Sunday, July 15, 2007

The City of Richmond: A Model of Inefficiency Yet Again

My husband and I had some electrical work done on our home in Churchill before we moved into our temporary housing, and our renters moved in. We acquired our permit, like good renovators, had the work done, and called for an inspection. I have to admit, the calling for the inspection bit wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend my lunch hour. I'll share this experience with you, in hopes that you will know what to expect shall you every find yourself in the same position.

I called the number of our inspector that is listed on our permit, Eugene. After leaving Eugene a message and not receiving a call back, 5 days later I called him again. His voicemail box was now full. I called again the next day. Still full. Silly me, why would I think it would be a good idea to call the inspector himself.

I then called the general number for the department of public works. After following the prompts, I reached a city employee. I was unaware that there is an automatic system to schedule an inspection, the employee is unable to help me. She transferred me to the system. Said system informed me that I needed a 3 digit code that is not on my permit which states the type of work done. I requested that the system transfer me to a real person. The same employee gave me the three digit code, told me there was nothing else she could do for me and then transferred me back to the automated system. After listening to the prompts and getting to the end, almost ready to set an appointment, the automatic man told me the system was disabled, and transferred me to the same employee. Now, she could help me, but only because she had to.

Employee: "When would you like to set up an appointment, the inspectors are running three days behind."
Me: "Well, I'd like to set it up for Friday, but does that mean they won't be there until Wednesday?"
E: "Yes it does. I can set it up for tomorrow for you, and they might make it by Monday."
M: "Alrighty, tomorrow it is."
E: "The inspector will call you in the morning if he's not able to make it that day."
M: "OK. So will he set up another appointment with us when he calls?"
E: "No."
M: "Well, should I call you and set up another appointment through you?"
E: "No."
M: "So I guess he'll just call us on the day he will be able to make it?"
E: "Nope, he sure won't."
M: "Well what if we're not there when he comes by?"
E: "He'll leave a note for you to call in and set another appointment."
M: "Wow. Really? I mean, I know this isn't your decision to make, but don't you think that's a pretty inefficient way for them to go about this process?"
E: "Yeah, I guess so."
(Had a chuckle with the employee.)
M: "Would you mind taking my husbands phone number and asking the inspector to call his number instead of mine, he's able to take phone calls during the day and I'm not."
E: "I'll write it down for you, but I can't promise that I'll be able to remember to do it."
M: "Well, I appreciate your honesty. What's your name? I'm sure I'll be talking to you again soon!"
E: "I'm Charlotte. Have a nice day."
M: "You too, thanks for your help!"

A city employee did call my husband the next day and told him he wouldn't be coming by. Tomorrow is Monday, I'll be waiting with abated breathe to see if the inspector makes it!

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