Strange Apple's Blog

I won! (and I ramble about it)

Posted on: January 26, 2011

That issue my eldest son was having with a government department?

I tried the usual avenues to have the problem resolved, was treated quite atrociously by the Call Centre operator, attended an office (better treatment) but still found that no one was willing to listen to my requests for the matter to be looked into (it was a fairly obvious administrative error – at least, I thought so, it was obvious to me).

I wrote a letter to Chief Executive. I kept all emotion and complaints about staff out of it, just the facts m’am. I ended the letter stating that I had sought legal advice, and that if a positive response was not received within 7 days that we would pursue the matter through the courts, and upon successful appeal we would also claim costs against the department. Then I had my Mum fax the letter through to the Chief Executive from her home fax, because I didn’t want the work header to appear on it (showing the government department and section that I work for).

Just over 24 hours later, I received an apologetic phone call, advising me that the error had been corrected. Funny that.

The unusual part of this is that the letter did not have my phone number on it. The Manager who dealt with the complaint recognised my name as an employee of the same government department, and rang me on my work number. Yes, that’s right, the department that was about to screw over my 18 year old son is the one that I work for!

The Manager asked me why I didn’t just ring him about that matter, rather than complain to the CE. I said that I was acting as a member of the public, I tried the avenues that members of the public have and I’d received an unsatisfactory response. The Contact Centre operator wouldn’t put me through to the section that made the error, her team leader refused to speak to me, the branch I attended rang his section and was told in no uncertain terms that there was no error, so as a member of the public I felt that the only option available was to write a complaint to the CE. He said “didn’t you tell them who you were?” – uh, no, I didn’t. I did not want there to be any potential conflict of interest, did not want anyone to feel that I was using my position to gain advantage for a family member. Weird, huh? Are my ethics… too ethical? Am I over the top about this sort of stuff, keeping in mind my recent report of an ethical issue to my *cough* manager?

Anyway, now I get to follow up on the first letter with my complaint about that horrible Call Centre operator. ๐Ÿ˜€ I won’t be totally horrible though, I will compliment the service of the Manager who resolved the complaint in an incredibly timely manner (once he was aware of it).

I did not like being a customer of the Department I work for. Imagine if L didn’t have the support structure that he has (ok, I mean me) to deal with shit like this. There must be hundreds (thousands?) of people in the same position who just end up copping it sweet after head-butting the brick wall of bureaucracy.

And I’ll finish with a mention of L’s current obsession – finding the cheapest petrol. He actually drives around comparing petrol prices and then goes back to where it was cheapest. Sometimes his logic just goes right out the window.

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4 Responses to "I won! (and I ramble about it)"

Go you!
…and I’ve found the same thing…. while I know that most of my workmates are hard workers with good hearts, coming in as a member of the public sucks because of the run-aground and because of officious PAs who treat their bosses like royalty and sneer at you for infringing on their precious time.
There are definitely times when I think the words “public servant” is an oxymoron.

I was soooo peeved when I set out a clear case on the phone (and in person) and the response was akin to “we’re right, we’re always right, we don’t make mistakes, suck it up”

It was as if they just weren’t listening. What I particularly loved was the Call Centre girl saying “we sent you a letter about this in October, we must have, we always do” and when I went to the branch we put in a request for copies of all letters sent to L since September. What do you know, there was NO LETTER in October.

PS I don’t call myself a public servant anymore, I try to say ‘government employee’

It has truly opened my eyes though, and when I go back to my office I will have a lot more empathy for people who feel as though they’ve been wronged.

Really good outcome. I think your eldest is very lucky having you in his corner. I like the way you approached it too.

I still feel a bit weird about the guy realising who I was. Admittedly in a previous job (funnily enough, handling written complaints) I did have a fair bit of interaction with him.

I’m kicking myself for not using my married name (which I actually only use on one bank account, and when dealing with the youngest child’s school) but he may still have put 2 and 2 together from the address and my son’s surname.

I’m just so careful about my behaviour being beyond reproach. It’d be damn nice if someone recognised it in a good way! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • corymbia: I do the stiff upper lip thing too. Was worried I was slipping into bona-fide depression last week, but as is usually the case with me... the bad stu

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