Going From Black To Blue To Red

, , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I work as a receptionist in the first floor of city hall.)

Me: “Hello, how may I help you?”

Customer: “I want to renew my passport.”

Me: “Okay, no problem. Do you have the application and is it filled out in black ink?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you have your old passport?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you have checks or money orders?”

(The customer starts to doubt himself and pulls everything out while saying “yes, yes yes, I have everything.” He places all the documents in front of me and starts looking through his stuff. As he is flipping, I notice his documents in blue ink.)

Me: *reaching for his application* “Can I look at your application, I want to make sure it’s in black ink and not blue.”

(I check it.)

Me: “Sir, you are going to have to do it again because it’s in blue ink, and is supposed to be black.”

Customer: “Where does it say that?”

Me: *I point to the top of the page* “Right there.”

(The customer mumbles and shakes his head.)

Me: “Do you want and pen and a clipboard?”

Customer: *with attitude* “Not unless you want me to do it in front of you.”

Me: *handing him a pen and clipboard* “Here you go.”

Customer: *takes pen and gives me back the clipboard* “I don’t need that.” *he starts to fill out the application in front of me, while annoyingly starts making weird huffing noises*

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Unfiltered Story #160114

, , | Unfiltered | August 14, 2019

Please note I am a woman about five years younger than the caller. My boss’s office is about ten feet away from me. Information has been changed to protect identities.
Me: Collector’s Office, can I help you?
Caller: Yes, hi, I’m trying to renew my driver’s license, but it says I owe excise tax to Springfield*
Me: Sure, let me look that up for you. What’s your last name?
Caller: Smith.
Me: Smith, okay, Karen? Did you have a 2001 Dodge?
Caller: Yes.
Me: Okay, so the bill is from 2010 and the total amount owed is $120.00. To pay for this, you can use a credit or debit card and go to the deputy collector’s website at –
Caller: Okay, but what is that for?
Me: It’s for the 2001 Dodge.
Caller: No, I know that. I’m calling because I have no idea what excise tax is.
Me: Oh! Okay. It’s a yearly tax. All of the cars registered in Massachusetts have a yearly tax.
Caller: I’ve never heard of this before. I live in Wisconsin, and I’ve never paid this before. Why is Massachusetts the only state that taxes you on your car?
Me: We aren’t the only state. Lots of states do this. Some call it personal property tax. Some build it into your real estate taxes. They have their own ways of doing it and their own terms, but this is Massachusetts’s way.
Caller: Well, that’s stupid. I’ve lived in three states and none of them have this tax. Three states, that’s a pretty good sampling of what the country does.
Me: Right, but like I said, other states have it, too. I don’t know about Wisconsin specifically, but Massachusetts has it, Connecticut has it, Rhode Island has it… We call it different things though.
Caller: This is ridiculous! I’ve never even lived in Massachusetts!
Me: Okay, somehow the Registry of Motor Vehicles had your car registered in Massachusetts in 2010. It has your name and an address on Longmeadow Street.
Caller: That’s where my school was.
Me: You must have changed your registration address or mailing address to be directed there.
Caller: No! I didn’t even live in Massachusetts! I was only going to school there from 2004 to 2007, so I don’t know why you would have my car there in 2010!
Me: Okay, so you did live here at the time you were going to school, correct?
Caller: I never lived in Massachusetts! I was only going to school there and they made me get a Massachusetts license plate. (side note: we never found out who “they” were)
Me: Were you telecommuting from Wisconsin?
Caller: No! I was going to school in Massachusetts, so I only lived there from 2004 to 2007!
Me: Wait…you said you didn’t live here, now you’re saying you did live here?
Caller: You’re not listening to me!
Me: I’m trying to understand what you’re telling me. We’re going in circles, and I’m trying to help you.
Caller: You’re not helping me! You’re screwing with me!
Me: I’m not trying to screw with you. I’m trying to give you the information to-
Caller: I have lived in three states! None of them have this tax! Why is your state the only state that taxes cars! This is stupid!
Me: Like I said, we are not the only state. Many states do this, but we all do it differently.
Caller: No, you’re just trying to ruin everybody’s lives! Why was my car even registered in Massachusetts if I didn’t live there in 2010?
Me: Registrations are good for three years. You must not have cancelled the registration, so the RMV was still recognizing the plate as active. If the plate was active as of January first of that year, it would have generated a bill for the year.
Caller: But I wasn’t even living there! Why would you send me a bill if I wasn’t living there?!
Me: Again, the registration was still active, meaning you didn’t cancel it. That tells the RMV that the car is still on the road with that plate.
Caller: But I was living in Wisconsin! I’ve lived in three states! They all have registrations that expire after a year! Why is Massachusetts the only one that has three years? I’ve lived in three states! You don’t have to cancel the plates when you change states! It does that automatically!
Me: I highly doubt that. The state doesn’t know when you are moving, so you have to let them know either by going to the RMV or doing it online that you are canceling the plates. Otherwise-
Caller: I’ve lived in three states, and none of them do it this way! That’s a pretty good indication of how the country runs things!
Me: Three states out of fifty, so six percent of the states, that’s not very high.
Caller: Ohhhh you’re sooooo smart! You know how many states we have! Well, you know what? I’m very intelligent, and I know how these things work, and you’re doing it wrong!
Me: I don’t doubt that you’re intelligent. I’m just trying to let you know how the excise tax works here and how to pay your bill. (side note: she’s been crying for about five minutes now)
Caller: You either aren’t listening at all, or you don’t give a s*** about me and this whole situation!
Me: I assure you, I am listening to you, and I’m not going to repeat that second part.
Caller: No you don’t give a s***!
Me: I mean, I’m sorry you’re having a bad day-
Caller: I’m not having a bad day! What, just because I’m a woman and I’m crying and upset, that must mean I’m crazy?!
Me: No, I’m a woman, too, I’m not discriminating against you-
Caller: I’m a crying yelling woman, so I’m crazy! I’ve lived in three states! You’re not helping me!
Boss: Hang up, you’ve explained everything to her, if she keeps yelling and swearing at you, hang up.
Me: Ma’am, if you keep yelling, I’m going to hang up.
Caller: Don’t you hang up on me!
Me: Okay, well you can either pay the bill and I can give you the phone number and website of the deputy collector, or you can talk to the RMV, and I can give you their website and phone number –
Caller: No! I’m not going to call them, be put on hold for 20 minutes, then they’re going to say they’ll get back to me in 24 hours and I’ll never hear from them!
Me: I’m sorry, but I’m trying to help you –
Caller: You’re not helping me! You’re not f****** doing s***!
Me: Okay, I’m hanging up now.
Caller: DON’T YOU F****** DARE-!
Me: *click*

Not 30 seconds later she called back, my boss recognized the name/number, and she took the call.
Boss: Collector’s office, can I help you?… I am the supervisor… I was listening the whole time… She was not yelling, she was keeping her voice calm… Well, you didn’t let her explain it to you… She was trying… You can call the deputy… Well, they’re website is… If you’re not going to listen to me, how am I supposed to help you?… I looked up your name, you did have bills in the past… Diane paid them for you, do you know a Diane?… She’s your mother? Well, maybe you should talk to her… Okay, but you were billed in the past, and they were paid… I’m not talking to you anymore. *click*

The following week, our reports showed that she paid the bill, so I don’t know what happened after that or what poor person had to deal with her.

The True Cost Of Bureaucracy

, , , , , | Working | August 5, 2019

My dad told me this story. When I was born, my dad had to file paperwork to get me my citizenship certificate. Unfortunately, he made a mistake in the filing process. Either he misread the filing fee, was looking at an older form, or accidentally wrote down the wrong amount, or something, but whatever it was, somehow the amount he paid ended up being short by fifty cents.

Sometime later, he got a letter from the embassy requesting a cheque for the additional fifty cents. My dad sent in the fifty-cent cheque as requested, but couldn’t help his amusement as he noticed the cost of the stamp on the envelope they had sent to him.

It was a one-dollar stamp.

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The Civil Service Makes You Uncivil And Is Not A Service

, , , , , | Working | August 1, 2019

(I’ve recently finished university and am looking for full-time employment in the field I have studied. In the meantime, I am eligible for payments from the government. To get my payments, I have to report my income from my part-time retail job. I was previously on a similar payment scheme while at university, so I’m very familiar with the online reporting process. However, when I go to report my income, I find that the website throws up an error message, so I go down to the organisation’s nearest office to get help. After a LONG wait, I’m finally called over to talk to someone.)

Me: “I’ve recently switched from student allowance to Newstart allowance, but for some reason, when I try to report my income online, I receive an error message.”

Employee #1: “No worries. I’ll look into that for you and let you know when it’s fixed. I’ll call you by the end of the week.”

(And with that, I’m sent home. I spend the week waiting for a call and never get one. I wait another week just to be sure. There’s still nothing, and all this time I still can’t report my income, so I’ve not been getting payments and have been living only off my fairly small income from my retail job. Finally, I go back in. After another long wait, I see a different employee.)

Me: “I was in here the other week. I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but the website won’t let me report my income. Last time I was in, they told me they’d fix it and give me a call by the end of the week. That was two weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing.”

Employee #2: “That’s strange. Let me look into that for you and I’ll give you a call when it’s fixed.”

Me: “Okay, but that’s literally what I was told last time and nothing happened.”

Employee #2: “I know, but there’s not much else we can do. Sorry. Tell you what, though; I’ll pass this on to my supervisor and she’ll make it a priority. You should hear back within the next day or two.”

(A week later, nothing. Even worse, I receive an email telling me that because I’ve failed to report my income in so long, my Newstart allowance has been cancelled and I will have to reapply to see if I am eligible to receive it again. Now at the end of my tether, I go in again. After the longest wait yet…)

Me: “I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but whenever I try and report my income, I get an error message. I’ve been in twice to try and resolve it and both times I was told they’d look into it and give me a call in the next few days. That never happened. Then, this morning, I got an email saying that my payments had been cancelled because I hadn’t reported my income in so long.”

Employee #3: “They said they’d look into it and give you a call? That’s strange. Hang on; give me a second.”

(She gets up and goes to talk with another employee. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I see them looking at something on a computer together. Five minutes later, she comes back.)

Employee #3: “Okay, it should be fixed now. I’ve also put you back onto Newstart so you don’t have to reapply. And while you’re here, you may as well report your income to me in person. Is there a reason you didn’t report it in person the last two times you were in?”

Me: “I wasn’t given the option.”

Employee #3: “You should have been. You would have kept getting payments.”

(I report my income to her and she enters it into the system.)

Employee #3: “Okay, you should receive all of your back-payments tomorrow morning. Before you go, just try accessing your account on one of our computers to double-check that the issue is resolved.”

(I did and it worked. The following morning, I got my back-payments and since then I’ve had no issues reporting my income. Thanks, [Employee #3]! I’m happy to know that there’s at least one government employee who knows what she’s doing.)

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President-ing Under The Influence

, , , | Right | July 23, 2019

(I work in backgrounds for the government. We check all kinds of criminal convictions that are misdemeanors or worse. This means even small things like driving without a license. If it’s a misdemeanor, we look into it. The guy I am working with now has had a few DUIs — driving under the influence. We ask for court documents from everybody, no exceptions. We don’t have a public counter, so all communication is by phone, email, or letter. I’m speaking to this guy by phone as I explain our document requirement.)

Guy: “This—“ *meaning his DUIs* “—has nothing to do with my [application]!”

(I remind him of the [application] and repeat our requirements.)

Guy: “Well, Bush had DUIs. I’m just like him. Wouldn’t you let him have [application]?”

Me: “Sir, if the former president wanted [application], I’d have him submit the required paperwork, too.”

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