perhaps a simple straw poll could give our planners and policymakers some more insight to the Airbnb effect and the true contribution it is making?

I would like to move slight away from tourism in this part of the column, but not too far, as sustained communication plays a critical part in the sector’s survival and growth.

Last week, hundreds and possibly thousands of land line subscribers were denied use of their paid service for at least a large part of the working day. This meant not only voice communication by access to the widely used Skype.

Tardily, the virtual monopoly provider eventually posted an advisory on their Facebook page, but the vast majority were left trying to report the faults on the 1 800 ‘Customer Service’ number which remained ‘busy’ or simply rang and rang unanswered for hours.

Most consumers fully understand that things can go wrong, but given this company’s appalling history of poor customer service across decades, despite their distinct trading advantages and a record of extracting above competitive rates, why is it they simply are not be able to get it right after so long in business?

Compound the frequent loss of service with months of challenges while they try and correct ongoing problems with their payment portal and you are left to wonder why our supposed regulatory authority, the Fair Trading Commission, has not been more proactive in ensuring the company provides us consistently with what we are paying for.

What is also particularly aggravating is that named senior managers within this company, entrusted (and presumably paid) with the responsibility of ensuring consistent service delivery feel no compulsion to respond to consumer emails.

Maybe they think posting a delayed advisory is enough to calm long suffering disenchanted consumers, but in other developed countries, financial compensation would be demanded and forthcoming. So why do they believe they can get away with it here?

Perhaps it is long overdue that the many individuals and businesses who are financially disadvantaged by this poor service consider taking a collective class action lawsuit against the company to force them into finally addressing and remedying the issues.

Flow Barbados Increases Broadband Rates

Posted to caribbeansignal.com

Flow (Barbados) will be increasing prices for its broadband plans. Notices in today’s Sunday Sun newspaper, as well as on the Flow website, advised customers of the new prices effective November 1, 2017. However, the newspaper notice listed only the plan new prices, not the existing prices, and the website showed the new plan prices on one page, with the existing plan prices on another.

To make it easier for consumers to compare and contrast, here are both (old and new) prices together in a simple table:

Cable & Wireless Barbados Shareholders Offered $2.86

Notice has been given to Cable & Wireless Barbados Limited (CWB) shareholders to consider a cash offer of $2.86 from Cable & Wireless West Indies Limited  (CWWI) AND to approve the Amalgamation Resolution that will allow CWWI to acquire ALL of CWB common share not already owned. The meeting will be held at the Barbados Hilton on the 24th August 2017 at 11AM.

The question some are asking after perusing the Notice of Special Meeting Management Proxy Circular and Director’s CircularIs the fairness opinion delivered by Deloitte on page 53 short of some key information?

FLOW and DIGICEL Are SELF Regulating Entities

Digicel charging point

Digicel charging point

There is a new initiative in the market. Digicel has partnered with Adopt a Stop to provide charging points at bus shelters across Barbados – read about it Bus shelters getting charging points. The first thought was how long does one expect to be at a bus stop to be able to appreciate the value in charging a mobile device? Then reality struck with the realization that this is Barbados where we continue to struggle with public transportation. Recently the matter was robustly discussed in a forum with some of Barbados’ finest in the IT field and it resulted in some interesting information coming to the fore.

Every day Barbadians are inundated with messages from the mobile companies –the bigger faster network, the network with the fastest broadband speed, 3G,4G,4G LTE. To many Barbadians this is all greek, however, they are willing to part with their hard earned cash because it is fashionable to go with the FLOW these days.

There was agreement among some of the IT specialist in the discussion that Digicel and FLOW should allocate a chunk of their marketing dollars to improving customer service and infrastructure. We know this to be wishful thinking. Why do it if the penetration and usage rates in Barbados continue to increase?

The concern David (BU) raised in the forum was to question the role of the regulator (FTC) to independently certify that the two mobile networks are delivering on promises to consumers. Are the two networks delivering 4G services or 4G LTE for that matter? Does the FTC have a system in place to perform periodic quality assurance? How can consumers test that there is truth in the advertising by DIGICEL and FLOW.

Here is an interesting point made by one of the IT specialist:

Niel Harper David King, we would expect FTC to have a system for providing said quality assurance. As far back as 2011, both LIME and Digicel claimed to be delivering 4G services but were not. They did two things to trick an unsuspecting public:

  1. They used a weak loophole that the ITU permits whereby any organization that has deployed 3G+ and shows intent to move to 4G can claim that their network was 4G-ready for developmental purposes.
  2. They flashed the phones they sold to artificially display a 4G signal when they received a 3G+ signal.

So for almost 4 years, Bajans were told that both providers had 4G networks when they didn’t. And now the companies are really investing in 4G networks, and no one saw it fit to cite this as false advertisement back in 2011. Our regulators and government officials allowed this to happen.

David (BU) asked the IT specialist to unpack the above statement so that the non technical among us are able to understand:

The FTC or Telecoms Unit don’t employ independent assessors to validate the technology or speed of the network. Regulation is supposed to be technology neutral. That being said, a 3G network cannot crank up to 4G (it’s not technically possible). They are two different technologies; 3G is generally HSPA and 4G is LTE. 3G speeds go up to 168 Mb and 4G speeds go up to 300 Mb. And those numbers are theoretical because you will seldom get those speeds on a network you’re sharing with many users and is not sufficiently tuned or optimized. What they did is straight up fraudulent advertising.

In the same way there is a lack of financial reporting expertise in the traditional media the same applies to technology matters. The average Bajan does not know how to test for download/upload speed to keep the networks honest based on their package. The vast majority are happy to pay the bill and complain abut the service to the neighbour or work colleague.

Telecom operators generate millions of dollars annually off the backs of Barbadians. The least we expect is for our government to regulate the market with eyes wide open not wide shut. We have not forgotten the decision by the FTC to allow FLOW and C&W to merge therefore monopolizing the data segment of the market. In fact the market is still in chaos with many subscribers having to manage a two bill payment system because ostensibly FLOW continues to manage separate platforms while freely advertising as the single entity that is FLOW. We will observe if SOL is allowed to do the same to the petroleum market in Barbados given the recent sale of BNTLC. to SOL pending FTC approval –Sir Kyffin Simpson.

Many of the popular media practitioners have been co-opted by FLOW and DIGICEL to promote their products. And the media houses received significant advertising dollars from DIGICEL and FLOW.

What is the regulator doing to protect the consumer!

Follow the Facebook conversation with the IT professionals.

Big Brothers Flow and Digicel?

digicel“Great News!! Cable and Wireless have partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to allow mobile customers to surf and enjoy Wikimedia Services websites while at their home markets for FREE. This means once our mobile customers surf the Wikimedia websites their data usage will not deplete and they will NOT be charged data rates. What our mobile customers have to do? Just surf the Wikimedia websites!! A banner “Learn something new with Flow” will appear on the top of each page of the zero-rated mobile website.”
Source: Flow website

“Deep packet inspection (DPI, also called complete packet inspection and information extraction or IX) is a form of computer network packet filtering that examines the data part (and possibly also the header) of a packet as it passes an inspection point, searching for protocol non-compliance, viruses, spam, intrusions, or defined criteria to decide whether the packet may pass or if it needs to be routed to a different destination, or, for the purpose of collecting statistical information.”
Source: Wikipedia

Of-course, Flow is not the only provider that employs these kind of technologies. Digicel appears to be no stranger to DPI and DPI-like technologies. Several months ago Digicel deployed technology to block ads on its customers’ phones. What is the motive behind this? It seems like O’Brien wants a piece of the revenue pie that content providers enjoy.

Read Full Article at Suck Salt

M&A Activity on the Increase

cable_and_wireless-webGood GOSH Man! De last few days have seen nuff M&A activity hitting close to home – Ambev or Ansa for Banks, a question of the lesser of two evils? – and it seems like we aint dun yet!

With the M&A of Flow/[…] Continue reading

How to Squeeze a Lime

Submitted by Bush Tea

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

Life is really not as complex as many make it out to be. In the final analysis, we find ourselves existing on a big rock which is spinning wildly through space at ridiculous speed, somehow managing to (so far) miss the millions of other rocks and other objects also speeding randomly through the same damn space.

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Submitted by David Weekes

Dear Mrs. Sealy,
I write with reference to your response to my matter at caption – your reference #  4/14/20 (447). The reason that I have written is because i am so absolutely disappointed by your findings.

Miss Emily Ronalds, the Abbey School circa 1965 taught using the Royal Reader series (You should know it well, you attended that institution) She once told our class a story of “The Fox who was guarding the chickens” and these many years hence I am unfortunately reminded of this anecdote.

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IS LIME Exempt from the Laws of Barbados? Even the Barbados Courts Can’t Constrain Them!

Submitted by David Weekes

LIME customer service questioned.

LIME customer service questioned.

I would be grateful if you would publish this for me.

Last year around September 26th 2014 after going to Surepay to pay a bill, a conversation with a Surepay attendant led me to review all my bills and services with LIME. Suffice it to say, I found that I had overpaid LIME close to$100,000 over the past 10 years for phone lines that had been withdrawn for close to five years, other services I no longer had, data plans that were oversized, even though I had writing for 7 years asking for them to be properly sized and a number of issues that form 11 pages in an affidavit.

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Vote NO to Cable & Wireless Columbus Merger

The Fair Training Commission (FTC) is advising on its website that on the 24 November, 2014 an application was received from Cable & Wireless Communications Plc and Columbus International Inc seeking permission to merge the local subsidiaries (C&W and LIME) in Barbados in accordance with Section 20 (7) of the Fair Competition Act.

Pursuant to its remit the FTC has invited “all service providers, businesses, representatives of consumer groups, non-governmental organisations, residential consumers and all other parties with an interest in this matter, to submit their comments on the merits or demerits of the proposed merge”.

The FTC has attracted strong criticism from the general public because it is perceived as an entity that is pro utilities in its rulings. The public has an opportunity to participate in an online survey under the cloak of anonymity – see survey as well as to share concerns about the proposed merger of LIME and C&W in Barbados.

Barbados Underground is firmly of the view a merger of the two entities will bring monopoly into play, again. Further, it makes a mockery of the decision to deregulate the local market which has allowed Digicel and other players to introduce competition to the local market. We therefore vote NO to the proposed merger.