Thursday, February 22

This miserable excuse for a pic, is of sunup this morning. I seem to get much better results in the evenings, facing the West. I do dislike the spoiler effect of the ugly power poles, but I suppose my lifetime wont see then banished, though I have lived in suburbs with underground wiring.

I once worked for a company who made those porcelain insulators, for the power poles, so I guess they keep people employed.

It is a very humid day here today, the sky has become weighted looking with clouds, but I am sure they wont yield any rain, just more humidity.

I went shopping with DJ this morning, & we had a very pleasant time. SIL had SG, so we could take our time, & have a good few laughs. Quite a bit of time was spent at the pet shop windows, feeling very sorry for the little puppies being kept captive behind the glass. And we cant help wondering what happens to the little things if no one buys them, & they get past the 'sweet puppy' stage. Most of them were the little 'designer dogs' & though I suppose ours are also in that range, we didnt get ours from Pet stores.

I also got some ink for my printer, & have now printed out, & posted, a letter of complaint. I wont go into the details of the complaint, but it was over some really rude behaviour, in customer service, which really upset me, so I decided to do something positive instead of just seething quietly, or bemoaning the fact to others.

When we first both became retirees, we had endless hassles with the CES, which over here is the Commonwealth Employment Service. The CES handles people's pensions, sickness benefits, child allowances, age pensions or what ever the current PC term is for payments. We had endless rounds of phonecalls, letters telling us one thing, only to be contradicted next time around! Then we got letters demanding we 'repay' monies we owed them!

That really was the final straw, after months of trying to get things straightened out, & many many hours spent on the telephone, to no avail. And each time they would give you a call receipt number, which more or less meant nothing! In the end we managed to get an appointment to see 'someone'. Who was a small girl, with a little twitchy rear, that flicked around like a bullwhip, every time she walked. And "O Grandpa what big eyes you have!" when she greeted the men.

After we had patiently explained all our woes, & the fact we felt we were in fact owed more than we had been paid, & re-producing all items in triplicate, such as birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, not to mention other demanded mails & documents, we were told she would have to re photocopy all these documents.

So we waited patiently, only to be told on her return that we would not, in fact, be getting paid the monies we were still owed.

Upon enquiring why, we got told we hadnt 'complained about it in time'. So we asked how could we complain when we didnt know we had been underpaid. We got no statements telling us what our entitlements were, & we had no knowledge of how our payments were in fact calculated.

So, off twitched the little whip again, only to twitch back & declare we would not be getting paid. On further request for a reason we were told- & this took our breath away- "Because".

So I demanded a complaint sheet, which took a long time to be unearthed, & handed over to us. We were told we couldnt be allocated any further time today, for further consultation, so off we went. Seething. Inwardly.

And I filled it all in, & accompanied it with a very detailed letter, containing all our queries, & complaints. And I listed all the call number receipts & other data I had been fed over the phone.

This all took about six months. One day I burst into tears on the phone, I was just so fed up. It was like some horror movie, from which there was no return.

Eventually we did get our money, & we did get an apology.

Some months later I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in taking part in a forum to discuss the shortcomings of the way we were dealt with. I laughed hysterically, & told them I was the last person to consult! No, no, they assured me, they wanted people who had been disgruntled, they welcomed criticism to determine how they could improve. They would pay me for my time, & I would be given lunch, & transport monies. And no it would not be docked from my allowance.

I went to the forum, I took part, I voiced my concerns & told my story. But I felt quite ashamed, as my story paled into nothing with some of the other stories. A man whose wife was diagnosed with cancer, who could not even be given a carers pension, as she lay dying, so he could take care of her, & look after their children. A woman who was paid $5,000 & told it was hers to go & spend it, & enjoy it. She repeatedly asked if it was really hers. Finally after 4 months, of assurances it was absolutely hers, she spent a little of it. Then she got the bill for it. It had been wrongfully paid out to her.

There were so many stories that just took my breath away. I was in tears with one man as he told his tearful story. How could a cold 'department' do this to ordinary decent people? Why is there no allowance for 'circumstances'. And, seemingly no allowance made for 'humanity'. Bureaucracy gone mad.

I dont suppose much has changed. We havent had cause to have any further direct dealings with CES. Our payments go into our account, & we just take note of the payments. And keep our fingers crossed.


Tracey Petersen said...

This is what can happen when we forget that we are people, not just numbers. It is impossible to create a 'system' that can possibly account for the many variations and personalities of humanity.
Good for you for standing your ground. Sometimes it is exhausting to fight for what is just.

Stomper Girl said...

Well done for fighting your corner. And sometimes crying is what it takes for people to treat you properly. I did it once after a botched car service when the apprentice they'd assigned to look after it basically insinuated that I was wasting his pimply-faced time. I stormed into the manager with my belly out front and tears pouring down my face, saying "I'm 9 months pregnant, I don't need to be talked to like this". The manager just about fell on his knees and grovelled. And they ended up driving to our house the next day to personally collect the car for repairs and dropping it back that same day.

joyce said...

Buracracy can drive you crazy if you let it. Our DIL is Japanese and the stories they have on trying to get family allowance (they needed the mother's Social Insurance number, never mind that she didn't have one) or getting her landed immigrant status, would fill a book. No one would want to read it though.

Aunty Evil said...


We are all expected to be text book cases. When one of us steps outside of that classification, the monkey trained personnel don't know what to do.

I remember working with a man who's wife was dying of cancer. He had her at home. The drugs she needed to take to give her a better quality of life whilst dying cost him $700 a week. Because he was still working. He didn't even earn $700 a week. He discovered that by leaving work and going on the dole, he could get the drugs for nothing. So that's what he did. He didn't want to, work gave him a release, a break.

There are no exceptions to the rules, as far as the rules are concerned. It is very unfair. And for those outside of the rules, very sad.