Scrooged!

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With only three weeks before Christmas, some stores in George Town will be without power on Saturday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Electrical service will be interrupted on Elgin Avenue during business hours Saturday, 4 December, according to Caribbean Utilities Company spokesperson Neil Murray.

The electricity company delivered a notice of power interruption to the business owners of Arboretum Plaza on Elgin Avenue Thursday morning, giving tenants only two days’ notice.

The note read: “We regret that it has become necessary to interrupt service in your area on Saturday the 4 December 2010 between the hours of 7.30am to 5pm. This is required to do work which will improve our service 
to you.”

But Off the Peg’s owner Karen Marshall, one of the shop owners in the affected plaza, disagrees.

“We’ve had a horrible month, ever since the road construction started, really,” she said.

“I’ve got all my money in this Christmas stock. And in less than 48 hours I have to shut the door during peak Christmas shopping hours.”

Off the Peg sells women’s clothing and accessories and depends on the Christmas shopping season, with holiday sales tripling the rest of the year’s sales, according to Ms Marshall.

The store has six employees, all Caymanian.

Ms Marshall asked if CUC would shut down power along Eastern Avenue, where big retailers like Kirk Home Centre are located.

She noted that Off the Peg is just a small business.

“It’s like we don’t count,” she said.

The road widening project along Elgin Avenue has also hindered Off the Peg’s business recently, sometimes because of roadblocks. On Thursday, Ms Marshall had to once again wipe off a thick layer of dust that had accumulated on the front windows of her store as a result of the roadwork.

Robert Bodden, who owns Robson Construction in the plaza, is also the owner of the building.

“I support the tenants. They still have to pay their rent,” he said.

“We all object to having the power turned off.

They need to bring in a small generator so people can have power.”

But it’s not common practise for CUC to bring in a generator, according to Mr. Murray.

“The weekend is the only time we can do (construction).

It’s the best time for our guys,” he said.

“It’s planned work that has being going on, on the street and we’ve been upgrading those lines for the last few weeks.”

Mr. Murray explained that the businesses will have some power interruptions, but CUC is not sure about the extent of the interruptions.

As for the short notice of the power interruption, he said that is up to the planning department at CUC as to when the notices are sent.

But this is unacceptable, according to Ms Marshall.

“I’ve got three weeks to make up my entire year,” she said. “For some companies, it means, ‘are we going to keep the doors open or not?’”

“My livelihood depends on the store being open.”

Caymanian Compass reporter Alan Markoff also contributed to this article

TOPstory

Karen Marshall, owner of Off the Peg, is worried about the economic impact of power interruptions on her holiday sales. “It’s like we don’t count,” she said. – Photo: Brian Wright
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5 COMMENTS

  1. CUC should bring in a generator if possible. The short notice is also unacceptable.. This is another example which show that a monopoly do not have to be and is usually not customer focused..

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  2. This type of sensational journalism is irresponsible. CUC was on site this morning hooking up a generator to this building. If CUC wasn’t going to do it the NRA was going to give them ours.

    The dust that they have to put up with is a small price to pay for getting a brand new $2million dollar road in front of their property and having the drainage issues taken care of for which they have to pay $0.

    Editor’s note: While we appreciate the compliment – sensational as defined by webster’s as ‘exceedingly or unexpectedly excellent or great’ – this type of comment is, in fact, wildly irresponsible.

    1. CUC might have informed us they were setting up the generator on Thursday when we talked to them. They did not. Moreover, no one from CUC contacted the business owner about this generator before mid-morning Friday – which, by the way – is after our story appeared on the front page of the paper.

    2. The article was not about ‘dust’, it was about the potential that a small business owner was going to be effectively shut down on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

    3. Zero dollars? The writer here apparently missed the approximately $450 million in coercive revenue the government collects each year in various taxes, tariffs, fees, etc. to perform its work and the bills CUC customers – including this one – pay each month for their ‘service’.

    Give us all a break, sir.

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  3. I have to take back that Not customer focused bit and give tums up to the profit driven team at CUC instillation. With a generator attached that old meter will take a licking but keep right on ticking. With adequate notice and a clearly presented contingency plan, this shop owner (Customer) could have been saved a lot of stress and fear.. Tums up also to timely inquiry and reporting by this paper where I believe the people concerned was able to meet and agree..

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  4. CUC needs competition! That way they will think twice before shutting off people’s power, because the people would have the opportunity to join another utility company. These store owners should come together and brainstorm as to what other means of light and energy they can use. If I was a small store owner and they threaten to do that to me on a Christmas. Simple: I would light all my candles and battery powered lightings. It would give my store a special Christmas atmosphere, lit with candles. :o)

    CUC is not going to take my Christmas away!

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