Dear Powers that Be who work in Government Offices:
And maybe even ‘Dear Canadian Government.”
I’m a socialist as much as the next person (well, I suppose not as much as the next person, or we wouldn’t have the government structure that we have currently). I love it that services are provided to our population that other countries don’t necessarily have, and I would love to see those services provided more widely and more effectively. I don’t think that’s possible in our current political climate, but alas…. I’d even *gasp* pay higher taxes to make it so. Or at least, within reason…. But I digress. This is not the hill I want to die on, today.
Almost exactly four years ago, I found myself in need of such social services and I was reliant on Employment Insurance as I had only managed to find half time employment but still had full time expenses. Mine being the only income in my household, this was quite the hit.
I applied for EI and was approved. I understand the need to consistently report on my income because, well, as much as I believe in social assistance and I believe it needs to exist, I also find myself enraged when such services are abused. While filling out these reports, I made a mistake in reporting the income I’d earned because you asked for bi-weekly reports and one of my pay-stubs was given monthly. I had to do some figuring of my own and what seemed like it should be simple division apparently was not. I made a mistake, it happens.
Four years ago, you sent me a request for information to back up my claim because you found my mistake before I did. At that point, I realized my mistake and I sent in the information along with an explanation, expecting to be required to repay what I’d been overpaid, which is the thing that made the most sense to me. I was dreading it, because I was working half time, and so I couldn’t afford such a set-back, but I wanted to make it right.
And then I never heard from you again.
Well, never’s a strong word.
Four years later, I received a letter in the mail stating that I owe you 679.00.
I’ve tried to make some calls about this amount, because as you can imagine, I want to make sure there’s not four years worth of interest on that bill, since I didn’t know.
But you know what I’ve discovered?
All government services have ridiculous working hours. I’ve tried to call, but you don’t have an answering machine service when your lines are too busy to pick up my call (and it has been several times that I’ve tried to call). Your phones are only answered from 8:30-4 anyway, Monday-Friday so anyone with a job with regular hours would struggle to find time to sit and wait on hold to speak with you. Your offices are also only open Monday-Friday, 8:30-4, while I’m at work. So I can’t talk to you in person because your phone lines either drop my call because you’re too busy, or you’re closed… and I can’t come in in person because I can’t make it there on time from work. I almost made it on Tuesday…. I thought the office closed at 4:30 and I booked it up the stairs to the second floor at 4:02 to find locked doors.
I appreciate the services. They’re helpful. They’re necessary. And quite frankly, without them, four years ago I don’t know what I’d have done. But the fact that your working hours are really only conducive to those who either aren’t working or who don’t keep regular daytime hours is very frustrating.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I thought you should probably be aware. Perhaps consider hiring a second shift of employees so your offices could be open maybe between the hours of 7 and 7? And perhaps have people on the phone from those times? And…. perhaps…. just perhaps…. you could consider just having a hold queue so that if someone is willing to wait on speakerphone while doing other things for the next available attendant, they could? Don’t drop my call because you’re too busy to talk to me? If I’m willing to wait 35 minutes every single time I need to talk to a Rogers representative, don’t you think I’d be willing to wait to discuss 679.00??