MY SAY: Government workers owe us customer service too
MAYBE it's time we deregulate government services to a company with an outbound call centre in the Philippines to improve customer service.
I'm talking about services like Centrelink, Queensland Transport, Immigration and all the other government departments that often treat their customers like low-life scum and not people paying their salaries.
Have you had to deal with a government department lately?
The reality is you will spend more time talking to a machine than a human.
And if you dare to question an issue, expect to be stonewalled.
Don't tell me these departments are services that don't make money.
When you have Queensland Transport automatically placing a 33% sting if you are an hour late with your high-priced registration payment - and then fining you if you happen to be caught by its camera - that department is making money.
When taxpayers contribute a huge percentage of their income to help finance services like Centrelink, that department is making money.
The same goes for immigration, which has the added financial boon of ripping off people from foreign countries like South Africa who simply want to visit their family here.
I don't even mind paying all these fees and taxes.
But when something goes wrong, I expect to be able to speak to somebody and have an empathetic ear.
I get this from my privatised telephone company, my bank, my electricity provider and all the other former government services which have been sold off amidst much outcry.
Take my recent experience with Queensland Transport.
I knew my registration was due when travelling around Australia, but as there is no more sticker on the car, I wasn't sure which of my two cars were first.
I went online, paid the one I thought was due and drove into an area with no signal.
When we had reception again, my mum phoned as the registration renewal for the other I had just paid had arrived in the post. It dawned on me I had paid the wrong registration and now the car due was 24 hours late.
I phoned Queensland Transport and after being on hold for about 20 minutes, was told to forget it, pay the $56 penalty on my six monthly payments as exemptions were only considered in "medical emergencies".
My bank looks at my history and consider exemptions if I miss a payment. So do other private services so why should I be penalised for the first ever honest mistake with Queensland Transport?
I was told the only hope I had of getting the issue considered was to send a handwritten letter. Seriously, who uses the postal service anymore?
Anyway, I sent a postcard from Broome and a senior person with common sense eventually phoned back and a concession was made.
But what a load of stress to get to that point.
I've been trying to get through to Centrelink lately and it seems the norm to be told "we have an unusual amount of calls and your wait time will be approximately 30 minutes".
How is that acceptable? Why is it?
I pay my taxes, when I need a government person I don't want to spend my entire lunch break on hold.