OPINION: ‘Account queries fall on deaf ears’

DEAR Editor,-

I have been trying to resolve an account query with Ugu and visited their ‘Customer Services’ offices in Oslo Beach, which proved to be the worst customer service experience of my life. Residents of Oslo Beach received estimates over a 15-month period up to October 2016, after which readings were taken and consumers were slammed with huge bills due to a flawed software programme used to produce ‘updated’ bills.

It took me no less than four visits and two dozen calls to convince Ugu officials that my R6 000 bill was incorrect because the kilolitre usage for the period July 15, 2015 to October 10, 2016 is reflected on the invoice as kilolitres used over the period November 6, 2015 to October 10, 2016. The invoice further excluded all deposits made from July to October 2015 and was charged at the maximum penalty tariff.

During my last, extremely frustrating visit to the offices, I was told to wait in a cubicle until a so-called ‘revised’ bill of R2 500 was handed to me – also incorrect. The revision was done in my absence as they refused to engage me in any way. If this had been done, we could have compared figures to arrive at the correct amount. Being an accountant before my retirement, I surely know how to apply the ratios to calculate a simple invoice.

Ugu now refuses to communicate with me over the matter. I get no response to emails or any other correspondence. All the visits and calls resulted in nothing. Any call to Ugu and you get told that ‘the only person capable of dealing with these problems (accountant) is in an all-day meeting to resolve the recent water crisis. I don’t really blame staff members for the pathetic state of affairs – we all know that these problems are rooted in poor managerial skills.

A question to the municipal manager: A notice board at the Oslo Beach offices states that when an account query is lodged, a receipt of acknowledgement and reference number will be handed to the customer, who will be contacted within a certain time-frame and the two parties would meet to resolve the issue. All staff denounced this at the office and informed me that this procedure was not followed any longer? So why not remove this notice if it is outdated?

I am really at the end of my tether and would just like to get my account sorted out, but all my efforts to date have been to no avail. Who do I turn to? Surely the accounts department staff are there to sort out consumer queries and are not required to attend all-day water crisis meetings?

SH GROENEWALD

Oslo Beach

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