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Sudbury looks to deal with chronic complainers tying up city resources

Officials in Greater Sudbury are looking for ways to deal with a small number of chronic complainers that are taking up a large amount of city staff time.

Councillors will hear an outline of vexatious complaints policy at their meeting Oct. 10, aimed at preventing chronic complainers from compromising customer service standards.

Repeated, unreasonable complaints can have significant resource implications for the organization, which may compromise the city’s ability to deliver excellent customer service,” the report said.

“For this reason, many municipalities have adopted formal policies for dealing with unreasonable, frivolous or vexatious complaints. The goal of the policy is to provide better customer service by reducing the resources spent dealing with unreasonable requests for which a state of customer satisfaction is unattainable or unrealistic.”

The report said municipalities who have adopted a similar policy have “indicated positive impacts to staff morale, which indirectly improves customer service.”

If approved, the policy would only come into effect as a last resort when other attempts to deal with the resident have failed.

Examples of vexatious complaints in the proposed policy include:

  • Refusing to accept that an issue falls outside of the scope of the city’s jurisdiction;
  • Refusing to cooperate with the investigation process while still wanting the complaint to be resolved;
  • Making unjustified or falsified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues;
  • Covertly recording meetings and conversations;
  • Repeated hostile behaviours or lengthy contacts through phone calls, emails, detailed letters or social media that impede the city’s ability to provide effective service or are intended to harm, embarrass or slander the city or city staff.

Read the proposed policy here.

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