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In Vietnam, gov’t hotlines aren’t always available 24 hours as they should be

In Vietnam, gov’t hotlines aren’t always available 24 hours as they should be

Saturday, January 03, 2015, 18:14 GMT+7

The hotlines of many government agencies in Vietnam did not work on Friday, one of the four days off many state employees are entitled to this week, even though the numbers should be available 24/7.  Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters made phone calls to the hotlines provided by many agencies to inform them of readers’ opinions but they received no answer from most of them. On January 2, the reporters called two hotlines (04) 3826 6344 and (04) 3936 1017 (landline numbers) publicized by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), but nobody answered their calls. The reporters then dialed two other hotline numbers, at 0974 899 702 and 0942 966 854 (mobile phone numbers), to no avail. In talking with Tuoi Tre later, an SBV official said the bank’s staff members are on duty on the hotlines only during business days, not on closing days or holidays. This week those government employees who have Saturday and Sunday as their usual days off are allowed to skip work on Friday to make a four-day holiday, beginning on New Year’s Day. These people will make up for the extra day off by working six days next week. On December 8, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Competition Management Department unveiled 1800.6838 as a free hotline for consumers to report their complaints. But yesterday when the Tuoi Tre reporters made a phone call, they were instructed to press some keys and later asked to wait while their calls were being transmitted to the telephonists. However, after waiting for a long time both in the morning and the afternoon, the reporters finally heard an automated instruction: “Please leave a message as the working hours are over” although it was just 11:00 am or 3:00 pm. In talking with the newspaper over the phone, Dang Phuong Nam, deputy head of the department, said departmental employees take charge of the hotline only on business days, not during holidays. Meanwhile, callers are charged VND2,000 (US$0,09) per minute when they dial the hotline 1900.585826 set by the Market Management Department under the same ministry to receive information related to food safety. After calling the phone number, callers will hear some automated voice introducing the line and from that moment, they will be charged while being instructed to press some keys to be put through to the persons in charge. On Friday, Tuoi Tre reporters made a phone call to this line and after following instructions – and being charged – they could not meet anyone, just receiving a pre-recorded reply: “All the lines are now engaged. Please call again later.”

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