Auckland Council devotes a page on its website to complaints. It even goes so far as to define a complaint. It tells you how complaints are to be made. It tells you how complaints are processed. Most people know what a complaint is. If they’re unhappy about a service or lack of service they like to know who’s in charge of that service. Logically, that is the person to complain to.
Not so, however, with Auckland Council. If one complains by phone, details are taken by a person to whom you are referred by the Call Centre on 3010101. You are then told you can expect a response within ten working days. The website actually states “We are committed to ensuring you have the best possible experience with us. We take complaints seriously and we use your feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve our services.”
Under the heading “How we manage complaints” it states
“We will send you an acknowledgement within three working days and have a full response sent to you within ten working days.”
Complaints by phone
It is a good idea to ask for a complaint number. If you ring three days later to find out why you have not been sent an acknowledgement you will be told that does not apply to complaints made by phone. Your acknowledgement is your complaint number. If you ask any questions in your complaint and they are not dealt with, you will likely be told that is because they’re irrelevant.
Complaints by fax
I am aware of one person who complained by fax. Unfortunately for him, when he enquired some time later as to the status of his complaint he was told there was no record of it having been received in the system.
Complaints by email
This I consider the most efficient and least time-consuming process for the complainant. It creates an immediate paper trail and any inefficiency on the Council’s part cannot be blamed on the complainant. If the Council’s system breaks down one can simply resend the complaint by the press of a button.
Complaints by snail mail
Although still accepted practice for formality, most efficient modern businesses readily accept email. For complainants however, without access to email, it is to be noted Auckland Council provides the address Private Bag 92300, Auckland 1141. It is interesting to note the addressee is “Complaints and Issue Management Team”.
Since amalgamation the replacement of individuals by teams is noticeable.
It is possible if you lodge a complaint you will be asked to take part in Council sponsored research conducted by phone. Council actually hire a research firm to find out what customers who have complained think of the Council service. My earlier blog “More Demockery” (click on Recent Posts at right) gives more detail.
Complaints to the Mayor
The Mayor is a very busy person, so he has a Chief of Staff, Phil Wilson, who gets to decide whether complaints personally addressed to the Mayor will, in fact, be read by the Mayor.
Complaints to the CEO
The CEO is a very busy person, so in response to a complaint which I was told was forwarded to him at 9.10 am on 28 April 2011, I received an email on 4 May 2011 from the PA of the Manager of the Local Board Services Department advising me the Manager would like to ring me the following day to discuss my letter. Despite the Council’s outlined procedure, the Manager rang me next day to say she was likely to recommend to the CEO that my complaint not be accepted as a Code of Conduct complaint.
Complaints to the Ombudsmen
This is a last resort and for ratepayers seeking wet bus ticket treatment is a good place to go. I will give more detail in a future blog.