Promised Msunduzi call centre still not working

2011-08-04 00:00

DESPITE repeated promises that the capital would have a fully operational municipal call centre to record and monitor residents’ complaints, angry residents continue to flood The Witness with calls about various service delivery problems, and say their repeated phone calls to report electricity outages and other problems to Msunduzi remain unanswered.

Msunduzi Municipality had promised that the call centre would be fully operational by July 1.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the call centre has been running since July 11 on a trial basis until the official launch by Mayor Chris Ndlela, to be held in the next few weeks.

“We are still assessing the functionality of the call centre so that we properly deal with any teething problems arising,” he said.

Zuma said for each complaint they issue a reference and then forward it to the relevant department for attention. However, if there is a general problem — like a power outage — a recorded message on their telephone system will explain the problem and the possible time it will be resolved.

“A reference number is a job allocation number, which means that if we have already allocated a reference number for that particular job then the problem is receiving attention,” he said.

“We advertised internally for call centre agents and trained them on interpersonal skills as well as on the use of the system at the centre.” He said four people work per shift and the call centre has a staff compliment of 12, operating 24 hours.

But residents say the centre doesn’t work. At least four businesses in Pietermaritz Street between Peter Kerchhoff and West streets were without electricity for three days last week.

The different businesses in the street kept calling the municipal call centre and were very pleased that they were getting very polite people on the other end of the line who gave them reference numbers and said their complaints would be attended to.

But it never was attended to.

By the end of the third day the owner of one of the businesses went to the electricity department, only to discover that none of their complaints were ever passed on to the electricity department. The reference numbers the callers were given were 7388, 7180 and 7318.

Peter Walters of Balmoral Gardens at 658 Townbush Road phoned the call centre on July 17 about a water leak in the area that was threatening to flood the housing complex in which he lives.

The area has been plagued by burst pipes and they have had flooding in the past as a result. To avoid another disaster he reported the leak as soon as the water was spotted leaking down the driveway. He phoned the call centre on July 17 at 11.15 am and was given the reference number 4151.

But no one attended to the problem and the leak was getting worse. On July 23 at 15.45 pm he phoned and spoke to call centre staffer Carol Mokoena. She found the first complaint and said that it had been recorded as a blocked sewer and not a water leak.

Mokoena gave him the reference number 5704. Still no one attended to the leak. By Tuesday, July 26 the situation got drastic and the water was beginning to flood the garages.

He phoned the call centre again, and this time he spoke to Zanele who told him that the reference number had been logged as 5740 and not 5704. She promised to put the problem down as priority, but still nothing happened.

By Thursday, more than a week after the leak was reported, still no one had attended to it. Walters contacted his ward councillor, Dave Ryder, who also lodged a complaint. He has since found out that others in the complex also complained, all of them getting different reference numbers.

The complaint and the reference numbers seem to get swallowed into a black hole and never seem to get to the section that fixes leaks.

The Witness visited the call centre last Wednesday, however it seemed as if only one computer was on and no one was seen inside the centre.

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The call centre number is 0800 001 8688

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