News : Municipal Complaints System Frustrates Ratepayers
Secunda, South Africa, July 21, 2016 -- Residents of Tugela Street and surrounding areas are uncertain why the streetlights are burning through the day.
The Ridge Times went to Tugela Street on 6 July and took photographs of the streetlights burning in the morning.
Another resident said although she is thankful that the streetlight in front of her house is working, she is worried about the wastefulness of letting it burn during the day.
"I am glad that they finally came to fix this light that was broken for a couple of months, because this is a very dangerous corner.
"When you drive at night, you cannot see pedestrians or other road users.
"It bothers me that the light is always on.
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"If you are not in a room, you switch off the light to save power, but this light burns 24 hours a day."
In Piketberg Street, there is a deep hole on the side of the road that is filled with fresh water that seems to be leaking in large amounts.
Residents are not only concerned about the wasting of fresh water, but also the danger that this hole poses.
They are afraid that someone walking on the sidewalk might not realise how deep the hole is, because it is overgrown with grass.They might step in it and sustain serious injuries.
In Mimosa Street, residents are frustrated with the lack of response from the municipality when it comes to their complaints.
They have been living with leaking sewage on their property and in front of their house for more than two weeks.
In Kowyn and Longtom Streets, an overflowing sewerage pipe is spilling raw sewage into two separate residences.
The owners of these properties have contacted the municipal call centre numerous times.
In another municipal complaint, a resident of Leandra has been struggling to amend the valuation on his property for more than two years.
Mr Schalk Graham explained his frustrations and said: "The property was initially valued at R1.4 million, but due to damages to the buildings and structures on the property, the value has decreased severely.
"Previous tenants vandalised and stripped the building and structures on the property, leaving the place in ruins.
"I obtained a revised property valuation from a reputable agent, and the value of the land alone and the few remaining structures is no more than R300 000.
" My property tax payments have however remained unchanged and I am desperate and frustrated by the lack of feedback from the municipality."
After numerous discussions with the Govan Mbeki Municipality, the formal process for the logging of complaints was once again highlighted.
Mr Bheki Kubheka, acting head of Communications and Marketing of the Govan Mbeki Municipality, explained what options there are for dealing with complaints.
"The Govan Mbeki Municipality has a 24-hour Emergency and Customer Care Call Centre, 0800 6000 01/02/04, that has been in operation for more than four years with 16 permanent Call Centre operators operating on a 24-hour shift basis.
"The centre deals with general enquiries and complaints essentially after hours, on public holidays and over weekends.
"This Call Centre aims at contributing to community liaison and improving customer loyalty and customer satisfaction within our municipality.
"In addition to the Call Centre, the municipal Facebook page also offers the public an opportunity to leave comments or complaints."
When receiving complaints or general enquiries from the public, the Call Centre operator electronically logs the caller’s details as well as the nature of the query or complaint on the customer care computer system and the calls are referenced.
Mr Kubheka said the relevant department is then informed immediately.
He said the public can ask for a customer complaint number to be able to follow up on the progress of a specific complaint.
"When logging a call with our Call Centre, it is very important to provide as much information as possible to the operator.
"This person will request some basic information, such as your name, address, municipal account number and contact numbers, as well as a summary of the nature of the problem.
"The operator will then issue you with a call log reference number.
"It is important to take note of this number and to indicate it in all correspondence or telephone discussions relating to that particular request, as it provides call traceability for both parties."
According to Mr Kubheka, the base information collected by the operator will give her more insight into the nature of your call.
Depending on the nature of a call, such as fires, vehicle accidents and all other emergency calls, immediate call responses are applicable.
If the call relates to service delivery, the turnaround time is eight to 48 hours, depending on the severity of the problem.
"Feedback is provided to the caller through telephonic communication and Call Centre operators will check if the matter is resolved.
"Only once the matter is resolved, we will regard the problem as solved and closed the call."
With regard to unresolved matters, Mr Kubheka said the municipal supervisor will have to be involved.
"If he or she also fails to assist you, then your problem must be referred to the centre manager who will call the relevant department to assist the affected caller."
"Service delivery problems or complaints can be posted on the Govan Mbeki Municipality Facebook page.
"Problems or complaints are being escalated to the relevant departments so that they are dealt with.
"We welcome all service delivery comments, both positive and negative.
"When raising a complaint or problem, please include a stand number, street name and town and attach images where possible."
Mr Kubheka hopes that this explanation will help local residents when dealing with their service delivery complaints.
"In an effort to strengthen communication with residents, the municipality has introduced a suggestion book at each of its offices,
"Residents are requested to use the books to give suggestions, compliment or complain about the quality of service."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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