Residents put out by call centre failure

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014

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An out-of-town council call centre operator has angered a group of Waitara residents, and left them calling for Taranaki folk to be employed instead.

Lynton Hotter and David and Joy Roguski, of the Waitara Savage and Entertainment Club said they were left feeling frustrated after phoning the New Plymouth District Council's after hours call centre.

They were about to perform to an audience of about 70 people in the Waitara Hall in May when they discovered the gas heater wasn't working.

When David Roguski phoned the council's after hours service the operator on the phone didn't even know where Waitara was, let alone the hall.

"I kept telling her it's on the main road, you can't miss it," he said.

"But she couldn't find it on her computer."

That first call was at 6.30pm and over an hour and a half later David's wife Joy Roguski phoned the same number again to find out why a contractor still hadn't arrived.

When the contractor finally arrived it turned out the gas had been turned off outside and the heater needed to be reset, but the reset button was in a locked boxed.

Hotter said if the council had to have a call centre it should be manned by people who had local knowledge and were able to dispatch contractors to the right addresses.

It was not good enough to have a "foreigner we couldn't understand and who was completely unaware that Waitara existed".

But council's manager of customer and regulatory services, Mary-Anne Priest said the council was happy with the service.

The call centre, run by Armourguard, was based in Auckland, and the council had outsourced its after hours call centre since 1989, she said.

Council has used Armourguard for three years and had only received the one complaint about an operator who could not speak "good English", she said

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