The Punt: On hold? Here's a chance for a good old moan
EVER picked up the phone to vent your anger against a service provider or utility firm only to be greeted with an automated voice recorder . . . which infuriated you even more? Now, finally, you can air your moans and groans.
A new nationwide study is being launched to find out how well Irish customers are being served by their bank, their mobile phone company, and their power company.
The Punt is not entirely sure they'll like the results.
Customers from all over Ireland are invited to take part in three separate online questionnaires, and those behind it want candid feedback. They promise each survey at www.WasItOK.com/Ireland takes less than 10 minutes to complete, which is a lot less than most of us spend on hold desperately waiting to speak to a human being.
"We see this type of customer experience study as more of a "dissatisfaction baseline", because although we are keen to discover the service strengths of individual companies, we are especially keen to find out what's broken," said Paul Linnell, of service-quality improvement firm CTMA which is behind the initiative.
"We all have a private moan sometimes about something that's gone wrong, but here's the chance for customers to make their experience, good or bad, part of a serious national study of service quality," he added.
Landlords put homeless focus back on State
FEW may have sympathy with their views, but landlords have stridently defended their role in the homeless crisis and the refusal to accept tenants on rent supplement.
Chairman of the Irish Property Owners' Association Stephen Faughnan points out that it is not the fault of landlords that the State has not built sufficient social housing. He blames government for the failure of the private rental market to fill the gap.
The average number of properties owned by private landlords is one, with many in negative equity and with heavy mortgages attached, Mr Faughnan says. Landlords need to let their properties at the market rate, and not at the rent supplement level, which he maintains is 15pc off the market rate.
The Government penalises people in receipt of rent supplement by capping it, but then blames landlords for not being willing to subsidise the accommodation, the landlords say.
The State has blatantly decided to penalise landlords by a long series of indirect taxation measures, which results in rental income being taxed on a loss making situation, Mr Faughnan says.
Landlords can only claim a tax relief on 75pc of the interest they pay on the mortgage on their property. And promises of allowing a tax deduction on the property tax have not been kept.
Mr Faughnan was doing fine until he then went on in his statement to claim that rents have fallen by 40pc from the peak in 2007. According to both the Central Statistics Office and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) rents are down 25pc from the peak of the property market.
Still, some interesting points were made by Mr Faughnan.
Sacre bleu, Iarnrod Eireann not worst after all
IT'S not so long ago that a colleague of The Punt returned from a trip to France and hailed its public transport system as one of the best in the world. So it made The Punt chuckle, quite a lot, to see its national rail company has made a bit of a blunder one might expect to happen here.
SNCF has ordered 2,000 trains, inset, for its expanding regional network – only to find they are too wide for many station platforms which will entail lengthy repairs which have already cost €80m.
Note to self Iarnrod Eireann; suddenly commuter trains that don't / won't go over leaves on the tracks don't seem so bad.
A spokesman for the RFF national rail operator confirmed the error, first reported by satirical weekly 'Canard Enchaine'.
"We discovered the problem a bit late, we recognise that and we accept responsibility on that score," Christophe Piednoel told France Info radio.
Construction work has already begun to reconfigure station platforms to give the new trains room to pass through.