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A bureaucratic perception.

Posted by Big John on April 18, 2012

During the last couple of weeks I have spent a considerable amount of time settling the affairs and arranging the funeral of my late aunt, who died recently at the age of ninetytwo.

Now I must say that most people with whom I have been dealing have been sympathetic and helpful, but I feel that I must tell you about my experiences when trying to register the death of my aunt with the local authorities.

As I live a considerable distance from the part of the country where my aunt died it was arranged that I should make a “registration by declaration” at my local registry office. I was given an appointment time, a reference number and told to take along all relevent documents. I was also informed that staff at this office would assist with informing government and local council departments of my aunt’s death.

I arrived on time and was met by a rather nervous looking woman, who greeted me with .. “I’ve never done this before” .. Just what I needed to hear ! .. She then started questioning me about the circumstances of my aunt’s death, while constantly referring to her notes and making me repeat myself several times.

When she finished she told me that she could not issue a death certificate or give me the relevent forms to advise pensions, tax offices etc. She said that all the information would be sent to the registry office in the borough where my aunt had died, and that that office would issue the necessary certificate etc. She also gave me a paper with a reference and telephone number and said that I should make an appointment to visit another council office where I would be informed of how to advise all those officials who needed to know my aunt’s details. She said that they were listed on the paper. They were not !

Oh! shit … I thought … this is going to take forever ! … and then I noticed that the paper she had given me was headed … “Directgov” … Hang on ! … I thought … I’ll ‘Google’ that … and came up with a website where I could link to something called “Tell Us Once” which enabled me to inform 14 local council and government departments in one ‘hit’ ! The whole procedure took about twenty minutes. Fan-bloody-tastic !

Now I have to ask the question … Why didn’t the stupid woman who gave me the paper tell me of this Department of Work and Pension’s on-line service ?

Well either she had never heard of it herself, or more likely, she saw before her some old git who had probably never heard of the internet and couldn’t possibly know how to …

… use a computer !


5 Responses to “A bureaucratic perception.”

  1. grannymar said

    Now I have learned something. Thanks John!

  2. I can see both sides. You were put to unnecessary stress and inconvenience but the clerk suffered too because she had not been adequately trained and prepared for the task beforehand.

    Whenever I have business with competent officers who deal with complex matters with aplomb I always marvel at their expertise and wonder how much time and effort they needed to expend in order to acquire it. I have been a beginner myself many times in life and know how nerve racking it can be so I do have some sympathy for your apparently incompetent clerk. The people you should blame are not her but those who are charged with the job of training her properly.

  3. rummuser said

    Big John, you have no idea how lucky you are to be living in the UK. If you want to see bureaucratic ineptitude and arrogance, plus of course the outstretched hand, you have to come over here. I have had innumerable experiences with such matters, and since I am no longer in a position to delegate such work to a secretary, I choose to use the next best solution. There are always go betweens who do this for a fee. That fee will also include the grease element and you pay only when all the work is done and you have the necessary documents in your hand. You will be surprised as to how efficient the system is once you take recourse to them. The down side? I am privileged as I can afford such a service, millions of Indians can not and what they go through is heart breaking.

  4. Ginnie said

    “Fan-bloody-tastic” …. what a great word. I can’t wait to use it, John.
    As to your subject … I had no idea all that could be done by computer. I wonder if we have the same service here in the U.S. but I hope I won’t have to find out first-hand.

  5. It is a source of constant amazement that availablility of computer programs to lessen paperwork is not well-publicized by government agencies here in the U.S.. Some of it is very helpful once we are guided to the correct links. However, other programs I’ve tried using have turned out to be user-unfriendly in the extreme. We’ve been in the computer age for quite a while now; it’s about time we start being smarter as societies in using the wonderful gadgetry available to us.

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