Saturday, 15 March 2014

Why don't people complain about bad public services?


Perhaps it's the futility of the exercise?

Nearly half of people who complained about problems with a public service in the past year felt their complaint was ignored, according to new research from Which?

The research also found that a third of people who experienced problems with public services did not complain, with most saying it was not worth the effort. Of those that did complain, 39% said they were unhappy with the outcome.

I don't know about my councillor colleagues but these findings are something of a damning statement about our councils' services (not to mention other public agencies services). Not that we get stuff wrong and generate complaints but that the public - or a whole lot of them - don't think complaining is worth while and, when they do complain, the response from the offending public service isn't good enough.

We spend a lot of time (well I don't but lots of officers and councillors do) pontificating about 'public sector ethos' and sneeringly referring to the private sector as a place of wickedness and ethical inadequacy. What this Which survey tells us is that all this grand talk of public sector moral superiority is just a load of wibble when is comes to the very basics of service.



Anonymous said...

If I complain to Tesco or British Gas or Ford, and they fail to handle that complaint well, I have the option to take my business elsewhere and to encourage all my friends and relations to do likewise.
With public services, there is no such ultimate sanction, so the organisation keeps all the 'business' and the jobsworths keep their jobs, pensions and negative approach to customer service.

A 'customer' is someone who can take his trade elsewhere, the public sector (councils, government, NHS etc) does not understand this because it doesn't need to.

Curmudgeon said...

Anon has basically said it - if you can't take your business elsewhere, what incentive is there for councils to act on complaints?

And in more and more aspects of their activities, councils seem to want to influence your behaviour rather than providing useful services. They seem far keener to install road humps than to fix potholes.