Picture:Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture:Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Amendment bill aims to improve customer services at post offices

By Karen Singh Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

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DURBAN - THE government wants to improve customer services at the country’s post offices.

This is according to a Draft Amendment of the Customer Care Standards Regulations for Postal Services Licensees that has been published for public comment.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) gazetted the draft amendment last week requesting that written representations be submitted before the May 5, 2021 deadline.

Icasa said the aim of the amendment bill was to support the provision of quality postal services by updating minimum standards, some of which include accessibility, visibility, languages and reports on complaints received, to protect consumers.

It added that the postal services sector was key to the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the population.

Post offices in rural areas may offer surrounding communities different services compared to those rendered in urban areas, it said.

“It is therefore required of the Postal Services Licensee to provide good quality services to all communities, irrespective of their social standing, where they are situated, the languages they speak, or any disabilities they may have,” said Icasa councillor Dr Charley Lewis.

Lewis said that in an effort to protect consumers, as mandated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act 13 of 2000, consumer protection measures needed to be urgently reviewed.

The amendment bill states that products and services at present on offer and up-to-date posters of complaints procedures and dispute resolution mechanisms must be displayed at all offices as well as on the website, among others.

“All post offices must display the area manager’s contact details.”

Directional signage must be visible on main access routes within a 3km radius of all post offices.

According to the bill, customer service time should not exceed seven minutes for postal services.

If this time is exceeded there must be intervention measures in place to address the issues.

In line with easing accessibility for consumers, the post office must also implement an electronic system for payment of postal services.

The draft document said a post office must communicate with its customers in English and any other official language that is dominant in the area where the office is situated.

The bill calls for post offices to submit quarterly reports on received customer complaints to the authority.

The amendment also lists the specific procedures to be followed when a complaint is submitted by a consumer as well as the appropriate steps that must be followed once received.

A complainant may lodge a complaint with the authority if the outcome of the complaint is in dispute or if there has been inadequate or no response from the post office within the prescribed period.

“Upon resolution of the complaint, or after 14 days, whichever is sooner, the Postal Service Licensee must advise the customer of the right to escalate the matter to the authority should the customer dispute the outcome.”

Lewis said that there were a number of complaints or matters that required the attention of the authority within the postal services sector.

“It is therefore important that we undertake this process in order to ensure improved service levels, as well as to set turn-around times for complaints handling,” he said.

THE MERCURY

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