Friday, January 25, 2008

And They Call Them Civil Servants...Part 2

So here it is the continuing saga of my brush with the County Tax Assessors Office...

My first instinct upon opening this letter was to, well blame my husband. Okay, yeah I know so not nice to assume it was Mr. February's fault. But he was the one who went into town to write the check for the license renewal. I thought maybe he had written it out to the wrong people, hence the REFER TO MAKER statement. So I immediately picked up the phone to call him at work while I sat in the Post Office parking lot. He answered his phone and was as perplexed as I was about the whole thing. He got online looked at our banking account and saw that this check never went through our bank. There was no sign of it. Strange. I quickly hung up and called my bank determined to get to the bottom of this.

Do you get to talk to real live people on the phone at your bank? I might be able to after running through a maze of press 1 now, now press 2, now press 1 again, do the hokey poky and turn yourself around etc. Then I get put on hold for an indefinite amount of time waiting for a breathing being to actually pick up and help me. Today I was not about to go through these hoops so after a call and being put on hold I drove to my nearest banking office. Little One was getting antsy and I needed to get this solved quickly.

Advice #3: Don't ever think that you can get things solved quickly, especially when banks and government agencies are involved.

On the drive over to bank I call the tax office. Talk to a lovely lady named Suzie. I tell her about the letter and she asks, "What does refer to maker mean?" I tell her I was hoping she could tell me since it came from her office. She sweetly told me that the guy who handles this paperwork was gone today and she would have to try to find it. Didn't my bank know anything, she asked. I told her I was working on it and would call her back. At my bank the nice clerk behind the counter tried to help, since the bank officers were busy. She said the check never got to them. That "refer to maker" can mean many things. She thought maybe my check got piggybacked (sounds like fun doesn't it) onto someone else's and therefore never reached it's destination. Who knew checks could have such adventures!
Back to the car with now fussy baby. As I sit in the bank parking lot I nurse Little One as I call Suzie back. Okay, now at this point I naively assumed the tax office would now pick up the slack and investigate things from their end a little. Yes, yes I know WHAT was I thinking? Sweet Suzie tells me she found the paperwork and a photocopy of my check. It has a competitors bank's stamp on it but not mine. Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere. Again naive me thinks this is the proof it never made it to my bank. Suzie informs me that her supervisor Lisa told her I would need to get a letter from the bank stating the check never came through. So back into the bank I go. I wait for an officer, tell her the situation and wait patiently as she calls the same number I did for my bank's customer service line and we sit for ten minutes on hold. Really, I swear. My bank officers have to call the same number I do to try to get help, now doesn't that beat all! Anyway, they say the same thing, never saw the check. Now I have to get a copy of the copy to my bank in order for them to determine what happened to be able to write a letter. I'm beginning to feel as if I'm playing some never ending game of duck, duck, goose.
Back out to the car. Call Suzie. At this point she tells me that Lisa says the stamp on the check is from their bank and all their checks go there so that doesn't prove a thing! Please fax check to bank. "I'm not sure I can do that. I will have to ask Lisa and she is out to lunch." (later I will surmise that Lisa is always out to lunch even when she is at her office.) Okay, Suzie here is my number you call me if it can't be faxed and I will drive across town and pick it up myself.
At 4:40 I get a call from the bank. (This is a good 4 hours later) They got the fax and the encryption number that their bank put on my check was one number off, therefore sending my check to some random account to collect payment. So my bank and account never saw this naughty little, adventure seeking check!
I have to pause here and tell you that this other bank is well known to me. My husband's grandmother has banked there for probably half a century, and now his mother does, and all three of our girls have a trust set up at this bank. They are good people and I'm sure if the tax office at this point would have called them to see if what I said happened to the check was what happened they would have verified it and quickly taken responsibility. Ahh, but then what would we do with all that red tape! I've come up with a few ideas, but this is a family site and I shall not share the details....

I ask my bank to type up a letter for me so I can pick it up tomorrow and take to the tax assessor's office. And guess what? The lady I'm working with won't be there tomorrow but she promised her boss would have the letter ready for me. Just call in the morning, because yes, her supervisor was not there at the moment. I immediatly call tax office tell Suzie about encryption problem, giving them yet another opportunity to call their bank for verification. Instead she tells me I still need the letter and cash or cashiers check. At this point my composure begins to slip a little. But it wasn't my fault, my checks are not bad, now you want me to go out of my way to get cashier's check?!1 She asks if I would like to speak to Lisa. Well,yes that would be nice! She puts me on hold, not the press a button hold, but the hold where I can hear her whispering to Lisa. Yes, she''ll bring a letter.. yes, yes, okay...silence...wait a few more minutes...Suzie comes back on the line to inform me that I need to bring cash and letter. Lisa can't even get on the phone and talk to me herself. Composure slips another notch and I unleash on poor Suzie. She stammers, buuutttt it's not our fault it's between the banks. Deep breath, yes Suzie but it's not my fault either. I thank you for your help, I know you've done all you can do but rest assured I will be speaking with your bank and with Lisa tomorrow. So you tell me when whoever I need to speak too to get this improved will be there tomorrow because I will not make more than one trip to your office...

advice #4 Never assume that people in supervisor roles will step up and take responsibiblity or for that matter even care. Some do, but most are out to lunch.

I hate to do this to you, but the next day's experiences need to be relished, digested, taken in and pondered so this will have to be concluded tomorrow. Can you imagine what I encounter at my bank the next day? What happens when I finally come face to face with Lisa? Do I ever get to speak to my elected official, l the tax assessor?


Pat's Place said...

The grandmother's bank went to bat for her recently in a similar incident. One call from her daughter set things in motion. The bank did all the work, made all the calls, straightened things out, called to let her daughter know, and the grandmother sat quietly in her room crocheting--no fuss, no bother. Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

Great Story! I can hardly wait to hear the next part. Does it get better??

Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

Isn't that the way it always goes? No one would take responsibility for our baby's lost records either. The lady who was at the end of the "pass the buck" trail said, "I was on vacation that week."