The only people it’ll affect are the poor and hopeless, and who cares about them?

Andy Blume runs afoul of Sheriff’s Office incompetence, after they set a date for fines to be paid without the obscene add-on costs the various agencies add, and then utterly fail to adequately staff the line so people can have a reasonable chance to take part in the arrangement –

So, wanting to find out if I did actually have any unpaid fines outstanding, the nature of such and if I could take advantage of the waiver offer, I called the number.

Constantly. For two days straight.

Each time I was told by some pre-recorded [person] to [go away] as they were no longer accepting telephone calls regarding the matter. The only option available was to leave a message on their voicemail service and request a call back – however there was no actual guarantee that you’d receive a follow-up before the fee waiver period ended. If that wasn’t appropriate to your situation, the only other option was to [go away] and work out your options on your own.

This sort of thing is remarkably common in the government agencies (and corporate entities) dealing with people struggling to manage debt and other payments. To those of us who can make ends meet, it looks like everyone’s bending over backwards to help, so why should we be sympathetic that they’re still in a mess? The reality is that at every step of the way they find frustrating, seemingly penetrable barriers like the ones Andy came across. Just because there’s a number to call doesn’t mean anyone’s on the other end…

It ends up costing the rest of us more money than if it had just been done competently in the first place. We waste more public dollars chasing these debts and they become less likely to ever be actually paid.

But who other than the least-organised and least-engaged people in the community will notice? And they’re not likely to do anything about it.

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3 responses to “The only people it’ll affect are the poor and hopeless, and who cares about them?

  1. To be fair I don’t think there was much incompetence at the hands of the Sheriff’s Office, more so with Civic Compliance Victoria who hosted the number I spoke of. Is there any separation between the two bodies, or are they mostly one and the same?

    My personal experience with the Sheriff was remarkably good, if you put aside the 10-minute wait for someone to rock up with a portable EFTPOS unit that worked. Once that problem was sorted the whole affair was handled quite efficiently.

    I think the people at the counter there were genuinely surprised that someone came in to fix up unpaid fines.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that in the instance of initial fines (and even once the penalties have been added) there is always the option of a payment plan for those in hardship. If people took up that option immediately before penalties were added on then there wouldn’t be problems to speak of.

  2. I also forgot to mention that I think that the State Goverment are a complete pack of [vaginas] for failing to implement this scheme properly.

  3. Northern Exposure

    I assume you mean inpenetrable.

    Generally the best way to get around these stupid bastards on the other end of the phone is to notify your local member. They’ll either be in power, and therefor will do anything they can to help to avoid any headlines, or they’ll be in opposition, and will use you for point scoring. Either way, it gets the job done. I’ve done it a few times, it’s great to see them get all flustered when you mention what ever the local newspapers name is, especially in dicey states where one bad headline will ruin you.

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