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To refuse to accept "the computer says no" from a government agency?

(9 Posts)
CallMeExhausted Tue 19-Aug-14 00:02:55

I live in Canada, and finally, after a prolonged series of "we have no record of the paperwork" and "well, we received it... but" my son has been identified as disabled by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency - the tax people).

Anyhow, because of how long this has been going on. the retroactive payment associated with it from reassessment of taxes etc is significant. I can access my account online and it tells me how much is sitting as a credit in my account - so I know the precise number. It is close to a year's income for my DH, more than that for me...

However, it also has no date for payment allocated to it. I rang the appropriate office today and was told that they only process once a month, and since the file was approved 1 August, instead of 31 July, there would be no payment until 20 September. Another full month to wait.

I was essentially getting the "computer says no" response.

After all this time, you might imagine that it didn't sit well with me that I was being told that the wait would continue. I asked if there was someone with more authority than the overpaid individual reading from a screen on the other end of the line... of course the answer was no - no one in the call centre was able to effect any change. It was suggested that I might want to write to the agency again and have them revisit it (because they have been so forthcoming with my written correspondence in the past hmm ). In light of the fact that they have acknowledged receiving one set of forms but denied the receipt of another when the forms were submitted stapled together that didn't float either.

So - I decided enough was enough - I thanked operator #1289732 or whatever his name was was for his efficient screen reading and ended the call.

And then called my MP. Who, after I explained it all, called his contact within the CRA... I should hear tomorrow morning what the resolution is.

My MiL says I should have just sat back and waited another month - I was out of line to go any farther than the call centre looking for answers. Was I, or after years of trying to sort this out, was it reasonable for me to have someone step in on our behalf to try and get things moving?

AlpacaLypse Tue 19-Aug-14 00:08:52

I don't know how different Canada is to UK when it comes to kicking ass with government agencies being shite, but usually a letter/email to your Member of Parliament does seem to have an effect.

If no response after seven days, resend, this time cc-ed to local and national media.

Us Vipers tend to be very good at the Icily Polite Rude Letter, please don't hesitate to ask for help with wording a particularly cutting bit of prose. grin

CallMeExhausted Tue 19-Aug-14 00:15:46

I am pretty effective at it all - and I was told to expect a call with information (and most likely, resolution) within 24 hours.

After as long as this has carried on (and I have tried to be exceptionally patient) I had just had enough of the canned response today. I guess my MiL has a way to get under my skin and second guess myself - she is lovely otherwise...

Hopefully, by the end of the day tomorrow, I will know how the rest of this will play out.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 19-Aug-14 00:20:26

I had the same shite from immigration in Canada. My MP sorted it out.

Is your IL Canadian? Or lived here a long time? Because I find Canadians (well, West Cost ones) less willing to rock the boat, more rule-bound. They live in a very stable, well-ordered society and are willing to trade that for shouting down the phone at annoying, Kafka-esque plonkers of which there are many here.

HayDayQueen Tue 19-Aug-14 00:21:45

Your MIL was being unreasonable.

These agencies sometimes deliberately make it hard for the ordinary person to work their way through the mountains of paperwork, rules, procedures, etc to get things happening.

I used to work in central government, and I occasionally received frustrated calls from people who had simply no idea how to work their way through it all to get what they needed. I was fortunate to be in a position where a phone call usually got people off their backsides and actually do something about it.

Enough times of doing this, and systems and processes eventually get changed. When the agencies never have to answer to anyone outside, it just stays the same impenetrable fortress.

CallMeExhausted Tue 19-Aug-14 01:26:56

MrsTerry yes - MiL is Canadian, but also quite comfortable financially and not one to rock the boat, so waiting another month for the funds wouldn't ruffle her feathers. Frankly, I am happy that I asked the MP to intervene... in all honesty - some of that money is going to go back into the government coffers - we have to renew our passports.

HayDay the thing that really irked me today was that I was repeatedly getting the "nothing I can do - computer says no" line from the guy on the other end of the line. While I understand that there are limits to what the front line staff can do, I was most frustrated with the fact that he had no other options for me - no way to speak to a human, but I had to mail something to a PO box in the next province (the same address, I might add, that I had sent every request to in the past). If they had lost it so many times before - why should I be confident it wouldn't happen again.

While I understand that there is a reason that there are limits... holy Moses I wish there was a way to bypass them in legitimate cases, too...

steff13 Tue 19-Aug-14 03:18:17

I think you were right to take another step. If it's anything like a Social Security Disability approval here, though, they can take their time issuing back pay, as long as you receive your current benefit in a timely manner. Has your son received his first month's benefit yet?

CallMeExhausted Tue 19-Aug-14 11:39:33

No, even the first month's benefit is not supposed to be paid out until 20 Sept because the automated system deemed it appropriate.

The MP's office said I should hear from them today - I will keep you posted.

jessplussomeonenew Tue 19-Aug-14 14:40:24

Can you ask to have interest paid, either on the original delayed payment or this more recent one? Asking sometimes get things hurried up - or at least sweeten the pill if they can't.

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