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Thread: Gripe: customer service

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)

    Gripe: customer service

    Hi folks--
    When I've worked for jurisdictions I've always made every possible attempt to assist the public, applicants, the media, et al. (Consequently I have a portfolio full of written kudos and personnel files packed with compliments.) But that's just me.
    I am about to get in my car and drive about 100 miles round trip to visit a township on the north side of metro Detroit. It seems that someone else dropped off full-size site plans for a wireless tower installation...these are revisions that depict a wrought iron fence (the only change form the set I filed a few weeks ago). The admin rang up my associate to say, "we can't review these plans because they haven't been folded."
    Yep, I called to plead. No go. When I filed my set, the planner and I stood there and folded them at the counter. "Well, that was your lucky day."
    Geez louise. If it would not be detrimental to our case, I'd call a twp commissioner...
    --Karen M.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    As a former municipal planning director, my obligation is to serve the taxpayer and not the cell tower developer. When I would have 3 page plan commission agendas, my staff could spend literally hours folding other peoples plans... At tax payer expense. Not a productive use of public funds, eh?

    That fee you pay is supposed to cover the cost of providing your review service, not the cost of covering for your associate's laziness. I have found over my 15 year career that too many developers - and especially their consultants - do not perform community-specific due diligence. They believe it is easier to fix one or two (or more) submittal ommissions per project than to try hard and do it right the first time by tailoring their approach to the community -- a "throw the sh*t on the wall and see what sticks" approach. On a side note, that community eventually implemented a plan folding requirement, but would fold your submittal for an additional $85.00 per hour charged against your review. In cases like yours, it would probably have been worth it if that option existed.

    Now, as a consultant to municipalities (and occassionally developers), my position has softened a bit, but I still have to say, "Sorry, suck it up". If your associate did not perform due diligence to see that this community had this requirement, then your associate is in the wrong. Maybe they didnt deliver the news to you in a polite way, but you were starting from a bad place anyway. You are right in not conplaining, but for the wrong (and selfish) reason.

  3. #3
    Mod Gedunker's avatar
    Aug 2003
    The Wonderland Way
    If you have to kill a man, said Winston Churchill, it costs nothing extra to be polite.

    I am proud of my staff's politeness but it sometimes goes over into being taken advantage of, and I have to remind them of their responsibility to say "no". Folding plans is but one area where we spend huge amounts of time with no recompense. I frankly hadn't thought about a requirement, but maybe it is time.

    We had an administrative assistant who had her very own unique folding method. It caused all kinds of glee for me to watch PC/ZBA members try to fold and unfold her craftwork. I get nostalgic sometimes when I come across one of her plans folded in some old docket file.
    Not valid without corporate seal

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Sep 2001
    skating on thin ice
    I'd give anything for a plan that was of a scale and prepared in a manner that needed to be folded. All I seem to get are sketches on three ring binder paper or
    computer paper. At least I don't get them on cigarette packs anymore. (Serious)

    As for customer service, remember that you are asking the municipality for a favour/special treatment. In doing so, should you not make it as easy as possible for them to process your request?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    I have given un-stapled and un-sorted plans back to developers and said that they have to assemble them. We have some people who will come in with 15 copies of full size 5-10 page sets of plans all rolled up, but not sorted and stapled. Talk about annoying and time consuming. It could easily take staff an hour just to sort and staple one set. I cannot stand lazy developers and applicants that don't read the submittal requirements and ordinances. Developers could save so much time and money if they would just follow directions. How hard is it to read a two-page handout or a couple of pages of an ordinance?

  6. #6

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    We require collation and folding, too. Its not an unusual requirement, for all of the reasons Chet (and others) have listed.

    Sometimes, if I am not in a big hurry, I will help the applicant fold their plans (we'll do it together).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    Our jurisdiction has no folding requirement. The planners and plan reviewers have to do it. Oftentimes, we have also gotten stuck making all the copies to send to other staff for review. What a pain!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
    Mar 2002
    Amen Chet, I cant tell you the number of folks I have sent packing becouse their plans were not folded, put together, signed (insert other problem) etc.

    Im happy to give them a stapler and a bit of floor space (sorry we dont have open desks to use) to work on getting them right. Nor will I "insert a few pages" into a set. If you only have a couple of problems with a set and I KNOW you and your work I will be happy to let your intern insert pages in a corner in my office. If I dont know you and your work you submit full new sets.

    If you make the same mistake more than once on a set I reject your plans outright, put a huge red X on the page and send the owner a copy of a very nice letter telling them their designer/engineer/whatever cant follow directions. After I did that a couple times such problems stoped happening
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Feb 2002
    How is the folding / collating requirement worded? We don't require it now, and so I usually have to fold the plans myself, and make copies of the application. I would like to require them to be submitted folded, but I'd be worried by what we would get. It's probably easier for me to do them right the first time, then to get them in all screwed up and have to fix it.

  10. #10
    "Applicant shall provide 15 sets of sorted, folded, and stapled plans and any other relevant information"

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    How is the folding / collating requirement worded?

    Check this one out . The requirement is near the top of page 2.

  12. #12
          Downtown's avatar
    Oct 2000
    Under a pile of back issue Plannings
    sigh. I'm not going to be very sympathetic either.... I literally JUST called an architect because:
    1. His application was not signed
    2. He had the wrong address
    3. He submitted floor plans, not site plans
    4. The current use is different on his Planning application than his approved ZV
    5. The proposed use is not even specified on the application

    argh. I wish I could ban this jack ass from ever working in the Town again. I cringe every time a project comes in from him, because it means an extra 2 hours of my time working out an acceptable landscaping plan for the site. grrrrrrrr.

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