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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — AAFES officials in South Korea are surveying customers on the quality of service they’re getting from SSRT, a company under fire for the Internet and phone service it provides to U.S. military installations on the peninsula.

Earlier this month, several customers told Stars and Stripes that SSRT — Samsung Rental Corp. Ltd. — provides poor service and charges excessive prices, accusations the company has denied.

In addition, the company’s president faces South Korean charges that he bribed Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials so SSRT would be the firm holding the contract. SSRT’s contract with AAFES runs until 2019.

Each AAFES general manager in South Korea had been tasked to “try to improve the service of SSRT,” said George B. Ricker, AAFES general manager for Area III in Pyeongtaek. Gathering customer feedback is the key toward that goal, he said.

The steps include using a questionnaire that asks customers to rate SSRT’s service staff, Ricker said.

SSRT itself periodically surveys its customers, said Justin Ryu, business administration division manager for the company.

For example, Ryu said Friday, the company conducted a five-question survey Jan. 18-24 asking customers to rate the service staff’s performance. The company e-mailed the questionnaire to its Osan Air Base customers. At other installations, it has asked customers to fill out the questionnaire in SSRT shops, Ryu said.

Ricker said AAFES officials at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul distributed a questionnaire aimed at helping AAFES get a better feel for what customers think of the service.

He said that questionnaire or a similar one will be distributed in the Pyeongtaek area early next month.

AAFES officials think their questionnaire will yield more insight than past SSRT customer surveys, Ricker said, because the AAFES survey solicits “a lot more information” than the current SSRT survey.

And, he said, in February AAFES will begin “Meet the Manager,” twice-monthly meetings in Pyeongtaek to let SSRT customers comment in person to company representatives. Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys are in Pyeongtaek.

In the Pyeongtaek region, AAFES officials sat down with SSRT to review feedback from customers for all of 2006, Ricker said.

“The area they had the most opportunity to improve and do so quickly was in customer service … both in improving English ability of their associates and in service overall,” he said.

“The feedback we saw wasn’t wholly negative, just that they had the opportunity to improve,” he said.

Earlier this month, Stars and Stripes reported that SSRT President Jeong Gi-hwan awaits trial in a South Korean court on accusations he paid thousands of dollars in bribes to AAFES officials Clifton W. Choy and H. Lee Holloway so SSRT could hold the lucrative contract with AAFES.

Jeong’s lawyers have said he is innocent. Choy and Holloway declined to discuss the case when contacted recently by Stars and Stripes.

The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations has said it is in the final stage of an investigation into the bribery allegations.

In a Jan. 21 article, Stars and Stripes quoted a senior official at AAFES’ Dallas headquarters as saying AAFES stands ready to take decisive measures should the bribery allegations prove founded.

Survey asks

The following questions are on a questionnaire handed out at the Yongsan Garrison AAFES store last week:

Do you consider SSRT reliable?

How do you rate the English ability of SSRT’s representatives?

How do you rate SSRT’s representatives’ professionalism?

How do you rate the speed of SSRT’s representatives’ feedback?

How do you rate SSRT’s representatives?

How often does your Internet go down?

Have you had Internet service at another location?

How does that compare to what you are paying now?

Are you aware of the SSRT Customer Call Center for problem resolution?

Do you use VoIP?

Do you video stream?

Do you play online games requiring multiple players?

— Stars and Stripes

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