Social. CAF, Secu … On the phone, public services often absent subscribers


Complicated for you to join Pôle Emploi, Health Insurance or the Family Allowance Fund (CAF)? Indeed, public services are often unreachable by telephone by users looking for information, shows a survey by the magazine 60 million consumers released Thursday.

“Unfortunately, people who are not comfortable with the Internet have great difficulty accessing even information on their rights,” lamented journalist Lionel Maugain, co-author of the survey, quoting especially the elderly, precarious or foreigners.

As part of this investigation conducted with the Defender of Rights, 1,532 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 with internet but not proficient in French, an elderly person with internet), as well as by an “ordinary” caller to check for any differences in treatment.

And the results are alarming, assures the Defender of Rights in a press release sent Thursday:

Of the 1,500 calls made as part of the survey, 40% were unsuccessful, with significant disparities between the four organizations. The average waiting time to obtain an interlocutor is more than 9 minutes

The Defender of Rights

At Social Security, 72% of calls are unsuccessful

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.


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.

“It plunges users into disarray”

“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 the 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 retirement age were not relevant in the vast majority of cases.

Provide dematerialized solutions

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 via the establishment of a local counter bringing together a representative of each organization. They also ask that a hard copy be sent for any notification of attribution, cancellation or revision of rights, indicating the deadlines and the means of appeal.

Indeed, as the magazine reminds us, 15% of French people do not have access to the Internet and 28% are not able to carry out an administrative procedure online.

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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