Cllrs William Carey and Derren Ó Brádaigh have called upon South Dublin County Council to reverse their decision to restrict “Customer Care” opening hours to the public. SDCC have recently cut back the opening hours of their customer care desk to 2 hours per day (10am -12pm). This is despite the heavy footfall of activity at SDCC offices for assistance by the public. Previously the customer care desk was open to the public, both in the morning, and the afternoon (10-12pm & 2-4pm). Customers who had difficulty accessing council services by phone or have issues with addressing services online quite often present at SDCC offices seeking information, register their complaints and make maintenance requests. The cut back in opening hours follows recent statements from SDCC management that services continue to move to their digital platforms. They are encouraging more engagement of services through the online portal.
According to Cllr Carey “There is an obvious need to maintain the public facility that is one-to-one Customer Care. Slashing the opening hours will simply mean doubling the queues at the offices in both Clondalkin and Tallaght. The other aspect to be considered here is very often people may not be able to attend the offices in the mornings due to work commitments and can only attend later in the day. The issue is further exacerbated by the council refusing to take new maintenance request either by email or telephone and to make matters worse are now apparently denying public representatives the opportunity to make requests on their behalf as these are the primary method of request by public representatives such as TDs and Cllrs.
Also remarking on this decision Cllr Ó Brádaigh stated “The decision to curtail services is in this way is a worrying development and does not reflect the actual needs of the councils own customers. I understand that the councils own staff were only made aware of this decision days before changes came into effect. Furthermore, councillors had no prior notification regarding the sudden specific closure of services or times. I witnessed first hand the frustration being felt by customers at the building from last Monday, unaware of the changes and being turned away from services they need! I understand that the only communication that was circulated to the public was via the councils website and social media on the Friday prior.”
Cllr Carey further added “There remains a large cohort of people who have real anxiety using technology and the use of online services. People are not robots, nor do they wish to engage with a robot or a computer response. There are a lot of people who are reluctant to use online services either through mistrust of technology or inability to navigate through these portals. As a public service SDCC and other authorities should be compelled to offer a human contact option for their customers and clients”.