Anyway, on with this week's assignment. Karen asks:
Weekend Assignment: #277: We've all become used to automated phone routers ("To continue in English, press 1"), long waits at government offices and other bureaucratic obstacles to getting something done. Have you any particular horror stories along these lines, or have you had mostly good experiences with government agencies?
Actually, mine haven't been too bad. It's very surprising since most of my phone dealings with government agencies were tax related. Those are never good. I get nervous just thinking about taxes and the IRS. (They are reading this now, aren't they? Crap.)
Anyway, a couple of years ago when I had our taxes done, the person preparing them asked if we wanted to file electronically. I said yes thinking we'd get our measly refund back quicker. So, when we got our packet of materials in the mail I opened them, gave them a quick once over, and put them to the side. My brother, as he usually does, called when he got his refund and asked if we had ours. We didn't, but I didn't think too much about it. Until it was about April 13th, or so, when I thought we should really have gotten the money since we filed so early.
So, I called the IRS to check on our filing. I was nervous just dialing them up. I was afraid I'd trigger some kind of audit by calling them. (Ha Ha! No need to audit, if you are still reading. Everything is cool here!) Surprisingly, I got a gentleman on the phone pretty quickly and he informed me that, no, we had nothing on file. That's when I decided to look more closely at the papers we had received about 6 weeks before that and noticed we had to send everything in. We still got our money, but not as early as we would have liked. At least the guy on the phone was nice.
This year was a little different. We tried to file our state return electronically ourselves but we needed a PIN number for some reason. Since we have someone else do our taxes usually, we had no PIN. And since I was being the typical me and waiting until the second-to-last day, when I tried to call the number I got the, "We are experiencing and unusually high call rate. Please try again later." Yeah, right. I ended up mailing it in. I did notice a short blurb in the local people about people not able to get through. They said they were overloaded by an unexpected number of calls. Really? How can it be unexpected at tax time? Everyone waits until the last day, surely they understand that! (This is a state matter, nothing to do with the national IRS system. No siree!)
The only other thing I have learned over time is to not wait until the day before you need to have a new village sticker on your car to go buy them. That was a long line!
Extra Credit: Does this problem seem to be getting better or worse?
Well, it seems it isn't getting any better. Maybe not worse though.