Tuesday, April 07, 2009

(Not the greatest) customer service at WINZ

So March wasn't a great month, work-wise.

January and February I was going gangbusters - heaps and heaps of work on, and some weeks I was actually doing two jobs at the same time - one project during the day and a different project in the evenings. It was good - and I figured I needed to accept as much work as I could handle, because you never know when it's all going to dry up.

And in March it (almost all) dried up. Thank goodness for Matthew at Badger Communications who kept me out of trouble for at least some of the time, building 64 Flash banner ads for Expedia in Oz.

In addition to getting so bored I thought I was going to go MENTAL, I spent a good deal of time updating my (already up-to-date) website CV, endlessly reviewing TradeMe Jobs, Seek and NZ Govt jobs (and even applying for some) - and sorting out my Australian Business Number so that I can do telecommuting work with companies in Oz.

Absolutely no luck there so far - I don't even think the Australian recruitment agents are bothering to put my CV forward, which is a total bummer cos I could do all the contracts I'm applying for standing on my head with my eyes shut, but there you go. Nothing ventured, and all that. Maybe it will be easier now I actually have my ABN. We shall see.

As a result of all this non-job-getting I got a little freaked out and started worrying I would never find work ever again. Silly I know, but when you're looking at the same job site over and over and the only jobs you can find to do are ones in another country where they won't even look at your CV, it does get a little dispiriting.

I finally decided last week that I should swallow my pride and look into signing on for unemployment benefit. I have never ever done this in New Zealand before - I've never needed to - but I figured I should be practical, face facts, and accept help from the government if and when it gets that bad.

Herewith, my experience so far... I'm not very impressed at this point, sadly...

Last week I went onto the WINZ website and found a section all about this thing called ReStart - a "package of payments and employment and job services to help if you’ve recently been made redundant from full-time work. You may also be able to get this if you're self employed and entitled to Unemployment Benefit."

Kewl! I'm both of those things - guess I should call them up and find out more...

So I did, and spoke to a very nice man who asked me all sorts of questions about my income and job prospects and outgoings and stuff - and determined that yes I would be eligible and yes I should come in for an appointment on Monday morning at 9am. Note that he said "appointment", and that the word "seminar" never passed his lips. This will be important later, dear reader.

I asked him about the list of stuff it says you have to bring to your first appointment - passport, driver's licence, 26 weeks' worth of bank statements, and a whole host of other things - should I bring all that on Monday? Oh yes, he said.

On Monday I turned up at WINZ at about 5 to 9, lugging this massive folder with all the stuff I needed to bring (as well as all the things I needed for my day's work at Optimation - hooray! I'm doing some work at Optimation this week!) and joined the queue at the front desk.

"Are you here for the blahblah seminar?" they asked. "No," I said, "I have an appointment at 9 o'clock". They looked my name up on their list and told me to take a seat. At 5 past 9 some guy came over and said "Everyone here for the blahblah seminar please come this way" - and most of the people waiting got up and headed off to the seminar. Not me of course, because I had an appointment.

You can probably guess what's coming...

Of course I was there for the seminar - I just didn't know I was there for the seminar. So I missed it.

In the 15 minutes I was waiting (before I/they figured this out) I was treated to the spectacle of the extremely bad-tempered lady at the front desk shouting at this poor Asian man (whose English wasn't great) who was late for the seminar - "No you can't go to the seminar now! You've missed 10 minutes of it and the facilitator can't be expected to wait for you to arrive - you have to be here ON TIME like EVERYBODY ELSE. No you don't have a one-on-one appointment! [aha - see I'm not the only person who made this mistake!] - it's a GROUP SEMINAR!"

Poor guy - I felt so sorry for him - how humiliating to be talked down to and shouted at like some errant schoolboy. What a welcome. Not.

Eventually a very nice smiley WINZ man came over to see why I was still waiting, and he figured out that I'd missed the seminar. Then I had to wait in line to speak to the ANGRY LADY AT THE FRONT DESK again. Fabulous.

Ahead of me in the queue was another Asian dude (whose English was also not very good) trying to explain something and asking to see someone for an appointment. He got through his whole request and was treated to "I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU JUST SAID! What do you want??? You can't just turn up here - you HAVE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT to see someone!"

Bloody hell. What's this woman got against Asian men? I imagine that he may not know you can't just turn up - I didn't know that, I just randomly called them first because the number was on the website. Plus, if his English isn't particularly sophisticated it's a lot easier to communicate in person than it is over the phone, isn't it? Anyway, eventually he got sent on his way with an appointment and it was my turn.

I was grumpy and pissed off, she was sarcastic and condescending. It was a discussion full of warmth and mutual respect. Or not.

So now I have to go back again another day - this time without my massive file full of personal info because THIS IS A GROUP SEMINAR. We get told our rights and responsibilities, then apparently we get a massive pack of forms to fill in, then if we're lucky we might be able to book an appointment and THEN we might be allowed to sign on. Whooppee! Welcome to your friendly and supportive government agency!

As a self-employed person I think I can sign on and then if I get work I just have to tell them and then I don't get any benefit that week, but if I didn't find any work, then I get my benefit. I think. I haven't found that out yet. Because I missed the seminar :)

Afterwards I staggered under my load of personal info down to Optimation and it was so heavy I pulled something in my back and had to go see my lovely acupuncturist John Xu to get it readjusted. Fantastic.

I HATE not working. It really does my head in.

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webweaver said...

Note for "Anonymous". I have now removed all the other comments, as you can see. I removed the ones with your name on a very long time ago, so unless the page was cached on your computer, I can't understand where your name would still be appearing.

Try clearing your cache if you haven't done so already and see if your name disappears. It's certainly not there on my version of this page.

Let me know if this still doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks heaps. I just did a search on my name and it's still registering with this page... Sorry to be a pain! (just so you know, I used to be tech support and I'm using a different computer now too) Thanks for your help and patience lol

webweaver said...

Hi Anonymous

Let me re-iterate once again, as you can see, I have (long ago) removed all the comments on this item - they are no longer part of the website.

As far as I know, any Google search results that come up linking your name and my website will be as a result of the Google cache, not my site. If you'd like to tell me your name I can double-check this (I won't publish your name, obviously).

Do you still see your comment on this web page when you click on the google search results link?