Monday, March 21, 2011

Equal Opportunity Aggravation

This is a blog born of frustration. I've been talking in circles with people who lack any form of communication skills all month. Incidentally their entire profession relies on having communication skills. How did they get these jobs to begin with, and how have they managed to keep them?

Here's what happened...

I sent in an application for benefits on February 28th, 2011 with a disclaimer that I'm unable to make interviews outside of the home due to disability and no means of transportation. On March 1st, 2011 I receive a letter notifying me that I'm scheduled for a face-to-face interview at their offices in Who-Knows-Where, CA. I call the included number and here is the conversation I have:

I say, "Hello, I'm _______. I recently sent in an application for benefits and am scheduled to make an interview on the 7th. I cannot make interviews."
The woman, who sounds as though she despises her career retorts, "Okay, call back when you can make the interview."
I manage to interject before she hangs up on me, "No, no. It's not that I cannot make this interview. It's that I cannot make interviews outside of the home whatsoever. I have no means of transportation."
To which she replies, "Oh, well call this number." Rambles off the number without an area code and hangs up on me, giving me no chance to verify if I'd gotten it down correctly.

As a deaf person verifying I got it down correctly is pretty important. Regardless, I make a guess at the area code, based on the location the interview was supposed to have taken place, and make the call. I'm greeted by an answering machine explaining that this woman is out of the office, daily, from 8AM to 12PM and from 1PM to 4PM, after which time she is closed.

Who the hell works a 1 hour day? Can I have that job? ffs. So I leave a message on March 1, 2011 telling of my situation and to call me at her earliest convenience. A week goes by, no word. So on March 9, 2011 I call her again and leave another message, reminding her that I only have a 30 day window with which to get this sorted out before I have to begin the process anew.

On March 14, 2011 she finally calls me back and leaves a voice mail stating I should call her back. Are you kidding me? So I camp the clock all day making sure the 1 hour window in which this lady is available doesn't escape me and make the call. Our conversation went something like this:

I start, "Hello, this is ______. I called about my inability to make a face-to-face interview outside of the home due to disability and a lack of transportation."
She says, "Are you in a wheel chair?"
I boggle, "No."
She then states, "Well, I only perform home interviews for people in wheel chairs. You can call for a phone interview though." And she gives me a third number to call.

By this point I'm already fairly frustrated but I'm intent on getting this sorted out so I call the number she'd given me. After 12 or so automated messages guiding me to where I may want to be by button pushing the closest option to what I'm actually calling about, I'm put on hold. I remain on hold for so long that the office closes and I get dumped to voice mail.

Now I'm seething. I leave my contact information with this number and call it a day. The weekend comes and goes with no contact. So today, I call them again. Early in the afternoon, but after lunch hour because who knows what happens when you get put on hold in that place. I once again navigate my way through the 12 automated menus by button pushing and get a real live human. Here's our conversation:

I begin, again, "Hello, this is ______. I'm calling about getting an interview for my benefits."
The woman retorts, "It says here you missed your interview."
Which, as you recall I very clearly canceled however many fail-phone calls up, "I canceled that on the 1st..."
She says, "Oh, well, do you need to reschedule?"
Does no one in the forsaken place talk to each other!? I take a deep breath and reply, "Sort of. I cannot make a face-to-face interview out of the home. I was told to call and set up a phone interview."
She states, "This is an initial interview, you have to do that face-to-face."
Reeling by this point, I say, "I cannot make a face-to-face interview outside of the home. I have no means of transportation..."
She interrupts me with, "Well then your application will expire."
Excuse me? What? You answer phones for a living, get off your high horse lady. But I respond with, "Uh... Is there a way for me to get a home interview?" Because I already know that's an option from the previous worthless phone calls.
"Not unless you're disabled."
I face-palm, "I am disabled. That's why I get benefits."
She snips, "You don't currently get benefits."
I almost drop the phone so that I can face-palm with both hands, "I recently moved. I got benefits in another state." All of this should #$%&ing be on file!
She questions, in disbelief, "You're federally disabled?"
For the love of... "Yes," I sigh.
"Can you prove it?"
It now sounds like she's been defeated by some sort of rival, "Well let me forward your information to the home visit department then."

What is with these ridiculous people? There is so much communication fail happening in each of these conversations that I really cannot understand how they get anything done, ever. Their entire professional worth is the ability to take notes and answer phone calls, but they cannot even seem to do that. The very first person I talked to failed to cancel my appointment. The second person had no idea that disabilities extend beyond 'in a wheel chair' and that as an initial interview I couldn't do it by phone. The last lady was going to just let my application expire rather than do her job.

Don't even get me started on the fact that I needlessly repeated myself in every conversation. The very first woman should have put my information on file. If not her, the second employee should have corrected the over-sight and put my information on file. I bet not even the third woman did so. Whenever home visit lady deigns to return my call (took 2 weeks last time) it'll be like I've never spoken to any of them before. Like this is all some bad Twilight Zone rerun.

All I want to do is get this over with, but it's like being caught in some time loop that gets progressively more annoying as it goes on. To make matters worse I began this process in February and only have until the fast approaching end of March before I have to literally start it all over again. It's almost like they're just stalling on purpose.

Update: The woman who 'forwarded' my information to home interviewee never actually forwarded any information. I waited around for another week before having to call myself and was met by a completely oblivious correspondent. A week after that I finally just had to request another face-to-face interview, since by then we had a car.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe they think if it's obnoxious enough, people will give up and stop trying. Just think how much money the state saves because people are too frustrated to keep calling.