Caf, health insurance… public services often unreachable on the phone, denounces “60 million consumers”

Long tones… and nothing. Like health insurancepublic services are often absent subscribers for users in search of information but poorly mastering the Internet, according to a survey by the magazine “60 million consumers” released Thursday.

“Unfortunately, people who are not comfortable with the Internet have a lot of difficulty accessing even information on their rights”, deplores journalist Lionel Maugain, co-author of the survey, citing in particular the elderly, precarious or foreigners.

As part of this survey conducted with the Defender of Rights1,532 calls were made, between September 26 and November 10, 2022, by callers representing three types of users needing telephone contact for inquiries or formalities (one person without Internet, another having Internet but not fluent in French, an elderly person with Internet), as well as by an “ordinary” caller to check for any differences in treatment.

Donkey cap for health insurance

The dunce’s cap goes to Health Insurance. Of 302 calls made to find out about the formalities for obtaining or renewing a vital card, 72% were unsuccessful – three unsuccessful attempts each with a five-minute wait.

When it picks up, only 22% of calls received “an acceptable answer”, and less than 5% of “accurate answers”. Health Insurance argued in the magazine that calls received have more than doubled since the fall of 2019, to 3.2 million per month, and that it is struggling to recruit advisers for its telephone platforms.

Uses that renounce their rights

At the Family Allowance Fund (Caf), 54% of the 408 calls had no one on the phone. Here too, when someone answers, the answers are insufficient or refer to… the Internet. Only a minority of agents offer an appointment at the counter or the sending of a paper file to the home. “Solutions exist but they are very rarely offered, which plunges users into disarray and can go so far as the renunciation of their rights”, notes Lionel Maugain.

Pôle emploi does a little well with 84% of calls having succeeded, with however answers not always satisfactory or lacking in precision.

Little progress since 2016

As for the Pension Insurance Fund, 72% of the phone calls were successful but once again, the answers on the possible retirement age were not relevant in the vast majority of cases.

As it accelerates the dematerialization of public services, “60 million consumers” calls, with the Defender of Rights, for a law imposing several modes of access, in particular via the establishment of a local counter bringing together a representative of each organization. The results of this survey show little progress compared to the one conducted in 2016, except that calls are no longer overcharged and there is no longer any significant discrimination linked to the origin of users.

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