Joburg billing problem to take six months to resolve

2011-04-15 07:18

Joburg residents will have to wait a further six months before their billing problems are resolved.

The announcement comes after the office of the Public Protector conducted an investigation into billing-related complaints.

“We found that the problem was not the system itself but the implementation of the new integrated system,” said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Some of the key factors which contributed to the City of Johannesburg’s billing problems included:

» The previous thirteen councils had different IT systems which necessitated the procurement of a new Integrated IT system;

» Lack of billing of some customers;

» Incorrect cut-offs, in some cases due to incorrect referencing by consumers; and

» Increase in number of complaints that exceeded the capacity of the Call Centre.

The problems affected 65 000 of the 1.2 million account holders in the city.

At a joint press briefing yesterday in Joburg, Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi and Madonsela said they were satisfied with the progress made in trying to resolve the issue.

The conference was called after repeated complaints were sent to the office of the Public Protector from angry residents who were overcharged on their monthly electricity bills.

Mmemezi acknowledged that the city had not done enough to communicate with customers.

“We realised that part of the problem was that the city communicates with the customer once the case has been resolved when the process should be ongoing,” said Mmemezi.

The City has undertaken to:
» Develop a customer service charter which will highlight standards of service and the expected turnaround times for customer queries;

»
Hold bi-monthly meetings with the Public Protector’s office to give feedback on progress;

» Regularly engage with customers to update them on the progress made with regard to resolving the challenges; and

» Continue to address challenges identified and improve the revenue management value chain.

Mmemezi added that the City may also need to do a skills gap anaylsis and implement a skills development programme which would ensure the delivery of efficient services to customers.

Madonsela said the City would implement a moratorium on cut-offs for customers whose queries have not been resolved within 90 days.

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