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  • The Un-Civil Servant

  • BB

    BB is Bureaucratic Bullsh*t.
    It can also stand for Big Brother.
    In the civil service, they are one and the same.

  • What’s it all about?

    Bureaucracy is an umbrella term for official incompetence; that is, incompetence which has officially been sanctioned as being good practice. No-where in the world is that more apparent than in the British public sector. Misadministration of public services is the backbone of every government led department.
    Trust me, I’m a civil servant.

  • It’s a disease

    Bureaucracy runs rife through the corridors of power like a child riddled with ADHD, high on fizzy pop, crisps and jelly-beans.

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Can They Really Be This Thick?

English: Poster for The Idiot Cycle

English: Poster for The Idiot Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You see, this is what we have to deal with, hour after hour, day in, day out.  Can you blame me for wanting to throttle every last one of these idiots?!

This is a word for word transcript of a conversation I had with a member of Joe Public, today.

JP: When is my payment in December?

Me: The 21st.

JP: The 23rd?

Me: 21st!

JP: But the 23rd is Christmas day.

Me: 21st!!

JP: Oh.  The 23rd.  Thanks. Bye.

Notice how I didn’t even bother to correct the Christmas day abonimation? It’s not worth it.  Sometimes – most times – it’s like talking to jellyfish.


What Language Please?

Free Translation

If we get a call from someone who doesn’t speak English (you’d probably be surprised how many we get), we have to use a telephone interpreting service.  This is a three-way conversation between the helpline officer, the customer and the interpreter.  We can connect to an interpreter through this service almost immediately, for any language.  And this service costs a small fortune for every call.

Now, I didn’t get one of these today, but one call I did get prompted me to explain the reality of how we deal with these calls!

It was a call from someone who originally came from Slovakia.  The speaker was the son whose mother didn’t speak English, but his wasn’t too bad.   He told me what she needed and I complied, but during the call he said his mother had telephoned five times over the last couple of days and requested an interpreter.  The problem was that every time she was being connected to one, she was cut off.  Strangely enough, this seems to be a common occurence for calls such as these.  Any guesses as to why this might be?  Faulty equipment, perhaps?

Nope, your first thoughts were correct.  We cut them off!  Most of them anyway, and a lot of helpline officers do it.  The nightmare you have trying to sort out a problem whilst dealing with an interpreter who doesn’t have a clue how the benefit works is unbelievable.  Of course, we all take the odd one of these calls in the correct manner, just not to make it too obvious to the little Hitlers in the back office.  But it is amazing how many times I dial the wrong connection number and the recorded message tells me “this number is not recognised”, or as the connection is ringing my finger slips on the big red disconnect button.  They shouldn’t make it so big!  It’s very distracting.

Look, before you all start shouting the odds, don’t you think the lazy blighters ought to at least make the effort to speak our language before claiming our benefits?  Half the time we do connect with an interpreter, we could do with an interpreter for the interpreter!  It’s a bloody stupid service given solely so the big, fat, soft, lefty do-gooders can say we’re embracing diversity and report to the politicians that all their asses are covered.  Bullsh*t!  As far as they’re concerned, ‘everyone has the right to converse in their own language.’  Even if a Welsh person who can speak English perfectly (and surely 99% of them do), wants to speak in Welsh, we have to transfer them to a nominated Welsh speaker!  Why?  What difference does it make?

One day soon, I am going to learn how to say, “F*ck *ff” in every language!

Rabbit, Rabbit

I had a call today from some Joe Citizenwhite rabbit

who was concerned because he hasn’t received his DLA for a while.  I can’t remember why he hadn’t but he said he was desperate for it because:

  1. He had to get some gas
  2. He had a bill to pay
  3. His rabbit needed some food

I really thought I had heard it all but apparently not!


The Survey Says . . .

Well, Joes, how’s it going?  Can you believe it’s two years since I told you all about my work day?  Amazing how time flys by.  Time really doesn’t just go quick when you’re having fun, in fact, I’ve noticed that when you’re having fun, it’s usually because you’re doing something different to your usual daily slog or doing something you don’t do often.  And when you’re doing those things, time actually seems to slow down!  Whoever said time flys when you’re having fun must have been a politician.  They always spout bull.

Anyway, today was like any other at work.  Nothing outstanding or unusual happened, but the daily grind does seem to be getting worse.  Not just because every time I go there the ‘Soul Vampire’ who sits under my desk, drains a little bit more out of me, but also there are a lot of changes happening very soon.  Even without these changes (which I will bore you with at some point soon) the whole place is becoming excruciatingly wearisome.  It ranks only second in the worlds most undesirable place to work, just behind the ‘Bog of Eternal Stench.’ Mind you, saying that, I think I’d rather be a cleaner there than a helpline officer here.

Here’s something Joe Citizen does quite a lot that makes me giggle every time! (insert ‘throw my pen across the room in a vile temper’ for ‘giggle’).  Here’s the scenario:

  • Me: Good morning, may I have the customer’s surname, please?survey question
  • Joe: The customer’s survey? What’s that?
  • Me: The customer’s surname.
  • Joe: I’ve got a National Insurance number, is that what you mean?
  • No.  The surname!
  • Joe: Sorry, I don’t know what that is.
  • Me (giggles!): No, I want the LAST NAME! The SURNAME!
  • Joe: Sorry, why do you want the cat’s name? I don’t have a cat.
  • Me: WHAT IS YOUR. . . LAST. . . NAME?!!!

At this point they finally get it!  And my blood pressure has gone up, the girl next to me is laughing her head off and my supervisor has walked out of the room on pretext of getting a coffee so he doesn’t have to bollock me for being a twat!  You can’t blame me though, surely! That really does happen on a weekly basis – maybe not the cat thing though!

Apart from that, I had a brill day!  NOT.

Oh, and we have finally upgraded our work e-mail to Office 2010 from Office 2000!  Though we still have IE6, so it didn’t work for most people all day!  Our computer systems are sh*te.  But what can you do?  Nothing that happens there surprises me.  I only wish it did.

Try not to think about it.

An old lady damn near destroyed me today.

Normally, when I get calls from ‘little old ladies’, I breathe a sigh of relief, settle back in my chair and prepare for a good old relaxing chat with a cup of tea and a slice of cake – without the cup of tea and slice of cake.   Today’s little old lady caught me totally unawares in my slouched position and mellow demeanour.  She was seventy five and was just phoning up to enquire as to whether she might be entitled to Attendance Allowance.   Apparently her daughter said she should be on it – that’s good enough for me!

So I start taking her through the criteria and when I get to the bit about needing help to get dressed she perks up and proudly proclaims she always needs help in pulling up her panties!

That’s what she called them – panties.

At this point my brain went into melt-down.  If she’d have called them knickers or her girdle, then fair enough.  But to refer to her Marks and Spencer Ultimate Firm Support Control Waist and Thigh Cinchers as panties, just ruined the last thirty years of healthy adult male fantasies.  When I think of panties (and I do, occasionally), I picture a tiny pristine white sliver of shear cotton, tightly encasing the shapely rear of a racy nineteen year old blonde.  Not any more.  Now I see a wrinkly, infirm old lady being helped into her iron knickers by some not too lucky carer.

Beware little old ladies.  They can destroy your life.

Right payments programme? You decide.

Did you know that you can get DLA because you’re obese?  Well, not because of that exactly but because of the problems you may have because of your obesity.  For instance you may be so huge that you need someone to be with you to help you get around (making sure you don’t topple over in the street, causing injury to your self or others and having the humiliation of ten firemen lifting you in a harness attached to a crane – then again that might be your thing!).  Or you may need help getting dressed because your arms won’t meet around your considerably middle, preventing you from fastening the buttons on your cardy.  You may even only be able to walk ten yards before you are puffing and panting and in need of an oxygen tank.  You get the idea.  It’s NOT the disability, it’s the problems it creates.

So, if you have kids that are violent and abusive, need closer supervision when outdoors than other kids, need help eating, taking medication and getting dressed because they have problems keeping still, then that’s why they get DLA; not because they are just naughty…I mean, have ADHD.

They just don’t listen

Since the great election shakeup we’ve had a lot of calls from worried citizens.  They are afraid that their DLA will be in danger because of the government’s new initiative to start compulsory medicals.  At the moment the minimum requirement for a potential DLA’er is to fill in a form.  That’s it.  It is basically a self assessment benefit.  That is why the flood gates of abuse are so wide open.  It is unusual for a decision to come back as ‘entitled’ without at least getting one medical report but it does happen.  So, under the new rules (coming in 2013) all claimants will require a medical.  It hasn’t half caused panic.  A typical enquiry might go like this:

Joe C:  “You know this new DLA medical thing they’re bringing in?”

BB HQ: “Yes.”

Joe C: “What’s it going to involve?”

BB HQ: “We don’t know yet, the details haven’t been worked out, but we will let you know more nearer the time.”

Joe C: “So where will it take place?  Will it be my doctor or will one come out to me?”

BB HQ: “Like I said, we don’t know yet, it’s not been finalised.”

Joe C: “Will we still have to fill in forms as well?”

BB HQ: “I don’t know, we haven’t been told, but we will let you know as soon as we do.”

Joe C: “It’s a bit worrying.  Will I lose my DLA?  Will we have to have a new medical at every renewal?”

BB HQ: “Sir, we really have no idea.  All we know is it starts in 2013, nothing to worry about just yet.”

Joe C: “Right, but what if I miss the appointment?  Will I lose my money.  Can you make sure I will be in that day?”

BB HQ: “Look, there is nothing more I can tell you.  We will be in touch as soon as we can, OK?  We don’t know any details”

Joe C: “What if the doctor says I’m alright?  It’s my back and I can’t get out of bed, he might be nasty and say I’m ok.  I have to get my mum to bring me my fags and my mate can only come round with a bottle of voddy once a week.  I haven’t got much of  a life as it is…hello?…hello?”

That’s about the gist of it.  OK, that was a bit stereotypical but so what?  I have to get my frustrations out somehow and believe me, eight out of ten claimants prefer whining*.  My thoughts are that if you’re worried a medical will deem you too fit for DLA then you shouldn’t be on it in the first place.  That fits in nicely with another one of my thoughts (I have them quite often).  If someone is spending their DLA money on anything that doesn’t relate to why they are receiving it, ie they’re paying the gas bill instead of a carer or buying Christmas presents for the grandkids instead of skin rash cream, then ditto, they also obviously don’t need it.

A lot (I feel the urge to say, most, but you’ll just think me cynical) of Joe C’s do not use their DLA on things that you would feel appropriate in aiding them through their illness or disability.  DLA is a weekly or four weekly benefit often awarded for a number of years, if not indefinitely.  In my opinion this is a waste of money when quite often one item bought would ease the actual reason for claiming, ie a wheelchair or a walk in bath or a stairlift.  What do they spend the other ten thousand weekly payments on?  Do I really need to go there?

*2010 survey as conducted by the un-civil servant (50,358 out of 55,864 calls used).