March 23, 2008
Copies of this electronic correspondence have been shared with Karen Shandrow (my wife and the passenger about which the call in question was made), Gary Bretz (RPTA), Karl Stephens (City of Tempe ADA Coordinator) and the readers of the Blind Access Journal.
I called your reservations center at approximately 10:30 this morning, March 23. After a couple of disconnected attempts, Donna picked up the line. Karen had just found out that they wanted people to leave a half hour earlier today for Easter. The purpose of my call was to find out what options may be available to have her picked up at 5:00 instead of 5:30 given the situation at hand.
Donna placed me on hold, came back and indicated there were no options for making this change. In accordance with past dealings with Donna (she’s relatively new and her attitude and competency are definitely on the low end of the scale), I asked to speak with the dispatcher. Failing that, I asked to speak with Donna’s supervisor. In both instances, Donna said she was unwilling to connect me with dispatch. When asking for a person who was in direct supervision of her activities today, she cold transferred me to the customer advocate’s voice mail. I called Donna back. She indicated that there were only two reservationists and one dispatcher in the office today. I asked Donna who was dispatching today and, after some hesitancy, she indicated it was Alecia. Since there was obviously nobody in charge of her today, I asked once again to communicate with dispatch, since that’s apparently the closest resource on hand to a manager. Donna refused once again by making the following statement:
“My job is not worth satisfying you”…
After this, I put the phone system to resourceful use by directly reaching Alecia. Alecia indicated to me that, in fact, she had not told Donna there were no options at all. Instead, she said she’d had trouble changing things with Pony Express in the past, that sometimes it resulted in no pickup at all and that she’d told Donna to schedule Karen for a 5:00 demand pickup on a regular Dial-A-Ride van. Of course, this makes sense, and it makes sense that the new reservation would be a demand trip in accordance with RPTA policies, but, no, Donna couldn’t be bothered to execute this part of her job at all.
There are four points below, each of which I expect to receive a clear answer:
1. Why is there no direct supervision of staff on evenings and weekends?
2. What is going to be done about the statement: “My job is not worth satisfying you”?
3. What are the consequences for a reservationist’s lying about the available options from dispatch and failing to complete the job?
4. Why would it be acceptable to cold transfer a customer to someone else, claiming it is a manager when it is just the customer advocate who is obviously off duty?
I anticipate an appropriate written response to this letter on the part of someone in a management capacity at RPTA and/or Veolia Transportation no later than the end of business on Wednesday, March 26. A telephone call is always welcome as well, so long as it is properly accompanied by the requested written response. The activities of Veolia’s employees are clearly at issue this time. A statement like “my job is not worth satisfying you” clearly speaks to an employee attitude that negatively impacts the quality of service Dial-A-Ride provides to its customers and, ultimately, to the taxpayers of the cities within its coverage area.
Best regards and happy Easter,
Darrell Shandrow – Accessibility Evangelist
While I never used dial-a-ride on weekends, I did experience many situations like this. This is exactly why I gave up using dial-a-ride through the ADA paratransit agency. There’s absolutely no accountability on the part of anyone. Several friends of mine, most of whom are not visually-impaired but do have other disabilities, have indicated to me that they’ve had problems too. One friend even told me that she experienced problems with another state’s paratransit service in addition to Illinois.
The people who are treating us badly simply want us to go away. Giving up plays into their hands. I don’t feel we should be letting the administrators and contractors of these services get away with treating us in this manner. Instead, we all should be demanding the accountability, professionalism and respect we deserve both as customers and taxpayers.