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Thread: Poor Customer Service by a Municipality

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Poor Customer Service by a Municipality

    This is a relevant professional topic, but I didn't know where to put it.

    It's 2:43 local time and I have been trying to reach a City of 4,000 people for the last 15 minutes.

    I looked for a City website... NO DICE;
    I found a City Hall phone number and called... NO DICE (it range a dozen times and no answering machine);
    I found an e-mail address for the City Clerk and my e-mail got kicked back;
    I'm about to call 911.

    I know that there are private sector entities that are just as hard to contact, but I expect more from a local unit of government. I guarantee you that doesn't happen here. Do you have any similar experiences? I also hear from contractors that my City is one of the easiest to do work in because of your responsiveness in the permitting process.

    Thoughts... experiences.... frustrations....
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    one of the district office for an unnamed state I used to live in for their state highway department had an unlisted phone #...

  3. #3

    It's a city of 4000, maybe you should try calling up residents at random and ask them if they know the mayor.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    If it is a city of 4,000 there might be a chance that the office is only open part time, and someone forgot to turn voice mail on.

    Or, Bob, the only full time non-emergency person is out sick.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    If it is a city of 4,000 there might be a chance that the office is only open part time, and someone forgot to turn voice mail on.
    Most towns of 4,000 have at least a couple full time people. I know this town has as full time city manager and city clerk. Maybe I should call and get the number to the local coffee shop, they're probably hanging out down there.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Patience, Grasshopper. All things must happen in their own time. Fifteen minutes isn't so long.

    Call information and get the phone number of the city clerk. Or talk to someone in the county who might know who to call in the city.

    We generally have good public service in Montana. But we also have a lot of towns that have part-time workers in the government. Sometimes it takes a while and a little creative thinking to get hold of people.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I work for a county of 30,000 people in Indiana. If my co-worker and I take lunch at the same time or have to attend a meeting we just hang a sign on the door that says, "be back in an hour". No zoning compliance permits are too important that we can't leave the office unattended for awhile here in the Midwest. We enjoy life to the fullest here in small town America!

  8. #8
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Our phones were out for 30 minutes yesterday, I hope Budgie wasn't trying to call.

    You really have to get under 1000 population for the limited hours. I've also seen where the Mayor or someone died and they closed up shop for an afternoon.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  9. #9
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Sounds like poor customer service - but sometimes poor service is a result of inadequate funding which could possibly be the reason here. No money for a website. As mskis said maybe they only have a couple of full time employees and something important just happened or they are only open limited hours. I have seen larger jurisdiction in some instances have limited hours and days.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I use to occassionally have to deal with a small village where the village hall use to be a Pizza Hut or something, and there was rarely anyone there. But, the one time I did get through I asked for the numbers for the village attorney and village engineer (who consulted from a firm), cause I was always eventually directed to talk to the two of them anyway. Never had to bother trying to call the village again.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I pity anyone who has to call our building department, that someone is sometimes my Fiance (the conversation, of course, I get to hear about later).

    I did call a neighboring town's planning office for a personal research question once. Let's just say they had already "checked out for the day" on the other end.

    I wonder what The District has to say about his dealings with a certain planner/office today...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Our Utilities dept (in a county of over 300,000) is the only department that has no email contacts listed. I can email a county commissioner at midnight if I want to, but I can't send a message to utilties about my garbage pickup. Why are they so special?

    Yeah, small towns can be frustrating to deal with. They may have one planner, and if he/she is sick or on vacation, you're screwed until they get back.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Say what??

    I am located in a RURAL area, and I certainly understand the limited hours of most of the municipalities. Last week, I attempted to call a town and got a busy signal all morning. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I could assume it was broken or inadvertantly off the hook. When I finally got through, the woman answered 'hello?'. I apolgized for dialing the wrong number and she admitted that I had, in fact, reached the Town Office.
    I asked for the clerk; no dice. I asked for the Codes Enforcement Office; no dice. I asked to leave a message; NO DICE!!! She actually told me that she'd rather not take a message and could I call back tomorrow instead!
    Maybe she could sense that I was calling to let them know they neglected to consult the County on something, and an article 78 lawsuit was about to ensue.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  14. #14
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    SC is notorious for this....especially in the very small towns....oh wait that's half of them. Many of the small towns have roving administrators because they cannot afford to have a full time city manager.

    A shining example: A friend of mine that previously lived here for 10 months teaching at a university received a speeding ticket issued in a very small county. He did not appear in court but sent his fine payment in and received a receipt. The county did not forward a needed piece of paper to the SC DMV that the fine was paid. My friend has a Pennsylvania license and the SC DMV put a suspension notice on the license because of the ticket in the small county.

    My friend spent several days trying to get in touch with the office that dealt with the tickets to no avail. I tried as well and had to resort to a 2 hour drive to go get the necessary paperwork to resolve the issue. I asked the clerk why nobody answered the phone or returned a voice mail and she said because it was only her working! I also asked why there was no information on the internet or any email contacts and she said "Oh, we don't do that here."
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  15. #15
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Dude, it is Friday at 2:45... There is no telling what is going on. My guess is there is an event that staff is at and they forgot to turn on the voicemail system. Or heck... only 15 minutes, the receptionist might just be in the can.

    I know planners who turn their phones off at a certain part of the day... not becuase they dont care, but becuase if they answered phones all day no work would ever get done... I always find it most effective to go to a place in person.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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