Thursday, 7 April 2016

British Bureaucracy in Free Fall.

I had to call a government department today to enquire why I hadn’t received notification of something which I should have received at least two months ago.

I sat through the menu options and recorded announcements, including the now ubiquitous ‘We are currently receiving a higher than average volume of calls, so you might want to call back later.’ (It’s a euphemism which means ‘we don’t have the staff to deal with enquiries promptly these days. Government cutbacks, you understand.’) I didn’t want to call back later because I knew I would get the same message, so I hung on through more menu options and waited.

Eventually I made contact with a so-called advisor. I remained patient while she asked an excessive number of security questions, all the time aware that I was paying for the call because they don’t use freephone numbers any more. (Government cutbacks, you understand.) Eventually I was free to ask her why I hadn’t received my notification.

‘We sent you a letter on 30th January,’ she said smugly.

‘I never received any letter,’ I replied tetchily, ‘would you send me a copy.’

‘Not yet. You’ll have to call again next week.’


‘Because we can’t send out copy letters until after the 11th.’

‘Why not?’

‘It’s the system.’


‘It just is.’

There was silence while I considered whether there was any point in pursuing the matter until after the 11th. The eventual presumption being in the negative, I rang off.

If only she’d taken the opportunity to recite the usual bottom line:

‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’

It would at least have given me the compensation of a wry smile.

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