Sat | Oct 20, 2018

JUTC driving customers away

Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM


On Saturday, July 26, 2014, I had a bad experience at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) East Parade office. Customer service was lacking, and the customer service representative (CSR) appeared to be devoid of any training and experience in customer service.

Not prepared to shrug it off as just a bad experience, I immediately emailed the deputy managing director (MD) of the JUTC to provide feedback. In my communique, I posited, "Effective CSRs are generally results oriented, customer-focused individuals with an attitude of 'If I don't know, I will find out for you'. Oftentimes, it's experience over time fine-tuned to various organisations' norms by training from the organisations' training and development departments."

With that said, the deputy MD responded quickly, and on Sunday, July 27, 2014, he proffered a response.

He said, "Thank you for taking the time to write to us of the experience you have had. Your experience outlined could have been far better and we will do what is necessary to improve same. We are very focused on training and customer service and staff development that we have implemented a new structure in downtown Kingston geared towards improving some of the services to our customers."

On Friday, October 3, 2014, I again wrote to the deputy MD. The email read, "On/or about September 30, my seven-year-old son J ... and I took the 83 about a half-mile from Deanery Avenue to Hildene Avenue. I was told that for concession, a card for J... was needed. I went to get the card. It is with disappointment that I revisited your office at Parade. The lines were extraordinarily long and the office had run out of forms. I left."

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, I wrote again. I said, "Today, the 77 driver demanded $120 for J...'s fare! Really! J... is 7! A child! It's clear from his size!" In fairness, however to the deputy MD, he offered, "If you can give me the details of your seven-year-old son, I can have the card created for you to pick up at our East Parade office in downtown." I asked for pick up at Half-Way Tree, stating, "I don't want to revisit East Parade. I've had my fill of them!"

I got another apology. It said, "I do apologise for the inconvenience you experienced in not being able to get your card for your son. Based on feedback from the location, they have the forms and should be able to assist you. In light of the recent rules put in place, the JUTC drivers have no control and are only enforcing the methods employed for passengers to access the concession fare, which is through the Smarter Card." Really?!!! Where is the customer service component? Is it that only ridership and revenue matters?

This brings me to another point. An older son, now 17, attends a tertiary institution. His JUTC bus card had the concession embedded into the programming. Despite the deputy managing director's utterance in writing that his fare is $30 until his 20th birthday, while in uniform, the concession was removed from the card. He wears the tertiary institution's uniform with its name conspicuously displayed on the shirt! Since the CSR dispassionately removed the concession, he has begun to walk home. Thank you, JUTC!

In the final analysis, I chided the deputy MD and raised the following questions: "Tell me something: Is management going to intervene and apologise each time a concerned customer has a problem? Is the JUTC's primary focus about revenue or customer service? If customer service is great, it follows that revenue would increase, doesn't it? Today, your driver, under instructions, enforced the rule and drove us away. How many have been driven away?


Kingston 5