• It has come to our attention that some users may have been "banned" when they tried to change their passwords after the site was hacked due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software. This would have occurred around the end of February and does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you believe you were affected by this, please contact a staff member or use the Contact us link at the bottom of any forum page.

Customer Service in the Public Sector; does it exist?


Spinelli

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
373
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.
 

deepness

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
2,529
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..
 

macs magic

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2010
Messages
2,214
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.
 

damus

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
23,671
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?
 

Blossie

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 16, 2011
Messages
671
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.
 
J

john moriarty

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

eoghanacht

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
33,340
The whole point is that they hope you just give up and stop contacting them.
 

zakalwe1

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
Messages
5,306
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.
 
J

john moriarty

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.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2011
Messages
40,632
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.
 

brughahaha

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
15,289
Have to say my dealings with the PS are generally good and in quite a few incidents excellent, occasionally poor .....pretty much like the Private Sector

Seems very much a department by department issue

Just moved office........ CRO , Dublin City Council and Revenue (damn their efficiency) Motor Tax office to name but a few were all excellent friendly and efficient .... Valuations office were dreadful , borderline rude and unhelpful

Thankfully many haven't gone down the automated phone menu route and you get to speak to a person , who in the vast majority of cases are friendly helpful and efficient
Thats my experience anyway

Believe it or not Customer service in Ireland is usually of a high standard anyway (IMHO) .... have a sister in France who regularly regails us with stories of the absurd levels of bureaucracy she encounters ....ditto an Italian friend
 

sauntersplash

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
3,466
Seems like you're all receiving poor customer service because you're not following procedures. For the service to be fair and equally distributed to everyone, everyone has to follow the procedures. Just because the "customer" is your lovely mammy, doesn't mean she doesn't have to follow the rules.

Besides, customer service is generally pretty poor in the private sector in Ireland anyway. It's a myth that all business activity is entirely customer-centric. Ever had to deal with a mobile phone company?

Not getting what you want does not constitute poor service by the way.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2011
Messages
40,632
Seems like you're all receiving poor customer service because you're not following procedures. For the service to be fair and equally distributed to everyone, everyone has to follow the procedures. Just because the "customer" is your lovely mammy, doesn't mean she doesn't have to follow the rules.

Besides, customer service is generally pretty poor in the private sector in Ireland anyway. It's a myth that all business activity is entirely customer-centric. Ever had to deal with a mobile phone company?

Not getting what you want does not constitute poor service by the way.
In some cases they have guaranteed levels of turnaround. Breaking these is a measurable indicator of the quality or otherwise of their service.

One office which I found particularly helpful is Consumer Affairs. I had a problm with a frtized laptop some years ago. The supplier cited a six-week turnaround (all agreed between them and the manufacturer). One call to Consumers Affairs laer and I was fully armed with the relevant legislation and how it worked in practice.

Their advice worked perfectly. I had a new laptop that day. The moment I approached the shop and told them I'd been to Consumer Affairs they completely surrendered.

I can't recommend them enough.
 

gatsbygirl20

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
22,790
Have to say my dealings with the PS are generally good and in quite a few incidents excellent, occasionally poor .....pretty much like the Private Sector

Seems very much a department by department issue

Just moved office........ CRO , Dublin City Council and Revenue (damn their efficiency) Motor Tax office to name but a few were all excellent friendly and efficient .... Valuations office were dreadful , borderline rude and unhelpful

Thankfully many haven't gone down the automated phone menu route and you get to speak to a person , who in the vast majority of cases are friendly helpful and efficient
Thats my experience anyway

Believe it or not Customer service in Ireland is usually of a high standard anyway (IMHO) .... have a sister in France who regularly regails us with stories of the absurd levels of bureaucracy she encounters ....ditto an Italian friend
Yes, I have found dealing with officialdom in France a nightmare which I hope never to experience again. Private customer service can be hilarious also.
I phoned a Paris shop to ask politely if I could return an unworn jumper I'd bought that day. For no reason the lady on the phone worked herself up into a rage over the request, telling me that I was probably too fat like a lot of "English" customers who came to her shop, and that was why I might be having trouble with French sizes! She was a scream, actually. Comedy gold. I cannot imagine such a response in Ireland.

I think customer service has improved greatly over the years here in Ireland, public and private.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2011
Messages
40,632
Have to say my dealings with the PS are generally good and in quite a few incidents excellent, occasionally poor .....pretty much like the Private Sector

Seems very much a department by department issue

Just moved office........ CRO , Dublin City Council and Revenue (damn their efficiency) Motor Tax office to name but a few were all excellent friendly and efficient .... Valuations office were dreadful , borderline rude and unhelpful

Thankfully many haven't gone down the automated phone menu route and you get to speak to a person , who in the vast majority of cases are friendly helpful and efficient
Thats my experience anyway

Believe it or not Customer service in Ireland is usually of a high standard anyway (IMHO) .... have a sister in France who regularly regails us with stories of the absurd levels of bureaucracy she encounters ....ditto an Italian friend
I missed the reference to France.

Believe me, the service you get in Ireland is light years ahead.

I remember from my days in ESB that there was a top-to-botom reappraisal of customer service, which resulted in several initiatives sometime in the mid-80s..

Everyone received training and literature on the subject (including those not in customer-facing jobs);
Measurements were set up to record performance and to establish targets;
Training part of induction for all new recruits;
Customer-facing people were enabled to make decisions which weren't normally within their remit if their superior wasn't available - the customer had to have a decision made when they contacted us rather than being fobbed off until a decision could be made;
No member of staff to be reprimanded if making an incorrect decision in these circumstances.

In addition, new services have been offered on-line etc since then.

It was a very concerted effort.
 

brughahaha

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
15,289
About 2 years ago I had 2 visitors from France and they took the train to westport . I stood and watched baffled as they pulled passports and reciepts out of their bags, crosschecking paperwork before daring approach the ticket office to claim their tickets

When I told them they just had to put their receipt number (or Credit Card cant remember)into the machine and it would print them they were truly gobsmacked

Apparently even retrieving a prebooked ticket in France can be a bit of an ordeal
 

brughahaha

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
15,289
I missed the reference to France.

Believe me, the service you get in Ireland is light years ahead.

I remember from my days in ESB that there was a top-to-botom reappraisal of customer service, which resulted in several initiatives sometime in the mid-80s..

Everyone received training and literature on the subject (including those not in customer-facing jobs);
Measurements were set up to record performance and to establish targets;
Training part of induction for all new recruits;
Customer-facing people were enabled to make decisions which weren't normally within their remit if their superior wasn't available - the customer had to have a decision made when they contacted us rather than being fobbed off until a decision could be made;
No member of staff to be reprimanded if making an incorrect decision in these circumstances.

In addition, new services have been offered on-line etc since then.

It was a very concerted effort.
Yep as Gatsby says , customer service across all parts of the economy have greatly improved .......mind you do busses still sit on Parnell Sq with passengers on them while the Driver disappears (and invariably another bus of the same number whizzes past) , or was that just an 80's thing? :)
 

gatsbygirl20

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
22,790
Yep as Gatsby says , customer service across all parts of the economy have greatly improved .......mind you do busses still sit on Parnell Sq with passengers on them while the Driver disappears (and invariably another bus of the same number whizzes past) , or was that just an 80's thing? :)
Speaking of the bus...

I always drove or walked in Dublin. Have not used the bus in many, many years......

Recently I am using Dublin Bus on a regular basis, and it is a pleasant surprise...

There are electronic thingies at every stop telling you when the bus is due.The payment options are swift and efficient. There are bus lanes, so you fly by the stalled commuter traffic.....The bus driver greets you if you greet him..

It's almost like commuting in a normal country....
 

Upper Chamber

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2008
Messages
587
From the comments above it seems poor service in the P.S. seems to be related to local culture, i.e. poor management. If you explain to people that this level of work dodging and fobbing off is not acceptable it largely goes away. A lot of it also applies to the private sector who are no saints and can often be very poor due lack of planning, management or resources.

A few examples,

Switched providers from Bord Gais, paid the outstanding bill within a couple of days directly to the bank after cancelling the DD.
It took five months to finally convince them that I had paid in full, after they had obtained the services of a debt collection agency.

UPC, couldn't make the DD work despite having the bank account for 25 years and every other utility working just fine with it. They even cut off my service until a very direct phone call to them fixed it. Amazing how they could try to blame their incompetence on everybody else.

O2, failure to comprehend that they screwed up their own DD form and wanted me to write a letter explaining why I wasn't paying my bill.

The Central Bank retail office. One of the last places in Ireland not to take credit or debit cards, you have to pay in cash! And don't even think of being a second late because the door closes on the dot, they tell you so.

Private business in general, a promise to phone you regarding a product or spare part is rarely acted upon, it seems most establishments simply don't need your money these days.
 

brughahaha

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
15,289
Speaking of the bus...

I always drove or walked in Dublin. Have not used the bus in many, many years......

Recently I am using Dublin Bus on a regular basis, and it is a pleasant surprise...

There are electronic thingies at every stop telling you when the bus is due.The payment options are swift and efficient. There are bus lanes, so you fly by the stalled commuter traffic.....The bus driver greets you if you greet him..

It's almost like commuting in a normal country....

Yep its improved greatly, the app is very good as is the timing information and Im blessed with a very good service , and use it to go to town whenever I have a choice

Still a few issues with the leap card IMO (no crossing over and no maximum charge) Its a little expensive (more expensive than parking for 3 hours if there are 2 of you) and still a few dots need to be joined but much much better than before

Well done Dublin Bus , another of those institutions that seem to cause irrational ire

Much more entertaining than a car too .... saw a terrified guide dog in training take his first bus journey last week , didn't like it one bit despite the fact that 14 passengers want to take him home and smother him with affection

The level of concern for the dog was hilarious

You wouldn't hear as many oohs and aaahhs at a christening
 
Top