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At Least This Problem Wasn’t The Other Way Around

, , , , , , | Right | August 17, 2022

In Massachusetts, cities and towns can elect to collect annual property/excise tax on boats. The bill will come from the city or town where the boat is moored, docked, or stored. I work in the tax collector’s office for one of these towns. Some time after the bill is due, we send out a second notice. Some time after the second notice is due, we employ a Deputy Collector to send out a third notice. Some time after the third notice is due, they send an officer or sheriff to hand-deliver the notice to the property address.

The year is 2022.

Me: “Collector’s office, can I help you?”

Resident: “Yes, I hope you can. I’m calling about a supposed overdue boat excise bill.”

Me: “Okay, I can definitely look that up for you. What’s the last name?”

Resident: “[Resident’s Last Name]. I don’t know why I have an overdue bill. I’ve never gotten a bill from you guys except for one which was abated in full. I dock my boat in Connecticut.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Did you note that on your registration?”

Resident: “It is now.”

Me: “Okay, well, I see one bill from 2014 that was unpaid.”

Resident: “Why? I never got a single bill except for that one I told you about.”

Me: “I don’t know why it’s unpaid, but I see that you also got bills in 2010, 2011, and 2012 that you paid.”

Resident: “That’s not true. I never paid a bill here for my boat. My boat is in Connecticut. I had one bill that I abated. I never paid a bill.”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. I see a bill that was paid in January 2011, one that was paid in October 2011, one that was paid in October 2012, and the 2014 bill that wasn’t paid.”

Resident: “You’re saying I paid three bills for my boat?”

Me: “That’s what I’m seeing, yes. In fact, they were all paid through our online payment system, so a receipt would have been emailed to you.”

Resident: “I never got an email.”

How do you remember what emails you did or didn’t get from ten years ago or more?

Me: “Okay, well, I can probably pull the receipts if you want me to look into it.”

Resident: “Please do. I never paid them.”

Me: “Okay, I’m going to put you on hold while I look those up.” *Does so* “Okay, I found them. They all have the same contact information.”

Resident: “What date was one of them paid?”

Me: “The 2012 bill was paid October 24th, 2012.”

Resident: “October 24th? See, that obviously wasn’t me who paid them.”

Me: “Okay?”

Resident: “Yeah. My anniversary is that week. I was on vacation then. There’s no way I would have come in to pay them while I was on vacation.”

Me: “Well, they were paid online, so you didn’t come in.”

Resident: “I wouldn’t have paid my bills on vacation, either. And my son was thirteen at the time; he couldn’t have paid them, either.”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. I have the receipt here. [Resident]?”

Resident: “Yes.”

Me: “[Address]?”

Resident: “Yes.”

Me: “[Phone number]?”

Resident: “Yes.”

Me: “[Email address]?”

Resident: “Yes.”

Me: “Then, it really is odd. Either you or someone you know paid your bill. Or you had identity fraud seven to ten years ago, and they were very nice to pay your bills for you.”

Resident: *Pauses* “Maybe… So, how do I pay this overdue bill?”

Me: “You can pay it online at [Deputy Collector’s Website], or you can mail a money order for [amount] to [address].”

Resident: “Okay, I’ll send it in.”

Me: “Thank you. Have a great day!”

It’s Like Their Eyes Have Been Masked

, , , , | Right | August 13, 2022

Back when our town had a mask mandate for indoor public spaces, we wanted to make sure anyone coming into the town hall was aware they needed a mask before they entered.

We taped a letter-sized laminated sheet of paper to the door advising entrants of the mask mandate. There were two three-foot-tall planters on each side of the front door with similar-sized notices sticking out of them. There was a large notice with a metal frame measuring about four feet tall and two feet wide placed three to five feet to the right of the door.

After entering the door, there is another poster board notice of the same size on the wall facing the door. To the left of our service window, no more than six inches from viewing into our office, there is another letter-sized notice.

One resident, known for pointing out perceived inefficiencies in our systems and resources, came in and laughed at the size and number of notices between the front of our building and our office window, a distance of no more than thirty feet.

Resident: “Who would be so clueless as to not know they need to wear a mask inside?”

I thought to myself (as we all know here on Not Always Right), “People don’t read signs.”

After taking care of his business, the resident stepped to the side to gather his things as the next person came in the front door without a mask. After seeing me, the resident, and everyone else in the office wearing a mask, he asked:

Resident #2: “Oh, do we need to wear a mask in here?”

And that, Mr. Resident, is why we (try to) have so many signs.