XpBonaire IslandLife Feature Story
The Union di Konsumidó Boneiru (Unkobon) is the successful consumer association of Bonaire. Founded in November, 2012, it immediately made an impact fighting the retroactive increase in WEB rates for electricity. Thanks to Unkobon, WEB refunded a total of $100,000 to household customers on Bonaire. But more important, the company was forced to realize that their clientele had now become empowered.
Businesses and governments are there for the citizens, for the consumers. The consumers on Bonaire often don’t experience it that way. That is why Unkobon is encouraging a more customer-friendly approach by companies and the government, preferably by consultation and co-operation, but if they have to, with action.
When facing companies or the government, the individual consumer stands alone on Bonaire. More often than not, he/she is the weaker party. Facing powerful adversaries, members of a consumer association are stronger because they are united. Together we are strong! This is the main reason to become a member of Unkobon.
Through its digital consumer desk, Unkobon helps members who have problems with local companies or with the government. Think of problems with warranty, with local taxes, with being cut off from electricity, the internet or water etc. Unkobon provides their members with information about their rights and helps members through their consumer desk with advice and action.
Many people on Bonaire do not exactly know what they are entitled to as a consumer. Unfortunately, the level of legal protection for the consumers on Bonaire is not what one is accustomed to in the European Netherlands. This makes joining forces extra necessary to strengthen the position of the consumers on this island.
The work of Unkobon is carried out by volunteers. Unkobon uses the knowledge of its members and makes this available to other members. Knowledge of legal affairs, of technical matters, or of financial affairs is available. If you live on Bonaire, you can support Unkobon by becoming a member and you are most welcome if you want to help other consumers on our lovely island.
Protect your Interest
In the 6 years of its existence, Unkobon has shown professionalism and objectivity and has proven to be an influential force enhancing not only its members’ interests, but also the interests of the entire community of Bonaire. Unkobon regularly carries out campaigns that help large groups of consumers. Some recent examples:
In March, 2018, WEB intended to set the new fixed rate of electricity to $34 a month for household connections. Thanks to Unkobon, the monthly rate went down to $28.
Thanks to Unkobon, Bonaire will get a DigiD desk. DigiD is an abbreviation for Digital Identity. With a DigiD Dutch people can use one single electronic code to log in to governmental services. Just as Dutch individuals who live abroad, inhabitants of the BES islands should receive their activation code at a special DigiD desk. Beginning this year a DigiD desk was opened on Aruba and on Curacao, and within 4 months, on March 31, 2019, at the latest, Bonaire will get one too.
A couple of months ago Unkobon, in co-operation with the FTpKB and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, started a monthly price comparison of 60 products in 15 supermarkets on Bonaire to enhance consumers’ price awareness. As a side effect, we have seen prices go down in some supermarkets.
Support – Become a Member
It pays off to unite! Membership is only $15 per year. The more members Unkobon gets, the more power to the consumers. You can sign up on their website: www.unkobon.org or on their FB page: www.fb.com/unkobon.