Caller to NCC: ‘Get rid of my neighbour’

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“Help me evict my neighbour, I don’t like them.”

That’s one of the many weird requests put to Nelson City Council call centre staff over the past year.

Each month, the council receives an average of 4600 calls and 900 emails from local residents.

As expected there are plenty of building consent enquiries, questions about permits and people making noise complaints.

Along with the usual requests come some very strange ones too.

“I had one lady wanting us to remove a dead mouse from her compost heap as the council should be responsible for mice,” says a council call centre staff member.

Others have included a lady wanting the council to clean her garden because it had been flooded and got a bit muddy, while one man phoned the council to find out if they had a register for dead cats found on the side of the road.

“Sadly, this gentleman’s cat was missing,” says the staffer who took the call.

Just last week, the council had a call from a man wanting to know why someone was dumping rubbish in his rubbish bin and one staffer had a call asking what the quickest way to get a divorce was.

The council’s communications manager Paul Shattock says the council also receive various emails meant for Nelson in Canada, a city home to around 10,000 people.

The customer service team is made up of 15 full and part time staff which perform a mix of duties including front of house, contact centre and online enquiries.  Generally there are four staff taking phone calls with three months training under their belt.

Paul says when dealing with rude customers the staff remain calm and don’t take it personally.

“We know that everyone has more things going on in their life more than people can immediately see on the surface.  Nelson people are really pretty awesome and it’s important to keep that in front of mind,” he says. “We have a really close partnership with Citizens advice, and sometimes we refer questions to them, but we do really try to find the answer or refer to the right agency.”