Thursday, September 24, 2009

Customer Service

Slightly alarming letter from Social Services today, telling me that my Direct Payments Monitoring Return had been due at the end of July and that if I did not submit it within 14 days I would be in Trouble.

Quick call to the office who sent the letter, turns out it's a form that I have to send in with some bank statements and whatnot, to show that I am properly using the Direct Payments money. They sent it to me at the beginning of June. It didn't arrive. Happily, they believed me that it didn't arrive and are going to send another copy.

Much relieved, I decided to pull out my big Social Services folder (when you have brainfog but have to deal with reams of paperwork for government organisations, you develop excellent administrative habits) to make sure that I had all the bank statements and timesheets and suchlike to hand. I felt happy and confident in my filing system - all the bits of paper were grouped together in their little sections, and in date order within those sections - when I spotted alarm bell number two. One of the statements was missing. The one that would have been sent at... can you guess?... the beginning of June.

I'm not even going to bother with a rant about Royal Mail. There is a persistent problem here with mail (particularly birthday cards) not arriving, packages being left unattended on the doorstep, you name it, and all we ever get told is that nothing can or will be done unless the item of mail was sent by a Signed For or Special Delivery service and we are able to get the sender to provide the receipt for this service.

What I am going to do, is praise the customer service of the bank. I phoned the local branch. A person picked up within a few rings, no automated system. The person spoke good English and offered me two options - I could have a printout of the transactions for the missing period sent for free, or I could have a duplicate statement sent, but that would cost £5. I explained what I needed it for and asked what she thought I should do. She offered that she could send the printout, free, but stamp it with the bank stamp and the date stamp, and then if Social Services said that wasn't good enough, then I could pay the fee and get a 'proper' statement. Whole conversation took less than five minutes. Hurrah.


erasmus (aka jiva) said...

with my online banking I can print out a whole statement from any of the past year by myself without paying. £5 is a bit rich! Anyways I agree, postal services can suck. I'm surprised we get anything we're meant to.

Mary said...

Well yes, this is it, a printout is free and they will send me a printout for free.

I'm not sure what extra information an "official" statement has on it. I suspect it's tax-related.

Unknown said...

Hi Mary

You should name your bank. Such (unfortunately, unexpected, these days) good service deserves free publicity!

Mary said...

If it was my hairdresser or my yarn shop then I would agree. But not my bank, not online.

Anonymous said...

Yay for nice bank staff! Boo DWP

(Spouse has finally gone and got the DLA forms, yesterday, and made a commitment to fill them in for me.)

I'm still Supermouse that was around before, but I've decided to link to my Livejournal, because keeping a second, more interesting blog is unlikely to happen in the near future.

Naomi J. said...

Direct Payment returns drive me absolutely crazy, every three months. Unlike you, I am unable to develop a clear, confident filing system. My local authority does not make allowances for dyspraxia, anxiety or anything else that makes filing these returns difficult. I'm fairly sure that they'll cut off my DPs at some point because I've got confused over a 'return' or missed a due date for one.

If I had the spoons, I'd take my LA to judicial review over their policies regarding these 'returns'.

Mary said...

It's not that exciting a system. There's a big lever-arch file that is "social services". That has tabbed dividers in it and each divider section has maybe half a dozen A4 plastic sleeves, not all of which contain anything.

So in the divider section for Ongoing Paperwork is a sleeve for bank statements, a sleeve for the BACS slips from SS, a sleeve for my PA's timesheets, and a sleeve for the "Service User Copy" of all her payslips. I put them away as they arrive, newest ones at the front.

Hands up who thinks that the Blue Badge should also come with a store discount card for Staples or WHSmith?

Naomi J. said...

I've attempted to create a similar system, but I am irrationally terrified of filing (really) so it doesn't really happen properly. I keep trying to find a PA who will competently file for me, without it taking up so much of my energy to explain where each piece of paper goes that I might as well do it myself. It hasn't happened yet.

Small Business Answering service said...

I enjoyed reading your post about your good customer service experience..I am agreed with Denice that such good service deserves free publicity!