Friday, February 22, 2013

Public Servants - not

Rant against what our government has become - local edition.

I pay just about all my bills online and earlier this month attempted to pay my local real estate taxes. I do this four times per year without incident but apparently I missed hitting the final button to actually submit the payment. You know the kind of website that says "hit this button" and you do but then it gives you one more screen and in tiny letters says you have to hit the other button?   How many of you fall victim to that?

So after a few days of not seeing the payment in the bank account, I look at the website. It says payment rejected with date, time and amount. They knew I tried.

I call the town and they said a lot of people do that. Red flag! If a lot of people do that shouldn't they change it? After all, it is supposed to cut out calls like the one I made. But no, this is public service and if it ain't broke, sort of, then don't touch it.

I plead my case saying I always do this and while I cannot confirm I made no mistake I show how I have been doing this successfully for years.

"Sorry, you have to pay a late fee. "

"OK, can't you waive it? You have proof I actually tried, in good faith, to pay on time. And if so many people have problems then the website is unclear."

"Sorry, it is a state law that we cannot waive fees."

"Excuse me? A state law dictating to the town what the town has to charge for town taxes?

Yes, it is a law.

OK, can you tell me what that law is so I can see it?

I do not know (she was only a clerk, not a boss or lawyer). I will have someone call you.

Yeah right, I thought. Two days later, I call back.The same person answered and was very nice. She said she checked with the deputy receiver of taxes who said, and I quote, "We do not have to tell you what the law is."

My jaw dropped.

"Are you kidding? Do you know how this sounds?"

True, you do not have to tell me but isn't that sort of what customer service is all about?  You do not have to flush to toilet either but it is the right thing to do.

She apologized and I told here I would not bother her any more.

Needless to say, I am now going to contact a few real estate lawyer friends of mine.

1 - why is the state telling the town what to do?
2 - what is the big deal to tell me what the law is or at least how to find out?

I am not going into the "I pay your salary" rant because that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the attitude that government does not have to answer to the people. My cable company pulled a stunt like that on me and I switched to a different provider. Not so many options in a government monopoly.


patrick neid said...

Multiply that on millions of transactions nationwide and we have the current state of affairs. Meanwhile the manager and clerk are confident in their pensions.

Robert Sievers said...

Maybe you should tell them that you don't have to pay your taxes, because there is a state law exempting you from doing so. When they ask what law that is, tell them that you are not required to direct them to the specific law.

Michael Kahn said...

Now that is an idea.

Here is another - write on your check for some lower amount that cashing this check confirms that it is payment in full and no further monies are due.

Why not? All sorts of companies do it. Deposting this check constitutes agreement to a contract for monthly blah, blah, blah

Anonymous said...

And they wonder why people lose it? It is just a matter of time before 'losing it' becomes a national wave phenomenon.

Wait until people open their windows and start shouting, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!' Or stopping their cars on the freeway and honking at rush hour. Or changing their withholdings allowances to 25 to cut off the flow of funds to the states and fed.