Councillor Josh Matlow

680 News: Auditor General gives 311 customer service a poor grade

November 16, 2011

The city’s Auditor General is giving Toronto’s 311 help line a poor grade when it comes to customer service.

A report going to committee next Wednesday finds that about 21-thousand calls a month never get answered.

The help line gets about 50 calls a day on topics such as garbage not getting picked up, graffiti or problems with the city’s water, however, the report found that one in five of those calls go unanswered.

Councillor Josh Matlow told 680News it is not just residents who are hanging up.

“Even city councillors will often have to wait hours,” he said. “They’re finding that it’s easier to order a pizza than to get a basic service out of 311.”

Matlow said that this is unacceptable.

“311 was designed to be all about customer service and if that’s not working we have to do something about it now.”

The problem, according to the Auditor General, is high absenteeism among the staff hired to take the calls. He said they need to become a more efficient public service.

Matlow said a solution to the problem may be reorganization.

“One option is moving staff who may not be needed, or redundant, in other departments, over to 311.”

The city said the call centre will hire 15 part-time staff by the end of March to help solve the problem.

The 311 help line has been in service for two years and costs the city $15-million a year to run.

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