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Thread: Customer Service in the Public Sector; does it exist?

  1. #1
    Politics.ie Member
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    Default Customer Service in the Public Sector; does it exist?

    I suppose this matter does truly belong to the issue of open government. I have been dealing with a government department now for 5 months. I have been referred from one person to another for over the course of that time. The department has retained monies due me. I have had two, and possibly three (depending on interpretation), explanations for this. I am told I can appeal, but in the absence of being able to ascertain the facts of my case how can I do that.

    Nobody seems to be able to help. My questions go unanswered. I receive responses that don't relate to questions posed. My case is perpetually being referred from one person to another. The last letter I received suggested that the sender had been in receipt of the case (it had been referred to him) and that if I wanted to appeal it would have to be referred to another section. The letter had no email, phone or fax number where I could contact the sender.

    I'm sure that a competent person could clarify this for me in 2-3 minutes. Instead 5 months after the process began I'm none the wiser.

    I have worked for many years in the private sector is customer service related businesses. I can't imagine treating a customer like this and if we ever had I can't imagine they'd be a customer for very long.

    Is this just my experience of the public sector or do others find that this is a common occurence? I would like to hear your stories and experiences.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinelli View Post
    I suppose this matter does truly belong to the issue of open government. I have been dealing with a government department now for 5 months. I have been referred from one person to another for over the course of that time. The department has retained monies due me. I have had two, and possibly three (depending on interpretation), explanations for this. I am told I can appeal, but in the absence of being able to ascertain the facts of my case how can I do that.

    Nobody seems to be able to help. My questions go unanswered. I receive responses that don't relate to questions posed. My case is perpetually being referred from one person to another. The last letter I received suggested that the sender had been in receipt of the case (it had been referred to him) and that if I wanted to appeal it would have to be referred to another section. The letter had no email, phone or fax number where I could contact the sender.

    I'm sure that a competent person could clarify this for me in 2-3 minutes. Instead 5 months after the process began I'm none the wiser.

    I have worked for many years in the private sector is customer service related businesses. I can't imagine treating a customer like this and if we ever had I can't imagine they'd be a customer for very long.

    Is this just my experience of the public sector or do others find that this is a common occurence? I would like to hear your stories and experiences.

    Having a similar issue with a government department recently...going on months and just getting passed from one person to the next with no-one accepting responsibility for the issue.

    Think the problem is, no-one in there actually sees people like me as a customer..

  3. #3
    Politics.ie Member macs magic's Avatar
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    The problem also exists in the private sector.
    I spent 4 months chasing Ulster Bank for money they charged us on accounts during their i.t meltdown.I must have spoken to 15 or 20 people before my problem was dealt with.

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    Politics.ie Member damus's Avatar
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    Section 18 FOI request looking for a statement of reasons together with a S.7 request for your file is the way to go. They have to respond one way or another. Aside from an appeal - you could also go to the Ombudsman.

    Out of interest which govt. Dept. is it - although I could possibly hazard a guess?

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    Politics.ie Member Blossie's Avatar
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    I totally agree.My mother applied for a medical card,she was told to see the community welfare officer.Each time she went to see the CWO she was told she would need more documentation,in all she saw 4 different officers and was told 4 different stories as to her entitlements.She eventually got a medical card after almost a year after constant phone calls and letters. I have had many run ins with Kerry county council,they are a complete joke.If you phone them you are put through to the "appropriate department",9 times out of 10 the person is away from their desk and you are put through to an answering service, woe betide anybody who leaves a message as you are NEVER phoned back. The latest ploy when dealing with government departments is a recorded message telling you to go to their website. If they expect everybody to go online for help then why do they need all the staff. Grrrrr,I could go on and on.

  6. #6
    john moriarty
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    I've always had good dealings
    with the PS. That I think they
    should be abolished to trusts
    or privatised is another matter.

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    Politics.ie Member eoghanacht's Avatar
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    The whole point is that they hope you just give up and stop contacting them.
    Britain operated death squads - ''97% of the Loyalists I interviewed were working directly for the State.'' - Nuala O'Loan. #FreeAhedTamimi

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    Politics.ie Member zakalwe1's Avatar
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    I heard they all sit in their offices drinking champagne laughing at the ringing phones while allowing thousands of africans in every day.....

    my personal experience is that the Revenue are very good and professional at dealing with you. the central bank are ok if prodded repeatedly and given unambigious options. dept of foreign affairs have got their act together in terms of dealing with the public.
    thankfully i haven't had need to deal with the HSE for a while (except for with frontline staff who are brilliant) so cannot comment.
    i heard that dlrcoco are very helpful, if a little powerless due to budgetary constraints. still, its better to be told, sympathetically, that they are aware of an issue but cannot help at the moment than not to hear at all from them.


    aside, not a civil servant but i had one dealing with my local td and was disappointed to be fobbed off with a generic letter....i wasn't asking for any favours or anything, just to ask their position on a national issue being debated in the dail at the time.
    I liberate minds with my music. That's more important than liberating a few people from apartheid or whatever. - Kanye West

  9. #9
    john moriarty
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    Quote Originally Posted by zakalwe1 View Post
    I heard they all sit in their offices drinking champagne laughing at the ringing phones while allowing thousands of africans in every day.....
    There was as element of that in the 80s.
    Nowadays it's a lot better. My contact is
    limited however.

  10. #10
    Politics.ie Debater
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    I have had some very good dealings with the PS and some less good ones.
    n of the more subtle concerned a tax refund (a very significant amount of money as well) which was not being progressed. I dropped into Mount Street where a senior guy told me that the priorities were processing amnesty applications. He added that he could perfectly understand that people might get annoyed if they felt that their overpayments were less important than processing amnesty claim from tax-avoiders.

    This was a broad hint.

    A couple of calls up the chain with suitable threats and I had my refund.

    Sometimes they speak in broad hints.

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