26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Hotline provider fined for poor results

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The United Kingdom Passport Office has fined Teleperformance, the company which provides its customer-service hotline, because of poor results.

The Office’s Director of Passports, Citizenship and Civil Registration, Thomas Greig told Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee the fine was due to Teleperformance’s level of service “dipping to a really low level” earlier this year amid a row over passport processing delays.

Mr Greig (pictured) said he could not specify exactly how much the supplier had been forced to pay, but admitted it was “in the high hundreds of thousands”.

Passport applications rocketed after COVID-19 pandemic rules were relaxed, leaving the Passport Office and Teleperformance struggling to cope and leading to a backlog of more than 500,000 cases at the end of June.

Teleperformance runs a customer phone line for the Passport Office, along with an out-of-hours line for some Ministry of Justice services, under a five-year contract worth £22.8 million ($A39.6 million).

In April, Minister for the Home Office, Kevin Foster described the quality of the company’s service as unacceptable, following complaints from the public to MPs about being unable to get through to the line or being provided with inaccurate information.

Asked why the supplier’s service had been so poor, Mr Greig said the performance on the phone line fluctuated depending on demand, but had recently improved after Teleperformance brought in 800 new staff.

“We’ve had serious and honest conversations with Teleperformance. It did dip to a really low level,” the Director said.

He said further improvements were needed in the service.

“They need to get better at answering the phone and we also need to make sure the advice when they answer the phone is better and that what happens to people when they pass through the process is better,” Mr Greig said.

“I’m not in denial on the issues.”

London, 26 July 2022

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