Thu, 19 Feb 2009

More idiots parking blocking the path // at 09:00

Around and around we go; Connex and Monash City Council, Monash City Council and Connex....

Every couple of weeks someone decides to ignore the no parking signs, to ignore the huge white markings on the ground, to ignore the fact that they're blocking the footpath and bike path, and decides to park illegally at the end of the Oakleigh station car-park. Anyone on foot who is skinny enough can squeeze past, anyone on a bike, with a pram or shopping trolley or who is fatter than average either cannot get past at all, or has to scrape along the side of the idiot's car. The council — Monash City Council — seem to ignore this and rarely police the car-park and even more rarely book the cars. Understandably, a number of people on foot or on bikes get annoyed, but unfortunately a lot of them take it out by ripping the mirrors and wipers off the offending car, an act that is hardly likely to give the driver charitable thoughts towards the next cyclist they meet.

One too many cars parked here, this morning I rang up Monash City Council and spoke to their “local laws” officer and asked to have the offending cars ticketed. As usual, whenever I speak with the council a Kafkaesque miasma descends. The staff member I spoke with insisted that the car-park is a railway car-park and is the operated and policed by Connex, and that the council is not allowed to enter it and issue any tickets. OK I thought, I'll just ring Connex… ha ha, not so easy. After the usual voice mail menus and irritations I got to a human and they insisted most strenuously that Connex is only responsible for the car-park and surrounds — an area that I have never seen them clean or maintain, but that's another problem — and that only the local councils are legally allowed to issue parking tickets and that I will have to speak with the council. Pointing out to Connex that this was the opposite of what the council said I was politely told “Not our responsibility.” So thank you everyone, thank you for buck passing.

At least I know that at some stage in the past the council has got off their lazy arse and booked at least one car that parked there, I've got a photo of it from back in September 2007!

Oh well, here's hoping that either the council starts to book them or a few cars get torched, maybe then people might stop parking there!

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Thu, 22 Jan 2009

Kafkaesque bureaucracy; EPA & Monash City Council // at 16:30

Monash City Council rang up today to verify that the rubbish dumping report that I made to the EPA that the EPA then gave to the council was a report that I wished the council to hand to their local laws officers to actually do something about.

I have no idea why they make this so hard. The Red-Cross donation bins have a sign on them, the sign says to only place items in the bins and that anything outside the bins is dumped and should be reported to the EPA. I watched someone dump a boot-load of crap next to the bin. Ring the EPA to report it and they say it should go to the council!. The EPA then "help" by handing the report to the council. Then the council ring and see if you want the report acted on.

As an aside I also pointed out to Monash council that the signs that they put up all along the railway telling people to report dumped rubbish to the EPA all have the wrong phone number on them — a number that doesn't exist! Apparently this will be reported to the supervisor.

2009-Jan-29: I've now had a phone call from the local laws officer and have to make an appointment with him to make a statement so that they can take it to court! It just goes on getting harder and harder….
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Wed, 18 Jun 2008

Incentivise! Incentivise! Incentivise! // at 13:00

Now how is this for serendipity, up until today I had never heard this magnificent new verb(?), then all of a sudden it appeared in a mailing list that I read... and was promptly shot down by the grammar police. Incentivise.. now what the heck is that meant to mean and who on the planet made it up?

Half an hour later and I find that the BBC has compiled a list of the top 50 office-speak phrases you love to hate and there it is at number four! I expect to see the list in The Age in about a week and the Herald Sun a week or so after that, but I could have the order wrong.

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Fri, 06 Jun 2008

Stupidity, Security, Photography — the War on Photography // at 10:00

From Bruce Schneir's Schneier on Security, possibly one of the best articles I've ever read on the increasing harassment of anyone who dares to wield a camera in a public place:

... The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography. ...

Thank you Bruce.

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Wed, 14 May 2008

We're from the government, we're here to help... // at 20:00

Everyone loves a baby... including the government so it would seem. The government in all its myriad forms; Federal, State and Local, they all want in on the act, they're all here to help...

An inundation of glossy brochures and photocopied fact sheets, two DVDs, registering with local health care, state records, national medical insurance.

This morning the regional maternal health nurse came to visit, to record, to instruct and book us in for further visits at our "local" maternal health centre. Except it isn't our local centre, the local one is easy to get to and about four minutes walk — we've been allocated to one that's three times as far away, and on the far side of a six-lane main road. At least we managed to get reallocated, then had to sit and listen to about half an hour of an interesting mix of useful advice, the bleeding obvious, and what I think are personal opinions, all mixed in as one. She handed over a great sheaf of photocopies of local guvment advice, then carefully took her pen and crossed some bits out and made her own annotations. I guess that like all free advice, its worth what we pay for it.

Paperwork step one, register the baby with the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You have two months, and if you do not all sorts of dire things will happen. Hating to be caught with an unlicensed baby, we leap at the chance to placate the government.

This one's not so bad, just four pages of questions that must be filled in, then signatures from both parents, both witnessed. One of the nurses from the hospital had told us we're allowed to witness each other's signatures, so we did. On the back of the form we then found a footnote saying that we're not allowed to witness each other's signatures. Oh well, we'll send it off and see what happens. Now on to the next one...

Half-way through filling out the four pager paper form to register the new baby with Medicare we find that you get to a certain point and then have to do part of it either online or via the phone, then transcribe some receipt number onto the paper form in order to continue. Typically convoluted. I started by going to the website, http://familyassist.gov.au/, but of course there is absolutely no indication of what you have to do! Fumbling around found a page that looked promising, but surprise surprise, you can't go any further without "registering" and creating yet another bloody account on yet another bloody website. I started filling this out, meanwhile Jo simply picked up the phone and started to call. She'd was in touch with a person and starting the process before I'd even got the rest of the way through creating the account on the website.

Hey, dearest government, if the only websites you can make are this bloody convoluted and hard to use, PLEASE DITCH THE WEBSITES and stop pretending you have an online presence!

Second surprise; despite us having sent any number of Medicare claims in to them in the past nine months, indeed quite a few over the past three years, they claim that there's no record of us at this address! This is despite them somehow managing to send us refunds TO THIS ADDRESS for the past three years!

Anyway, after giving out a whole lot of details over the phone, we are now in possession of a magic registering number which we can enter on the paper form, together with re-entering half the details already given out over the phone! We can then send off the form where all the details will be transcribed from paper back into someone's database — hopefully without too many transcription errors.

OK, we now think the paperwork has been dealt with. What's the next surprise in store?

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Wed, 14 Feb 2007

With glacial slowness…. // at 23:59

Tada! A card appears in the mailbox, "Your water meter has been exchanged". Well how about that, amazing!

Now let me see, I first rang South East Water on May 10, they didn't seem to do anything until six months later when I got the "Call re. your recent enquiry" letter on Oct 10, then when I rang to make the booking for a meter replacement had the — "When will they come?" "Dunno, but the plumber will ring first", "Ok, when will they ring?", "Dunno" — phone conversation.

I guess I should be happy that at least they finally did replace the broken meter, and they did it without me having to make yet another phone call to the disinterested "dunno" woman.

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Tue, 19 Dec 2006

Australia Post and the Christmas spirit // at 23:59

I don't know where we got the square Christmas cards from, but they're not an Australia Post approved size. In the nasal whiny words of the unhappy woman serving: “They're too big, I'll have to charge you double.” Wow, $0.90 to post a card, that's some markup for something 1mm too wide to fit through the slot in the guide!

“...and the parcel?” No, I can't have it. It doesn't matter that I've just posted ten cards with both my and Jo's names on the back of them, that I've got the card for the parcel, that I know what the parcel is and who its from, I'm not Jo and I CAN'T HAVE IT. No, I can't ring Jo up and get approval verbally either.

Thank you for your helpful smiling customer service, I guess I'll try to come back tomorrow with my name and Jo's name written into the official “sign it to my agent” box, the box that they have no chance of verifying!

Too much grumpiness, too much stupidity. I made my way home, got changed and went out for an enjoyable circuituous bike ride on the way too work.

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Mon, 04 Dec 2006

Bureaucratic gibberish // at 23:59

The department is experiencing a no-growth period in its operational budget

For #@$A@#$@#$ sake! The entire bloody university and every person in it is pathologically incapable of using the English language to say a single thing in plain ordinary terms. I've sat through meetings where each of the three managers say "at the end of the day" so many times to each other that I start to think that they are taking the mickey, I've heard "going forward" used four times in a single statement, and we are inundated with "issues" because apparently "problem" is now a forbidden word.

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Fri, 10 Nov 2006

Speed of a Bureaucracy... // at 23:59

I refer to your recent enquiry to South East Water regarding your account for the above property.

My what? I've no idea what they're on about, the other paragraph merely asks me to telephone between 1pm and 5:30pm Monday to Friday. Unless....

Of course, how stupid of me! My recent enquiry was the telephone call I made to South East Water in May, six months ago reporting that I thought the water meter was faulty!

I rang and was told “we have tried to contact you,” when I asked how and when, they changed the subject. I asked again, and was ignored. Apparently I have to make an appointment with the meter replacement crew since it was reported that “access is difficult.” No idea what that is for since the meter is a metre from the footpath, and anyone except the fattest of aussie tradesmen should be able to walk between the car and the fence. Then I asked if it was likely that I would have to move the car so that they could jackhammer the old meter out of the driveway, that was when the problem started ... you see it's forbidden by law to concrete it in, apparently, so along with all the other idiot things that happened to the house before we bought it, concreting the meter in was one of them.

I am now expected to un-concrete the meter and then arrange an appointment with the meter replacement crew. When I asked how, I was told it's not their problem....

So I get to jack-hammer a water meter out of a concrete slab, and if I break the water pipes I get to pay for the damages and for the emergency call out, not to mention paying for the jack-hammer!

Last week the gas meter was replaced, this week they want to do the water meter, maybe next week we'll get the trifecta and the electricity company will call....

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Tue, 16 May 2006

Bigpond, BIG PAIN! // at 23:59

Almost half an hour on the phone to Bigpond/Telstra trying (unsuccessfully) to change the billing address for my broadband connection to go to Monash.

The online form has a number of small, fixed-length fields and no conceivable abbreviation of Rm 232, Bldg 28, ITS Division, Monash University, Wellington Rd, Clayton 3800, Vic. can be made to fit in the small, fixed length fields.

The Bigpond telephone staff tried, but finally admitted that they too were confronted by "the new billing system" with its small, fixed-length, fields and could not change the address. They transferred me to Telstra, who they explained could enable "single billing" of broadband and phone service, but then split this and send the broadband to a different address!

Telstra staff reviewed "the notes attached to the account" and stated that while they could change the billing address for the phone account, they couldn't do anything about the broadband. They transferred me back to a Bigpond billing consultant.

The Bigpond billing consultant stated that I'd initially ended up with sales staff, but promised to work it out. He tried several ways, but eventually admitted that he was confronted by the same small fixed-length fields and could not make the supplied address or any variation fit.

The only other option I was presented with was to receive email bills, but these cannot be sent to any address other than my bigpond one "for security reasons". So I now have to receive my bills at my Bigpond email address, automatically forward these to my Monash email address, then manually forward them each month to the administration staff to be paid!

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Tue, 30 Oct 2001

A little bit of Bureaucracy // at 23:59

Why do organisations make it so hard to change my address?

The Winesociety: I couldn't login to their website for some reason. After calling them, it turns out that my email address had been chopped off at 28 characters. That was updated, then when I successfully logged in I found that I must provide them with my date of birth as proof that I'm over 18. The fact that they have already given me a membership seems to be irrelevant!

St George Bank: Everyone hates banks by definition. After spending 15 minutes on hold last night I gave up in disgust and called again this morning. The address change I put through a month ago, together with the phone-access number, appears to have vanished. This morning I managed to get my address changed (again). I guess I just wait another month to see whether it worked this time.

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Sat, 18 Aug 2001

Nobody Home // at 23:59

Jo telephoned to query how long it is likely to take to process our application and we got told the following:

  • The landlord wasn't expecting applications so soon as he didn't expect the premises to be repainted so quickly.
  • Since we've asked to move in on the 8th of September, which is "a fair delay", the application must be referred to the landlord.
  • The landlord is interstate and the application can't be processed until he returns.

Now to me it looks like some of them are mutually exclusive, but I'm no real-estate agent, so I guess we have to wait. Surely if they weren't expecting the premises to be ready until September, the fact that we want to move in then should be acceptable?

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