Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Transformers? They Are Out There!

You know the sci-fi characters that morph from giant robots into odinary trucks and vehicles? We see them in adverts and elsewhere even if, like me, you thought you had managed to exist without them.
Well it has occurred to me that they are out there anyway, dealing with us all in local government and other large organisations. 
What put this in mind was a frantic and desperate client yesterday who had, amongst other frustrations, attempted to tangle with his local Rates people. He has a long lease on a large industrial unit which he took over less than 3 months ago. 
As a formative social enterprise he went to a senior person in the Local Authority Rates department who agreed he could get an 80% reduction subject to a bundle of forms and subsequent agreement. His separate application for a business grant from another department of the Local Authority was turned down because of £1600 rates outstanding. (This is understandable if you consider the application for a rebate is not yet finalised) In the post he received a Court Summons for a Rates Arrears of £7600. (Clearly a mistake. It probably relates to a previous occupant, or the landlord.  In any case he should have heard something before a Court Summons for non payment arrives) image by Jonund (talk)
There is plenty to be challenged here and there are ways of metaphorically thumping the desk to get a Rates Department operative to tie the strings of all this together. If you have worked in that environment, or indeed any large organisational administration, you will be able to relate to the problem. It happens. Such departmental thinking does not encourage apologies or speedy retractions. There will be no concerned letter asking for forgiveness. We all know this. It is how 'they' think. if anything there will be a presumption that the system is right and this lonely business man is some kind of renegade fighting the Big Machinery Collective. 
For my client, from a simple commercial small business background where such collective shortcomings are usually ambushed before they ever make it into print, none of it makes any sense. Official looking papers and forms and procedural language all incline him to tear his hair out in frustration. The various operations involved come from different people operating different desks and probably there are sensible explanations in defence of their actions. It all ends up on the one doormat however. The world is full of such things. 
The arrears demand from the energy company for premises with a pre paid meter is another one I have seen lately. Nothing personal, but they are out to get you! For my client me summarising a set of to do actions is a big relief. My external perspective is all he needed to calm down. Bob Shepherd Associates, a calming force in business! 

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