Yesterday I ranted about the challenge posed to me attempting to do something as simple as having my name added to our household electricity bill since I desperately need some proofs of address. I won’t rehash the details because it’s all here in this blog entry:
Having explicitly asked yesterday’s call centre person what I had to do in order to have my identity verified by the electricity company, I verily sent my husband off into the city this morning with my SSN, my passport and my UK driving licence. The electricity company’s office is on the same street my husband works on so we deemed this to be the most efficient approach. Mr Pict arrived there bright and early and explained the scenario. The member of staff there looked up our account information and found there was no record of yesterday’s phone conversation or request so Mr Pict was informed that they could not comply with the request to verify my ID since there was no record of the first stage of verification, namely his authorisation of me to be added to the account and my providing permission to be added to the account plus all of my basic details. Great. So he was told to get me to phone the customer services line again and ask for the note to be placed on the account.
So I phoned up and explained the situation and was immediately put on hold. And I was on hold for a while. Long enough to multi-task getting my youngest ready for nursery, emptying and loading the dishwasher, clearing the breakfast table and putting our outdoor coats and shoes on all while having the phone gripped between my neck and shoulder so I could hear when the call centre person came back on the line. Also long enough to hear everything I ever wanted to know about the electricity company several times over. Finally she came back on the line. This is how the conversation proceeded:
Her: There is now a note on your account stating that your husband made a request to amend the billing details this morning.
Me: OK but is there also a note stating that you have spoken to me and have gained my permission to be added to the bill?
Her: I will do that for you now, ma’am. However, I cannot include a note making reference to verification of your identity at this time.
Me: Even though I went through all of that with the man I spoke to yesterday and it appears he just failed to enter a note about it on the system?
Her: Did you provide your social security number when you spoke to my colleague yesterday?
Her: And your driver’s licence was verified also?
Me: No. I don’t yet have a US driver’s licence. I arrived in the country in October. I was told yesterday that I could submit my passport and UK driving licence, which is also a photo ID, in order to have my identity confirmed. So can you make a note of this conversation now in the account records?
Her: Let me just go speak to my colleague, ma’am.
And then I was back on hold for a while longer. Meanwhile, of course, Mr Pict is still in the company’s branch in Philly as they await the note from customer services appearing on the account details. Also meanwhile ensuring that my youngest child is definitely going to be late for preschool.
Her: It seems you were given some incorrect advice yesterday. Both your husband and yourself would have to be there in person to have your identification verified. Is it possible for you to do that?
Me: Only with great difficulty and inconvenience. The staff in the branch in Philadelphia that my husband just spoke to seem to think they can verify my ID as soon as the note appears on the system so can you just ensure that note is present, please?
Her: I have entered a note as requested. Is there anything else I can do for you today, ma’am?
Me: Nope. Thank you. (Through gritted teeth.)
So I then quickly phoned Mr Pict and explained the whole mess to him while dragging our youngest son along the street at full tilt to ensure he actually made it to preschool before the session ended. He then had some to and fro and a lot more queuing to do while the people in the city branch waited for the note to appear. And waited. It never did appear. Again. Mercifully, however, because my husband is super-likeable, someone there took pity on him and decided to override their pitifully stupid system and verify my identification documents. Job done – in as half-arsed manner as possible.
That was this morning’s stress. This afternoon’s stress was communication from my husband regarding our bank card. Our bank had been in touch with him to inform him that our card was one of those caught up in Target’s security breach so they were having to void our debit cards and issue new ones. Thankfully there had been no fraudulent spending on our card so we don’t have to deal with any of that but it still means up to five days without any means of paying for anything or withdrawing cash. Great.
And now I get to fill out an insurance claim for all the broken and missing items from our shipping consignment.
What a great day this is turning out to be. I need a do-over.
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Take a deep breath–it doesn’t get any better.
Indeed. This is an older post of mine. I’m learning the hard way about American bureaucracy. Currently I’m trying to figure out laws pertaining to education and navigate the labyrinthine system that is medical insurance.
Education and medical insurance. Ah, I see you came at a good time when both are highly politicized and contentious issues. So, after you figure them out in their current state, please figure out citizenship and voting so that you can become an educated voter in our U.S. democracy. We need you.
I absolutely need to get on top of the citizenship thing so that I can vote. This election as a disenfranchised resident of the US is so incredibly frustrating. If it was not for the fact that I have a whole bunch of other stuff going on that I need to deal with (including researching Civil Rights legislation) then I would be moving forward with that already. Once I get a few other things settled down, however, it is definitely a process I will be embarking on. I can only handle the stress of so much bureaucracy at once unfortunately.
I hear you sister. Amen.
PS Thanks for visiting and commenting!
I’ll be back.
(a quote from our ex-governator—BTW: movie stars should not govern)
I missed this post. Glad to catch it here, thanks to Ellen. ☺
Thanks, Van. It was one of my early posts so really you didn’t miss it. 😀