20 October 2014

Capita - too busy to cope (self inflicted)

which illiterate person put an apostrophe after Magistrates?
As readers will know the collection of Council Tax has been handed over to Capita. They have promised to improve the collection rates which were actually pretty good before they even got involved. The way in which they are going to do this is pretty blunt, rather than giving any leeway they will simply hit every transgressor with a big stick (metaphorically, that is). It is a strange situation as if Mr Mustard is confronted by a debtor without the means to pay, when in his alter ego's debt collection job, he is required to accept reasonable instalments. Not so the council or their henchmen at Capita.

There are two particular points which worry Mr Mustard about the above.

The first is the lack of a private room in which to discuss your financial affairs. This is odd as the Court's own website says that there are interview room facilities but perhaps only legally qualified representatives are entitled to use them and Capita probably use cheapjack unqualified employees who thus don't have the right? (Mr Mustard is surmising so do please put him right if he is wide of the mark). Being forced to discuss your financial affairs in public strikes Mr Mustard as a situation which could easily breach the Data Protection Act and even if it doesn't every criminal (con artists included) wandering about the Magistrates Court should not be able to hear the details of your financial woes. What if the reason you can't pay is that you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and you have to tell the council's Capita representative that in order to get them off your back when you have decided not to tell anyone other than your immediate partner?

The second concern is that Capita can't cope. This is clear from the final paragraph in red. If the Capita call centre isn't going to be able to cope then it should be enhanced so it can cope or the spread of summonses should be over a longer period. Here we have the tail wagging the dog. Are KPI being failed or are unanswered calls mysteriously not showing up in the KPI statistics?

The council have, of course, had two lots of phone troubles that they have tweeted about recently. Councillors are having email trouble so although they want to help you they can't if they don't receive your message.

What will happen is that someone, who has a life and other things to do, will phone and fail to get through, their email won't be handled in time and despite paying off in full they will get hit with a Liability Order for the costs of enforcement and then the dogs (otherwise known as Equita, the Capita owned bailiff) will be instructed.

So Capita's inability to cope turns into court approved extra debt which goes to Capita's own bailiff and they make lots of fees. Trebles all round as they say in Private Eye.

Did the cabinet councillors who so ardently supported the award of the contract to Capita get into this sort of detail? None of them will admit to having read the Contract in its entirety, and some not even at all, so it seems unlikely. Please bombard Conservative councillors with complaints about Capita in order that they start to realise what they have done. If you have a Labour councillor, or the sole Lib-Dem Jack Cohen you don't need to tell them what is wrong with the contract as they know and where powerless to stop it, just ask for help with your situation.

One day the Crapita nightmare will stop.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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