It was enough to turn a liberal into a conservative. I just had an experience with government bureaucracy that made me wonder if the antigovernment positions of those Libertarians and Republicans might have some validity.
A glitch in time …
My desktop computer has been plagued with a few glitches that, while not critical to its operation, are vexing, and at times leave me helpless to make needed linkages. So when I saw a bargain offer for a computer tune-up on Angie’s List, I contacted the business. The cost of coming to my home to perform the service was $64. Two gentlemen from the business arrived, and I asked if the glitches could be fixed as part of the service. They assured me it could, and went through some procedures after running scans that were supposed to have showed a lot of malware, which they removed. Then they worked on the glitches, and said they had been eliminated.
After they left, I found the glitches remained, and another one had popped up. They returned, and said they’d have to take my computer with them for two or three days. “It will cost a little bit more, but not much,” the guy said. A week later, they returned with the computer, and showed how the one glitch (email opening to only a partial screen) had been fixed. We couldn’t test the problem of links on emails and websites occasionally failing to connect when clicked, because these events occurred randomly. But they’d solved the new problem of text scrambling while I typed messages in Facebook. The fee? $99 – just a little more than the original $64. But I paid without complaining.
They left again, and the original two problems repeated, so I called. Gee, the guy said, it was working for them. Yeah, strange. Maybe the electricity in my lines has a clot like the one in my leg that I’m treating. I told him I’d now have to take it to another shop and spend more money. He told me nobody else could fix it. I asked why he charged me $99 if it couldn’t be fixed. He was out of town and would call me a week later. But he didn’t, and I left him several phone messages over the next few days, finally mentioning that I’d have to file a complaint with the appropriate government agencies. Suddenly he returned my call, yelling: “How dare you threaten me? We did what we were supposed to …”
You ungrateful @#%!&*
Click. I hung up. A few minutes later, I called back and left a message that I’d be perfectly willing to talk to him if he spoke in a calm, reasonable manner. A reversal of roles for yours truly, not known for patience and a mild disposition in dealing with cheats and scoundrels. He never returned the call.
Now is when the aforementioned government bureaucracy enters the picture. I call the consumer agency in Broward County, where the two men (brothers, I’m almost certain) have their business. Their phone number, but no address, is on their business card and website. The clerk asks for the address, and I say none is shown. “Then we can’t do anything about it.”
Huh? You have the phone number. Can’t you call him? Oh no no, we couldn’t do that. Why? We just don’t do it.
Not my problem, mon.
Ahem. On to the next agency, the Broward office for occupational licenses. The clerk looks up the business to see if it has the required license. It doesn’t. However, “We can’t help you if you don’t have an address.” But you have the phone number. This outfit is in violation of the law. Aren’t you even going to call? No, we can’t do that. Why? It’s not the way we operate.
Now my voice and blood pressure are rising in tandem. “You’re telling me that a guy is violating the law, and you don’t even care enough to make a simple phone call? What in the #%*&^@ is wrong with this picture?” Sorry, without an address, there’s nothing we can do.
This is insanity. I’m in disbelief. I call the Palm Beach County office for occupational licenses. Yes, the clerk says, they’re supposed to have a license if they’re doing business in the county – but they don’t have one. Same scenario: The office can’t go after the outfit if I don’t have an address. A phone number won’t suffice. But you people are the ones charged with enforcing your own ordinances. What good are they if you’re so lax about them that you’re unwilling to pick up the phone and call? Sorry; we can’t do anything about it. Can’t? I say. You just don’t give a damn.
Now, businesses I used to complain to would jump on my use of the word damn and accuse me of using profanity as an excuse to refuse any further deliberations, charging that I was being vulgar and profane and out of bounds and just a terrible person in general. They can’t do that anymore, what with damn and hell proliferating these days on TV and radio.
Okay, next stop, Florida attorney general’s office. Here we go again. If you don’t have an address, we can’t go after this business. OMG, et tu Brute? Ma’am, I’ve been through this several times already. Are you people at the state level just as inept and rigid as the local yokels are? I tell the clerk that I will call the United States attorney general’s office. A cheerful, “Okay.” That tells me something: She knows the federal level operates the same way.
But I call, and am transferred to one number, then another, with whom I’m supposed to leave a message, which, if it ever is returned, will give me the same senseless excuse for failure to fulfill its responsibilities as the local and state governmental organizations have rendered.
Folks, this is bureaucracy at its worst: government employees so imprisoned by the boundaries of their modes of operation that, when a situation outside those limits arises, they are helpless to respond. They are automatons. We might as well program robots to perform their duties, and save a lot of money.
Epilogue: I called Angie’s List, and was guided to its website, where the computer service’s address was listed. You want to know the name of this outfit? PROTek Computer Services, 6511 Nova Dr. Suite 186, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317.
Let’s see what excuses the government agencies offer now for getting out of doing what they’re paid to do: assist someone who pays taxes for that assistance.