The DWP’s Meaningless Customer Charter

On Wednesday I was at the Job Centre for my weekly visit. They saw me thirty-five minutes late, which I found rather bothersome since I remember the time the twenty minute bus ride in took a whole hour and made me five minutes late for my appointment, which lead to them saying “You can’t show up late and expect us still to see you!” While I was waiting to be seen, I looked at the Customer Charter on the wall, which is something that’s been written up by the Department of Work and Pensions to show how much they care about their customers. In my experience, the things listed on that charter are not really taken very seriously by the staff. Let’s go over it.

1. Right Treatment
This was their promise that they would treat all customers well; have respect for them and listen to them. Which seems strange, because I’d hardly call derogatory comments about a person’s intelligence and race (!) once they are out of earshot very respectful. Plus, you’d have a hard time finding somebody who regularly visits the Job Centre who will tell you that their Job Coach really listens to them (like when I was asked “what’s your name again?” after seeing that job coach for months, and when my name was clearly displayed on the computer screen!)

2. Keeping You Informed
After all, the Department of Work and Pensions is handling your money; money you need for food and shelter, so of course they have to keep you up to date on any news of delays or stops to payments! But I guess this doesn’t apply to everything right? That’s why I’ve seen them intentionally choose to lie or withhold information from customers in order to avoid uncomfortable situations! I guess, going back to point number 1, lying and deceiving is, of couse, what they consider the ‘right treatment’ for the unemployed.

3. Easy Access
A job coach always gives their customers an email address and a phone number which they can use to contact them. However, they don’t usually answer their phones, or reply to their emails. So, if you ever need to reschedule an appointment, you’re going to have a very hard time! You probably won’t actually be able to just because it is so hard to get in touch, and then they’ll just sanction you.

4. Getting it Right
I wondered why exactly this was on the Customer Charter because this one basically just means “If we cut you off, we were right to do so” and, as I’m sure most people already know, it’s not hard to find cases where they were clearly wrong. But I guess “Getting It Right” sounds nicer than “Do Not Question Us”.

So, yes, it’s not hard to think of examples right off the top of my head where I’ve seen job coaches break all of these rules, which is really rather dreadful and a clear sign that these things need to change.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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