Tue, Sep 02, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Critics say ETC poll questions designed to favor operator

By Huang Li-hsiang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Widespread dissatisfaction with customer service for the electronic toll collection (ETC) system was revealed by a Ministry of Transportation and Communication poll, while 55 percent said they were unhappy with services rendered by the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC).

The ministry’s National Freeway Bureau in June conducted a telephone poll, receiving valid responses from 2,199 people. The questions focused on payment methods, structure and collection polices, as well as satisfaction with services rendered.

The survey showed that 71.5 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with customer service for the ETC system, with more than half of those people saying that FETC staff lacked the knowledge needed to solve problems.

Those dissatisfied with the customer service indicated that the company should focus on making eTag account activity clear and precise, and provide a receipt for all payments, adding that the FETC should also increase the number of its branches.

Out of 28 poll questions, the bureau last month released the results for only one question, about the company’s distance-traveled pricing policy versus a standard pricing scheme.

The results showed that 38.4 percent were in favor of canceling the new distance-based policy, while 29.7 percent wanted to keep it, but see fees reduced.

The distance policy allows 20km of free travel on freeways per day and charges NT$1.2 per kilometer thereafter.

Critics said the results of the poll were inconclusive because only one metric was announced, allowing the bureau to portray the company’s policies in a positive light, and that most of the questions in the survey were designed to elicit particular responses.

Feng Chia University Department of Transportation Technology and Management associate professor Lee Ker-tsung (李克聰) said the questions were written to “sell” company policy, adding that the results were not analyzed against travel-distance data from the nation’s freeways.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the questionnaire showed a lack effort by the company to promote its products, as more than 40 percent of drivers did not have a clear idea on the free-travel distance.

Half of the respondents said they did not know there is a 35 percent discount for total travel exceeding 200km in a day, Tsai said, adding that 54 percent did not know that there was a 35 percent discount for travel on consecutive holidays.

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