‘We will all be dead before I get hold of someone’
sawilliams@thekmgroup. co.uk Frustrated residents say they are fed up at being left waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting – when trying to put a call through to Ashford Borough Council (ABC).
Callers are faced with automated messages, numerous options and tinny ‘on hold’ music when placing a call to the council’s customer service line at 01233 331111.
Over recent weeks, numerous residents have contacted the Kentish Express, asking for advice and help on getting through to the council.
Boxley resident George Galdes, who has called the KE several times to complain about the length of time it takes to get through, said: “It’s just a nightmare. What’s the point in having a number if they’re not going to answer?
“We will all be dead before I get hold of someone. I just want to speak to a person.”
The council’s phone system provider is Mitel, which has been ABC’s supplier since the call centre began operating in 2003.
In April this year, ABC introduced a new self-service telephone facility for customers. This service allows callers to find the answers to some queries without speaking to a member of staff.
Adam Hunter, 30, has had to call ABC several times during the past few months for issues with council tax and parking tickets.
He said: “The phone system is appalling. You just hold and hold and hold. You have no idea where you are in the queue and you hear a repeated message advising you to visit their website.
“I don’t believe their website is very user friendly. It seems like it was designed by toddlers.
“I understand people have complex inquiries that take a long time, but that is why it is important that you speak to someone from the department concerned.
“There is something fundamentally wrong when you can’t talk to someone in the department you have a specific query about.
“I don’t understand why the system is so inconsistent. Out of the eight or 10 calls I’ve made to the council, only one has been successful. It is very frustrating.
“I’ve left a message before with my number and they say they will call you back within 24 hours.
“Once they called me back within 60 seconds, other times it has been two or three days. They need to employ more staff.
‘I don’t believe their website is very user friendly. It seems like it was designed by toddlers’
“I don’t buy it when they say it is due to the increased calls about the new recycling service, because this has been going on for months, since at least February.”
Ashford resident Kelly Hill, who has also experienced problems with the system, said: “I just think it’s ridiculous try- ing to get through to ABC, and when you do, it’s ‘leave your name and number and someone will get back to you’ and then you’re left waiting for days, even weeks!
“The number you phone is all voice operated, it’s ‘press 1 for this, press 2 for that’ and you just get nowhere.
“It’s very difficult to actually speak to someone without physically going into the council itself.
“I just think there should be an easier way to contact them instead of all the trouble that you have to go through and ending up nowhere.”
Despite the problems trying to get through, Mr Hunter, from Kingsnorth, said: “In their defence, they are very helpful when you do get through.”
What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, TN24 8JR or email kentishexpress@ thekmgroup.co.uk
Disgruntled resident George Galdies