They Must Have Been High(lands)

, , , , , | Working | September 13, 2017

(I have applied for Universal Credit and have to attend a compulsory interview for it. I get the email telling me that my interview is not only 400 miles away, but also in another country. I call the helpline to ask them to reschedule my interview.)

Helpline Employee: “How can I help you today?”

Me: “I’ve been given a date for my interview, but it’s in Edinburgh, and I live in London. I was just wondering if that was a computer glitch or something?”

Helpline Employee: “Would that be a problem?”

Me: “Well… yes. I live 400 miles away. In London, England.”

Helpline Employee: *as though I am stupid* “Edinburgh is in Scotland, not in England. Can you attend the interview or not?”

Me: “No. As I have said, it’s 400 miles away, so I have no way of getting there. I’d like an interview closer to my home, please.”

Helpline Employee: “I can send you the public transport options to get you to your interview. It’s really important to go to it!”

(I don’t want to hang up and call again, as I was on hold for so long. I decide to go with it and see if she spots the problem.)

Me: “Can we talk through transport options now?”

Helpline Employee: “No, all I can do is email them to the email address you provided.”

Me: *getting frustrated* “I have already looked at transport options. As I don’t have a car, I can only go by train. A train from London to Edinburgh takes about five hours, usually longer. I can’t afford that kind of trip, and even if I could, I don’t want to spend more than ten hours on a train in one day. Can I change the location of my appointment, please?”

Helpline Employee: “How far away do you actually live?”

Me: *thinking we’re finally getting somewhere* “About 400 miles.”

Helpline Employee: “I can move your appointment to the afternoon. That will mean you will have time to attend!”

(I just hung up and resolved to be on hold again. I gave it a minute and called back. After being on hold for ages, I spoke to someone who changed my appointment to the branch that was 20 minutes walk from my house. He had no idea why I was sent to the Edinburgh branch, but at least he understood the concept of distance.)

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