Functionaries do not function

Three examples of mad bureaucracy in one day is no longer amusing. How about this anyway?

1) I told the secretary of our commune I would call in at the Mairie today. Just to check the hours I looked at their website. Tuesday 09-1200, 14-1800, Friday the same hours. So, at 1400 this afternoon I set off in order to get there when they predictably opened five minutes late. Oh no though. The sign on the door says Tuesday 09-1200, Wednesday 09-1200 and Friday 09-1200 and 13-1800. So saying see you Tuesday afternoon was not corrected by her so that I did not turn up when she is not there! In fact, nobody is anyway.

2) A four page letter, plus a page of 'accounting' arrived from RSI/RAM. It runs through laws, regulations, gives reasons why and tells me how to appeal against a decision to demand a repayment of €8, 39. It is for over-claiming by the pharmacy for one medication not covered by my 100% exemption for payment for one condition because it is for something else, so that it has to be reclaimed from my complementary. In fact I do not have repay them anything because they simply stop it from the next reimbursement. So the value of the letter, its preparation and postage then the process of deducting it from my next repayment set against their bit over eight Euros is disproportionate. Loses me somehow, somewhere, errr...

3) The bill for my daughter's school lunches needed to be paid. Rather than write a cheque or go cash in hand a dozen km to the trésorerie, I went to the first of two websites, that commune's one. No dice, it would not link me to the place to pay. So I went to the second one, a address. It told me that the reference code was wrong, so I tried again. Just in case, although I already knew it would not work. You see, it happened at the beginning of the year, so I looked back over my files for the note I put in with the cheque back in March to tell them neither address for payment works. They even replied by email to tell me that it was being put right immediately and thank you very much... How long, I ask, is 'immediately'? So back to an envelope and through the mail box in passing. I'm not bothering to try to be helpful again though.

People are always grumbling about French bureaucracy, mostly French people at that, but when one gets a day like today all you can do is shake your head in disbelief.

To us it's not so much about bureaucracy, which if carried out efficiently can be quite fun - it's about errors by the fonctionnaires with no explanation/apology, lack of response to queries unless we send letters A/R - which shouldn't be necessary and the cost of which mounts up, and in some cases attitude.

And about forms which, even if your french is not bad, are unintelligible because they don't appear to have been written by someone who actually understands how to set them out clearly and in a straightforward manner. I mean, why use one sentence to tell someone what information is needed when you can use 3 paragraphs which still leave one no wiser as to what one piece of information is actually needed?

If it's any consolation Brian I went to our local Tresorerie last week on a rare trip into town to pay a bill and they were shut. It was a perfectly reasonable hour to expect them to be open. We've been before and found them shut because they're on strike. Could we organise a non-payment strike until they get their act together I Wonder.....?