Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Irate drivers can vent online




By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Those with traffic gripes in Southwest Ohio have a new tool — the Internet.

        The regional Ohio Department of Transportation office is teaming with PlanetFeedback.com, a Cincinnati-based company, to allow people with traffic or construction concerns to send their comments directly to those responsible.

        “Our goal is simple: to make it easier and more convenient for our customers to contact us and let us know how we're doing,” said Mike Flynn, deputy director of ODOT's District 8 office.

        “Since so many of our customers have access to the Internet, we want to encourage them to use their computers to review and evaluate us.”

        The new arrangement is for Lebanon-based District 8, which covers Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Clinton, Greene and Preble counties. The Web site, www.PlanetFeedback.com/odot, went online Monday.

        Mr. Flynn said the new program will allow users to rate ODOT on 11 different categories, including construction and engineering, snow removal, lighting, signs and litter pickup. The site allows for comments, suggestions, compliments and complaints.

        ODOT is responsible for the maintenance and construction of Ohio's interstate highways, plus state routes and U.S. highways not within city limits.

        ODOT officials said they are paying PlanetFeedback.com $20,000 for setting up the site and forwarding the comments. The contract expires in June, with subsequent contracts contingent upon the success of the program. If renewed, the contracts are expected to cost less because most of the work creating the site is already done.

        PlanetFeedback.com, which provides Web users the opportunity to sound off on a variety of products and services and forwards the comments to the appropriate companies, went online in February 2000.

        Chief executive officer Pete Blackshaw said the partnership with ODOT fits perfectly with the company's definition of a “feedback moment,” or a time when a consumer is fed up enough to speak his mind.

        “When the orange barrels bloom in the spring or winter storms arrive, consumers experience lots of "feedback moments' on the road,” Mr. Blackshaw said.

       



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