The world is setting out to make the average Joe/Joanne feel like they are going insane. I swear to all the gods and goddesses out there to whom a proportion of the worlds societies pray. They aim to drive us to prozac*
I’ve been watching the world and its governance slowly spiral into chaos and disarray through the ‘leading’ by career politicians and corporate fat cats.
Closer to home I watch the immorality and dispassion of our controlling systems fail the majority on every turn. The more I watch it the more I liken it to gaslighting.
Watching films like I Daniel Blake (yes I know it’s not a real story only a story based on documented realities); having worked in corporate life trying to fit the profit-led companies delivering government schemes into the real world and try to demonstrably help real people whilst meeting targets by manipulating the systems to claim the government is doing its job; having been on the real person end of many phones being gaslit by these public sector and public sector funded robots; I realise that is exactly what is happening in our towns, cities, villages, communities. We are being drip fed nonsense at such a rate that we are getting beyond fighting against , we are instead thinking it is us that are going insane.
Here’s one of about seven instances I am personally trying to navigate at the moment to demonstrate my point.
I own a flat in Southend which has been a negative equity millstone around my neck for the entire 15 years I’ve owned it. I’ve been trying to sell it since March but finally the tenant moved out Mid October and suddenly the agent (who also let it) managed to find a buyer. Anyway the sale is no chain in either direction. Flat empty, I live in Wales, buyer is buying to let. Easy peasy. Of course the solicitors take forever, add in Christmas and New Year where they seemingly stop doing anything for some weeks, this no chain sale should be wrapped up but it carries on. Hopefully, although I was assuming completion in December there will be completion in January. I will walk away with not quite enough cash to clear my overdraft and not nearly as much cash as I have lost in the 15 year disaster, but that was my choice to buy, and markets fluctuate, so I accept that as bad luck and am happy to move on after it and never deal with Southend again (apart from the fact that most the family live in that area so I guess I will have to visit once in a while)
Anyway. back to the point. The council tax for the flat obviously got transferred to me. No worries thought I , the sale will go through and I’ll owe a month or two. I phoned 23rd November, explained that I had no money until the sale went through but that I was expecting the sale to hopefully go through Dec/Jan and they said it was fine, keep them informed . Next day I get a letter saying I owe money (1 months council tax) but I assume the letter has crossed my call in the post. Christmas creeps up, I’ve heard no more. not regarding the sale, not regarding the council tax. I did try to phone the council a couple of times out of courtesy but after being on hold for 10 minutes or so (to a standard rate number), gave up. I didn’t think any more of it. I’d spoken to them, it was documented.
4th January I receive a court summons. Failure to pay I must now pay in full £600+ plus costs or turn up to a hearing in Southend on 23rd January!!!!!!
I panic and bash out an email which quite frankly reads like I’m a woman on the edge , and to be honest, I pretty much am. At the moment I feel like every simple thing is a battle against incompetence and for common sense. I’ve been fighting several other battles with various other ‘service’ providers (I use the work fight because, yes it feels like it), just one is with my car insurance company about an incident which happened in June (7 months ago!) relating to an accident where the other party accepted full liability and am yet to secure an outcome….. calls , emails, assessors, escalated complaints, copying in CEOs, every bloody thing is a battle. Customer service doesn’t exist, …the fact that every ‘service’ company has a fully manned ESCALATED complaints department proves this. Anyway here is my unhinged email..
Dear council tax team…and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU TOOThank you for the summons letter received today 5th January 2019, in response to a letter from you dated 21st November 2018 which I assume had crossed in the post because I rang your office on 23rd November before receiving it and explained to your team that my tenant had moved out on 14th October after spending 6 months refusing to allow access to the property to prospective buyers. However, as soon as she moved out I received an offer on the flat, with no chain and was expecting the sale to go through quickly and smoothly. It was agreed in that call that I could settle the balance of council tax as part of the sale completion which would be going through (I had hoped December) but it now seems certain for some time in January.I live in Wales so cannot attend court on in Southend on 23rd January and feel upset and aggrieved that I am being threatened and harassed with costs of £65 and potential additional charges of £95 when I was open, honest and prompt in calling you once the flat was unoccupied and I received the first bill.I am hoping this is a mistake on your part – please listen back to your recorded calls of 23rd november (I’m sorry, I did not note the time of the call).As I do not have a tenant and therefore do not have any rental income but am still paying the mortgage, regular fees to Brown and Co Solicitors for various erroneous searches and reports from the agent (PACE), I am currently in financial dire straits with all cards maxed out and no cash. As if this is not making me feel sick enough, you are now threatening me with court action despite our agreement.I am financially unable to make a holding payment at present but will have the necessary funds, as promised, on completion in the very near future.PLEASE CAN YOU CHECK YOU RECORDS AND CONFIRM THAT i CAN STILL WAIT UNTIL THE SALE COMPLETION TO PAY MY BALANCE WITHOUT PENALTY OR EXPLAIN WHY YOU CHANGED YOUR MINDS WITHOUT INFORMING ME AND SIMPLY ELECTING TO MAKE ME A CRIMINALWhat a horrible way to start my yearI hope to hear back from you promptly on Monday to alleviate my concerns
I’m in a state, I’ve never been criminalised before, I thought I’d done the right thing, the response back is automated saying they take up to 10 working days to respond. I try to call, it’s a never-ending automated queue. I give up. I try to find contact details for the Justice Area to message or phone them. Their only option is a pay the bill number.
I’ve already explained I can’t pay the first amount until the flat is sold and now I’m being asked for 4x that plus charges plus further charges if I fail to pay what I already can’t pay. I’m apaplectic
I wait the weekend and phone again…
… and this is where it dawns on me that the whole system is corporate gas lighting. The way they talk to you. In this ever so softly-softly, slightly condescending tone like you are losing it and they are trying to make you see sense (even when you have at least started off rationally); the way they use what I can only describe as sales training to side step all your comments and pass over them as ‘non-issues’; the way they tongue tie you into knots and then re-hash a word or phrase you’ve used, out of context, to demonstrate that it is actually all your on fault in the first place; the way they keep ever so softly reiterating that you have to pay otherwise there will be additional costs even when you are telling them you physically cannot do it; the way they tell you to ‘calm down’ to perhaps ‘take a minute’.
And then of course I really did start to lose it. I really am now that mentally unbalanced, irrational, payment avoiding criminal they knew I was. I’m sobbing and screaming and swearing down the phone. There. They’ve proved their point. I’m imbalanced, I’ve deliberately kept them uninformed. ‘They are only following procedure, there’s no need for me to be so aggressive and unreasonable. Had I just phoned them to keep them updated as I’d said I would, I would not have got myself into this mess; it’s clearly of my own making…..
I’m hyperventilating and having a panic attack. I hang up. I’m enraged with frustration at not being listened to, at the injustice, at the deliberating misdirection. But now I’m in the wrong because I’ve sworn at their operative. I didn’t call them in a timely fashion as i promised to do, they were open on 31st December, why hadn’t I called them then to say the sale hadn’t gone through yet? My fault. Charges and all.
And that’s it folks, every time you deal with a local injustice; a personal claim against your gas, electric, phone, insurance supplier; the tax man (did you know if they only can only find half of the tax return you sent in , have a photocopy of and a postal receipt for, its your fault for not sending it and they will charge you £100 for their loss of it)….I digress again; it’s a bloody battle in the hope that you as an individual will back down and give up. Just pay. Pay the excess fees, take the increased terms, pay to get your own car fixed. Whatever it is Everything is a bloody battle. AND IT SHOULDN’T BE THAT WAY
*other mind-numbing drugs are available