An example of just how inconsiderate, inconvenient and inefficient Bexley Council's management policies can be at times

Once upon a time…

If you wanted to speak to someone in the council tax department you could pick up the phone, dial 0181 303 7777, Ext 5392, and speak to someone in the council tax department. Simple as that!

Sent To Coventry! Nowadays, it seems it’s a different story. When I had a problem to sort out and I dialled the number for the council tax department I was connected to someone in Coventry. "Coventry? Whereabouts in the Bexley borough is that I asked? Oh never mind. Can I speak to someone in the council tax department?" "No, sorry!" came the reply. "They have no contact numbers anymore." "However," the man said, "I can email them at Bexleyheath and someone will call you back within twenty-four hours." "Oh! But I really want to speak to someone now. I can’t sit around for the next twenty-four hours waiting for someone to call. I have shopping to do, kids to pick up from school and work to fit in, I need to speak to someone now." "Well sorry, that’s the best I can do." "Ok." I said. "Thank you." After all, it wasn’t his fault. The next day someone did ring and speak to my answer machine while I was out, but unfortunately, no contact number was left. Nobody called again that day and so the next day I called the switchboard once more, but this time, instead of dialling the extension number, I waited for the operator to answer so that I could specifically request the council tax department and not the call centre. But alas, the operator also said that there was no way to speak to council tax department anymore and I was again sent to Coventry.

Infuriating! The following day someone from the council tax department called once more and left another message, this time while I was out shopping. How infuriating! There was still no contact number for me to return the call. Three days had gone by now and I still hadn’t been able to speak to anyone. No one called again that day and so the next day I phoned the call centre once more and asked the man if he could email the department and get them to ring me urgently, i.e. straight away, and this time I would wait in specifically and sit by the phone. When he said there’s no guarantee that they’ll look at the email straight away I felt a wash of hapless resignation sweep over me at the thought of this going on and on, and on and on. Being somewhat sympathetic to my dilemma, the man said he would try his best for me. Luckily, this did work, and after a while, someone did ring and we managed to get the problem sorted out. However, this was four days, countless phone calls and an onset of mild insanity later. Whose bright idea was it anyway to send the public to Coventry over their council tax?

What's The Point? Recently, I tried ringing the call centre again regarding a different problem. The number was permanently engaged over a period of one afternoon. Fortunately, I still have a phone number for a direct line, which the council tax manager gave me owing to the complexity of solving the previous problem and the fact that I was now having to get counselling to overcome the stress and trauma. Luckily for me, this means I can still get problems attended to expediently by somebody qualified and in a position to do something. Like it used to be, and perhaps how it should be. I mean, what is the point in employing people that can do nothing about your problem except pass on a message and, who says that people's time in the council tax department is any more important than ours? How many of us can afford to sit by the phone waiting and waiting and waiting on the off chance that they might ring? Not many. Most people are too busy rushing about trying to earn their council tax!