Apology to callers

Sorry to all telephone callers who are currently experiencing difficulties in trying to get through to Merton Council. This is due to an unprecedented number of people attempting to call the council following the dispatch of council tax demands bills to over 80,000 households in the borough.

Customers calling the council are hearing engaged tones or waiting for lengthy periods of time to connect with an operative. Currently demand is at a rate of over 300 calls every 15 minutes. The situation should improve in the very near future, and in the meantime staff will continue to deal with as many telephone calls as they can, as quickly as they can.

The dispatch of the annual council tax demands were staggered over seven working days but it is a legal duty for the council to ensure residents receive them at least 14 days before the first payment is due. Therefore there is limited opportunity to spread the dispatch.

To avoid delays with non-urgent enquiries residents are encouraged to use an alternative method of contacting the council:
– Visit Merton Link in person between 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Friday
– Visit http://www.merton.gov.uk for information on council services, general information and to report problems
– Contact the council by e-mail or post
– Answers to the top ten frequently asked council taxed questions can also be accessed via the internet http://www.merton.gov.uk/council/counciltax/ctaxquestion.htm
– If the query can wait call back at a later date when the current demand of calls is expected to fall.

A ‘call-back’ system has been introduced where basic details are taken at peak times and staff are working late to call back customers at quieter times. As a direct result of the measures taken the situation has improved considerably.

Sean Cunniffe, Merton Link Manager, said: “Sorry to all callers who have experience problems contacting the council. I understand how frustrating it is when you can’t get through. We expect the demand the fall during the next week and appreciate residents’ patience in the meantime.

Staff are working extremely hard to ensure callers are able to get through as quickly as possible. Despite putting in place measures to and planning for the expected increase in demand it was greater than anticipated and further urgent action was taken to alleviate the pressures.”

For further information visit http://www.merton.gov.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The Ten most frequently asked questions are:
1. Why has my bill gone up?
Council tax is a tax on property that finances pa