According to ’60 million consumers’, too many phone calls to public services are unsuccessful


Public services are often unreachable by telephone by users seeking information, according to a survey by the magazine 60 million consumers posted Thursday, January 26. “Unfortunately, people who are not comfortable with the Internet have a hard time accessing even information about their rights”deplored to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the 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 Rights, 1,532 calls were made between September 26 and November 10, 2022 by testers representing three types of users needing telephone contact for inquiries or procedures – a person without Internet, another with Internet but not fluent in French, an elderly person with Internet – as well as by a lambda caller to reveal any differences in treatment.


The dunce cap goes to Medicare. Out of 302 calls made to find out about the formalities for obtaining or renewing a Vitale card, 72% were unsuccessful. When you pick up, only 22% of calls received a “acceptable answer” and less than 5% of “accurate answers”. Medicare 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.

At the Family Allowance Fund (CAF), 54% of the 408 calls rang empty. 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.

Read also: Telephone canvassing will be prohibited on weekends and public holidays from March 2023

Pôle emploi does a little well with 84% of calls having succeeded, with however answers not always satisfactory or lacking in precision. As for the Pension Insurance Fund, 72% of the phone calls were successful but, once again, the answers on the possible age of retirement were not relevant in the vast majority of cases.


“The solutions exist but they are very rarely offered, which plunges users into disarray and can go as far as the waiver of their rights”, notes Lionel Maugain. As the dematerialization of public services accelerates, 60 million consumers demands, with the Defender of Rights, a law imposing several modes of access, in particular by 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.

The World with AFP

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