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Customer Services

Customer services have another good day

This morning I popped into Perceval House to get a parking permit.

This time it was for real, not just a jolly mystery shopping exercise.

I arrived at 9:20am, I was seen at 9:35am and left the building with a shiny new parking permit at 9:43am.

When I arrived there was a queue of 6 people for permits. There were four Parking Services stations open and I was told that the fifth would be filled later that morning by a lady who works the middle-of-the-day busy period around her children’s school hours – a very sensible bit of flexible working I reckon.

On the negative side the main door hasn’t been working since my first trip, the glass of the front door is all messed up with bits of old sticky tape and there is a lot of litter around the steps. I can feel an e-mail coming on.

I would be very interested to hear your Ealing council customer service stories – good or bad.

13 replies on “Customer services have another good day”

The Council asked local stakeholders in 2004 what they wanted in Dickens Yard. The stakeholders accepted what the Council proposed and these desires were enshrined in Planning Guidelines for the site.

St George’s April 2008 Planning Applications for Dickens Yard are around twice what was agreed in terms of height, bulk, accommodation and parking in the 2004 Planning Guidelines.

The fact that Ealing Council’s Planning department hasn’t already thrown out these Planning Applications is a significant failure in ‘Council Customer Services’.

I`ve found customer services to be very good overall and put a lot of this down to empathy and personal knowledge of the borough by older local staff, not only with good clear English but with an understanding of normal and customary practice on a variety of issues.

Are you sure you wandered into the London Borough of Ealing customer services Robert? When I walked in I got a ticket shoved in my hand and a vague grunt and point towards the ‘green’ area. Then after waiting 90 minutes I walked out in disgust. All I wanted to do was hand in a planning application. A simple handover to the receptionist or post box would have sufficed. But no. The system meant I had to queue to do this despite my protestations at the time. Crazy and inefficient and nothing whatsoever like that described by mr Darke above!!!

Vincent, My comments are accurate and based on phoning customer services on 8825-6000 and various problems having been sorted out ranging from changing a bulb in a lamppost to moving on a concentration of full skips causing noticeable parking difficulties. I wouldn`t like this gateway part of the service, easily taken for granted, to go downhill and feel its important to maintain a nucleus of experienced local staff having good knowledge of the borough.
It may have been a frustrating visit to Perceval House but the planning officeer may have done a quick check before accepting your application. I think you would find it extremely difficult coping with the planning objection which I`m represting for an elderly relative which has now passed the two year mark!

Vincent,

I am a little confused. Why didn’t you just send in the planning application?

I am not entirely sure of my ground but typically there will only be one duty planner on duty so if you get in the planning queue you may have to wait while that one planner spends some large amount of time with one or two people in front of you.

Dear Phil,
My experiences of the reception area of Perceval House have been mixed. I cannot understand why two huge doors at the end of long corridor require you to go for quite a long wander on the way in. If the doors do not work, why not leave a pair of facing sets of doors open minimising the walk required for my tired legs.
My comment is about the Housing/Council Tax Benefit reception. I see a different person every time who has no idea about my long case history. They try and cut me off after ten minutes (or if they do not their supervisor does) althought this is not enough to digest my case records and assimilate them. They ask for information which I provide, and then they write to me asking for the same information again, or in a different format. They also ask me for information that I do not legally have to give them. They are generally aggressive on the telephone. The system that you are running has no concept of ownership or responsibility for individual cases and the staff are not knowledgeable about the law or processes.
This is all very sadly depressing, especially for someone like me who is a carer for someone else and is not in the best of help myself. My experiences are not unique among my friends and I know that many people are being short-changed by the council tax benefits/finance people storing up much ill-feeling and potential legal action and liability in the future.
Yours tiredly,
Philly

Eric,
The reason why the planning applications you mention have not been throw out already is the way that the planning and building people work. Remember, this area of the council has a Business Manager to maximise revenues from planning applications and ancillary services. They do not view their role as being there to help the residents of Ealing who employ them to manage the urban planning of the Borough. They love these applications–it is Jobs for the Boys; it keeps them employed and all their consultant friends in the money. If one area could be privatised in the council it should be the planning department.
Maggie.

Remember Eric, you only have to go down to the Ascott Allotments to see Planning and Building Control INACTION (the word inaction is deliberately written as such. The place is filled with illegal wooden structures.

Maggie,

It really is not very helpful to make endless postings about Ascot Allotments and generally slagging off the council without making any proper attempt to get in touch and explain your issues. Can you write to me with a proper address please so that I can look into your problem?

I have tried writing to your e-mail address but clearly that is just your little joke.

Margaret Thatcher is no joke. She is the greatest statesman that we have had in the post-war era. She is my idol and her vision is extraordinary. Single-handedly she set our nation on a path away from the most poluting carbon fuel of all: coal. While Germany subsidises the coal industry as one of its five opt out areas of the economy and Poland wrestles with the on-going effects of brown coal polution we are looking towards nuclear energy and a much better future.

I have said nothing that is not true about the council, in fact if you would like me to go deeper into the council’s failings I would be delighted to. Ealing is in a bad way with crumbling infrastructure and inept administration.

I think that Councillor Stacey has made valuable steps towards bringing Ealing forward, and he is responsive and listens to what the electorate are saying. However, it is time to put the house in order behind the glass facade of Perceval House.

Performance targets and accountability are the first step in this. Staff who are required to identify themselves fully. Secondly. Unision must be broken. Ealing council is like a retirement home for very lazy people.

One could continue onward.

Why not just get a copy of the Allotment Bye-laws and read the Allotment Acts and go down and have a wander through the Ascott Allotments and decide whether these really are allotments for the production of vegetables, or not?

Maggie.

I’d like to share my experiences of my visits to try to get parking permits as it seems pointless complaining to the council.
On my first visit I had to queue up to get a ticket which allowed me to go in and queue again. I then took one of the few remaining seats in the waiting area eagerly awaiting for my number to come up. After a while of not getting any closer to having my turn, I noticed two ladies at the parking permit desks chatting and showing off a new handbag. A reason to be forced to wait? I’m not so sure.
Eventually, I got a permit and on my way out asked the ticket lady why there was so many people waiting yet so many council staff doing nothing. I was told they could not do each other’s job and that the council were looking into training some staff to be multiskilled. I wonder how hard it is to issue little pink parking permits, I reckon I could probably get the hang of that in around 10 minutes.
On my next visit I didn’t have to queue to get the ticket allowing me to queue further but that’s because everyone else was already inside queuing. To my surprise, this time I saw handbag-lady eating a packet of Pringles whilst dozens of us taxpayers had to queue. Having a job unfortunately doesn’t allow me to become a full time queuer at the parking permits department so I had to abandon my attempt to get a permit. Not being allowed to park outside my own home for free, I now park 20 yards away outside someone else’s home for free. I may attempt to get a permit again in future but it seems like a waste of time, effort and money.
I know this rant is dragging on but there seems to be plenty of space on this form for such things. In summary, I wonder whether the person in charge of this abortion really should be in his or her post as they are obviously clueless. Maybe they should spend a day in the real world which is where organisations have to provide good customer service and value for money in order to survive. The council should not continue wasting our money on people like this. I find it slightly odd that traffic wardens are encouraged to get the job done with their bonus scheme whereas the lazybones in the council office can plod on at whatever pace they feel like and take time off to look at handbags and munch on pringles. Why not put them on commission, the more permits they issue, the more they get paid.

John,

Sorry you have had a bad experience. I will keep making visits myself.

In the meantime, you might consider applying by post. You can download a form for a parking permit and send it in. Click here.

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