Deidre English Gosse, GUEST COLUMNIST
I write regarding the letter published on August 10, 2013 titled 'RGD is customer service from hell'.
The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is committed to providing the highest level of service and so I am deeply concerned that one of our customers was so dissatisfied. An investigation into the matter has been conducted and the dissatisfied customer was contacted. I can now report that the courier service that was contracted to deliver the customer's documents effected delivery on August 12, 2013.
Checks of the RGD's system that logs all aspects of customer interactions and tracks applications, revealed that the RGD did not meet its service standard in the sense that the application was not delivered to the customer within seven working days.
A further investigation will now be conducted into the reason why the contracted courier did not deliver the certificates at the stipulated time. I take this opportunity to once again apologise to the customer and affirm that arrangements have now been made to have the relevant amount refunded to the customer's account.
Additionally, it is important that I clarify some issues raised by the customer for her benefit and that of others who may apply for a birth certificate but will need to do a Late Entry of Name (LEN) application before the birth certificate can be printed.
The processing/delivery time of which the customer spoke is not related to her application for a birth certificate which was made on April 24, 2013, but to a Late Entry of Name (LEN) application that was paid for on June 18, 2013.
When the applicant applied on April 24, 2013, internal checks revealed that she did not have a surname on her birth record, which is the case for many persons born out of wedlock, especially before 1950. To correct this anomaly, such persons are required to submit an LEN application.
In this instance, an email advising the applicant of the need to have an LEN done to update her birth record with a surname was sent from the RGD on April 30, 2013. The customer called the RGD on May 2, 2013 and was also advised of this. However, she did not submit the recommended LEN application until June 18, 2013.
Owing to the growing incidence of identity theft, the RGD took the decision not to issue birth certificates without surnames. Please note that an application for a birth certificate is separate from that for an LEN; however, once an LEN is successful, a birth certificate is printed. The customer does not need to make a separate application for a birth certificate.
For authentication and identity verification purposes, customers must submit proof that they have been using the last name all their lives, and in addition to being screened and walked through the application and interview process, customers are provided with a comprehensive document checklist. These requirements are also detailed on our website (www.rgd.gov.jm).
Failure to complete forms
Our records show that the customer's three visits trying to submit her application were actually the result of her failure to complete the forms accurately and, on each occasion, she was assisted by a customer service representative. The RGD will only accept completed applications for processing.
I am disappointed that the author of the letter sees the submission of evidence as an inconvenience and not as an important step in maintaining the authenticity and integrity of our records.
In this customer's case, the application for the birth certificate was processed, which resulted in the identification of absence of a last name on the customer's record. As per the refund policy, the customer is entitled to a refund of the delivery fee and the service fee which, for the seven-day service, is $600.
Clause 9 of the RGD's refund policy states that "where a customer makes an incorrect application for a service and work has commenced and it has further been discovered that the request cannot be processed, the customer is entitled to a refund equivalent to the service fee".
Additionally, for record-updating applications which include LEN, the seven-day service commences after the interview is successfully completed - in this case, after June 24, 2013.
The manner in which the refund was handled, however, is not the norm, and raises the need for improvement in this area. Again, I sincerely apologise to the customer and her son for any inconvenience.
The RGD has been monitoring the level of customer satisfaction, and while our satisfaction rate has improved over the years, we are cognisant of the need for further improvement; ensuring that our processes are efficient and our customers are always satisfied.
Of relevance is the recognised need for a more reliable and timely system for the delivery of certificates to customers. As part of a strategic move towards this end, the agency began phasing out the contracted courier system on June 4, 2013. Customers living in Portmore, Kingston 6, 7, 11, 12, 19 and 20 no longer pay a delivery fee of J$100 and have the option of collecting their packages/ certificates at RGD's Portmore, Kingston or Twickenham Park offices.
I wish to thank the customer for doing business with us and for providing feedback on the level of service received.
Deirdre English Gosse is chief executive officer and deputy keeper of the records at the RGD. Email feedback to email@example.com.