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candoo
20th Mar 2018, 20:53
Why oh why are government on-line services so bloody complicated and often written in such a way that bamboozles as well as being some of the most unuser friendly sites imaginable.

Recently I have struggled with the replacement passport procedure and today got a mail which started off and is copied as was below.

"Dear Sir,

Please find attached a letter perrson named above regarding his passport application.

If our letter is requesting original documents, new application forms, or new photographs these should be sent to us by mail using the address below.
Her Majesty’s Passport Office
Team 15 Evenings
Freemans Reach
Durham
DH1 1SL"

The first sentence led me to believe this was a scam, and the address was a bit suspect "Team 15 evenings" what's that all about? - but no it's for real, I hope they were drunk.

Next task was the HMRC pension gateway, should be called HMRC pension blocker - repeatedly got sent different access codes to my phone, none of which worked. I am none the wiser.

Next my Council Tax access required me to enter a password which - must include one capital letter, some numbers, three Greek alphabet characters, and be sure that my pet cat's name is not included - OK so I exaggerate a little.

Bring back the Royal Mail and telephone services please.

Gertrude the Wombat
20th Mar 2018, 21:05
VAT works for me. PAYE works for me (well, the routine stuff online works, anything they send me by post is a disaster). Vehicle registration works for me. Electoral registration works for me. But people don't notice the ones that Just Work.

Pontius Navigator
20th Mar 2018, 21:11
Well if you must use Durham. The Indian passport office in Peterborough is very efficient and didn't even take the payment until they despatched the passports.

Kiltrash
20th Mar 2018, 21:34
Its not just HM Government
Wife and I needed to reprint our eTA for Canada and ESTA for USA for a 2018 visit
USA Fine just passport details and sorted
Canada we needed the J number from a email they sent in 2016. Got the wife's sorted OK without the J Number but Mine kept being sent back as the info supplied did not match their records with no hint as to which was different
7 attempts gave up and just applied for a new eTA and 7CAD and10mins later a new eTA forthcoming

Give me 'someone' to actually speak with .....

Dan Gerous
20th Mar 2018, 21:54
One of my pet hates about modern life. I get the impression that they don't actually want to deal with anyone face to face anymore, and the websites are designed to grind you down so you give up, and they don't have to do anything.

Smeagol
20th Mar 2018, 21:56
Tried to 'sign up' for the Government Gateway (to access HMRC to pay UK tax) whilst living in UAE some years ago. Had to give up as they had to send the password to me but would not accept a Post Office box number as an address. Unfortunately the UAE does not have postal deliveries and everything goes to a PO box.:ugh::ugh::ugh:

MG23
20th Mar 2018, 22:32
Tried to 'sign up' for the Government Gateway (to access HMRC to pay UK tax) whilst living in UAE some years ago.

Ah, yes. They send you a password in the mail but they send it slow-boat-to-China-mail and it has to be used within 28 days. If I remember correctly, I had 24 hours left to use it by the time it got to me.

And then you discover that you can't actually do a tax return from another country that way and have to send them paper anyway.

Fortunately, after a few years of me sending them tax returns saying I owed them 0 pounds, they finally stopped bugging me to do them.

Hydromet
20th Mar 2018, 22:55
Was sick of getting requests for info about a superannuation account, details of which had been sent several times. Rang the super fund, they said that it happens all the time, and they just send the details again as it's an impossible task to get Centrelink to fix their system up.
I just rang my local (government) member's office and said that if it wasn't fixed I'd start writing to the papers about it.
Problem sorted. Don't keep a dog and do your own barking.

Bull at a Gate
20th Mar 2018, 22:55
Same here in Oz. My elderly Aunt (96yo) needed to move to a nursing home. To reduce the fees she paid she, quite understandably, had to fill out a form showing her assets, income and liabilities. The form was 28 pages containing 146 questions! She was required to attach 12 supporting documents.

This is a form which is only going to be used by the elderly. It is not surprising that there are now companies which charge the elderly to fill in the form for them.

She found the process very stressful despite the assistance of me and the rest of the family. It took 6 months, and 2 requisitions from them, before they finally processed the form. She died in the meantime.

In contrast, last week I applied for a new credit card. The credit card company wanted to know what my assets , income and liabilities were. I filled in the form online, gave permission to access my bank records, and was approved the next day.

reynoldsno1
21st Mar 2018, 03:45
Got a new NZ passport the other day - went to the local post office to get a photo, they checked it was OK and emailed me. Back in the office 3 minutes later - 45 seconds to upload photo and complete form. Submit. Passport arrived 2 days later by courier.
(Any current NZ passport holder can act as a referee btw - do you still need someone 'important' in the UK?)

Fark'n'ell
21st Mar 2018, 05:01
NZ cenus can now be done online.Finished in 5 minutes.Beats the old way(20min).

Krystal n chips
21st Mar 2018, 10:25
Unfortunately, it would seem the complexity of Gov't form filling can defeat even those whose occupation it is to complete such.....

Police worker mistakenly fines himself over untaxed car - BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-43483491)

"(Any current NZ passport holder can act as a referee btw - do you still need someone 'important' in the UK?) "

According to the blurb, yes you do ....however....should you take the application in person to say, the Liverpool Passport Office as I did about 3years ago, you may find the photo is suddenly deemed to "lack clarity".....thankfully, located next to the cashier is a convenient photo booth !!..which takes photo's with such amazing clarity they are simply taken from you by the very same person who has only recently "had to consult the supervisor " which bears a remarkable similarity to "consulting my sales manager " when buying a car does it not ?

Anyway, my lack of clarity photo was taken in a booth at my local post office, but, sadly, it appears said booth was far from unique in failing to provide the required standard.......judging from the endless number of people using the conveniently located booth in the Passport Office on the day.

Spunky Monkey
21st Mar 2018, 10:46
The pinnacle of distress is trying to keep your license in check with the CAA.

They are complete b**t**ds.

I have passed my IR renewal and sent through the form. They rejected it as I needed to add another form.

That is 4 forms for the IR and another one plus supporting evidence and my passport for a change of address.

What really sticks in the throat, is that my license must be endorsed by 22 March 18 otherwise my IR expires.
4 tests have been cancelled due wx and the aircraft going tech twice.
I asked the CAA for an extension due to the really bad weather.
They said no.

However they are not responding to correspondence for 10 days due to excessive workload, exacerbated by the weather!

How is it most other countries can have a credit card sized ID with all their ratings on etc. We have one for a driving licence.
Yet the CAA still uses bits of paper and a system that is unfathomable.

It shouldn't be too difficult to build a system, that allows people to log into their account and apply for ratings etc, while allowing the pass certificates to be submitted by the examiner.

You could half the workforce in an afternoon...oh wait...there is the problem!

ImageGear
21st Mar 2018, 10:56
It's easy for them to tell you how much you owe the tax man, it's difficult for you to tell the tax man how much you owe.

It's simple to pay your tax, it's difficult to get a refund.

Recognise a pattern here? of course you do, it's called "legalised extortion".

People who can afford a team of tax consultants don't pay much, people who cannot, pay whatever the taxman thinks he can get away with.

IG

ORAC
21st Mar 2018, 11:19
Hopefully (?), thinks will get easier - or at least less convoluted - in the UK from this year. The Government Gateway is being retired and replaced by GOV.UK Verify.

One time sign-up with the usual multiple forms of ID through a private company (who doubtless will charge a fee), and a single point of access to all government services thereafter.

https://www.citizensafe.co.uk/tips-and-guides/gov-uk-verify-is-replacing-government-gateway/

ian16th
21st Mar 2018, 12:17
Tried to 'sign up' for the Government Gateway (to access HMRC to pay UK tax) whilst living in UAE some years ago. Had to give up as they had to send the password to me but would not accept a Post Office box number as an address. Unfortunately the UAE does not have postal deliveries and everything goes to a PO box.:ugh::ugh::ugh:
It is unfortunate that in the UK, PO Box users are understood to be hiding something. While in many parts of the world, they are part of daily life.

ian16th
21st Mar 2018, 12:20
Why oh why are government on-line services so bloody complicated and often written in such a way that bamboozles as well as being some of the most unuser friendly sites imaginable.

I find the term; 'User Hostile' to be appropriate :)

VP959
21st Mar 2018, 12:39
I find the term; 'User Hostile' to be appropriate :)


Very apt.

I gave up trying to get the Government Gateway to work after three attempts - same reason as above, the paperwork with the tear off password arrived late, then the system point blank refused to work, leading to another application.

I gave up trying to check my civil service pension on line as it was just too damned difficult to access, and they stopped giving out anything other than an annual statement in paper form years ago, so I now rely on just checking my bank account and making sure what looks to be the right amount has gone in each month.

The things a bloody nuisance, as when I became eligible for the state pension late last year, my civil service pension payments changed, and I found it challenging to work out why. Not being able to access anything online meant I had to work backwards to see that what they had done was subtract my state pension from my tax free allowance, so the tax due on my state pension was being taken from my civil service pension.

It would have been helpful it they had made this clear - a short letter explaining what was going to happen would have saved me working through a pile of data to reverse engineer what they had done.

Ken Borough
21st Mar 2018, 12:45
The form was 28 pages containing 146 questions! She was required to attach 12 supporting documents.

I share your pain! :ugh: This particular form is, as I understand, not able to be completed and submitted on-line. One is required to download, print, complete by hand and submit by Post Office mail. Sheer torture, by design!

On websites generally, most seem to be designed by boffins who never have to use them, as with a lot of software. The developers have NFI. If they did, their websites and forms would be infinitely more user -friendly. :mad:

Carry0nLuggage
21st Mar 2018, 12:48
Electoral Roll and Vehicle Excise Duty - both so quick I wonder if I've missed anything.
Online pass port renewal - Photos on Saturday, digital uploaded to cloud. Form completed Monday night, old passport in the post Tuesday, shiny new passport a week later.

By comparison our corporate internal website is a master class in user hostility.

flash8
21st Mar 2018, 13:33
Used to have my British Passports issued in Moscow... useful as I rarely leave nowadays... however when I went to renew this time they said "had to be sent away to the UK" as Consulates now are not allowed to issue passports.

At one time held two British Passports (just had a letter from the Government I worked for stating was working in a Country where that was desirable) and went into the Brit embassy in Tashkent to renew there where the guy behind the counter (obviously dead bored) brightened up on my entry and gleefully stated "well I have four passports!!.... :eek:

Fareastdriver
21st Mar 2018, 14:33
I renewed my passport by post when I was in China. Sent the paperwork off to the British Embassy in Beijing and, surprise, surprise, it arrived about a week later. Slightly quaint inasmuch as it had 'British Embassy, Peking' as the issuing authority.

A few weeks later I noticed that there were different numbers on the front page and the mug shot sheet. Clenched buttocks as I went through passport checks with the Frontier Guard on exiting the country.

Not noticed on arrival at Heathrow either. I sent it off to Glasgow with an embellished covering letter and next day there was a breathless phone call apologising and a new passport the day after.

old,not bold
21st Mar 2018, 15:26
Hopefully (?), thinks will get easier - or at least less convoluted - in the UK from this year. The Government Gateway is being retired and replaced by GOV.UK Verify. I commend your optimism, but if things do get better it will be the first time in living memory that an IT system set up by the UK Government to replace a discredited and failed system does actually improve things significantly, if at all, apart from having a catchier name. The reason is simple; it's the same Civil Servants who are responsible for making sure it works (with or without a contractor, consultants etc etc) and they are totally clueless. Among the many things they don't understand is that the internet infrastructure in the UK is light years from supporting these grandiose schemes. Their wonderful notions, such as those behind the Government Gateway concept, are only practicable if every person, meaning every single person over 16 in the country has an easy, cheap, ultrafast and 100% reliable internet connection, together with the equipment to match, and the knowledge and training to use it effectively.

My guess is that about 30% of the total population fulfils all that. And it will be another 10 - 20 years, if development continues at its present pace, before 98% fulfil it.

Let's not forget that at least 5% of the 16+ population do not understand English sufficiently to use these Government websites effectively. Another large fraction have neither any form of computer or device nor any means of connecting.

The stupidity of Government making some information and/or services accessible ONLY on line is staggering, especially when a lot of their websites are incomprehensible even to well-educated, English-speaking people with excellent connections and equipment, and crash frequently without any reason.

pax britanica
21st Mar 2018, 15:39
I don't think you can say its all the fault of civil servants-the contractors are usually useless too having got the gig through one dubious means or another so its a dangerous combination.

Plenty of dreadful private websites in UK as well as Govt ones and in fairness the DVLC and TV Licencing are very simple and straightforward .

Also recently got a Sri Lanka electronic travel authority which was was very quick and efficient and they even send you an acknowledgement of application letter written in correct English and expressed in a polite friendly manner as opposed to the usual series of threats and warnings that accompany things like this as a rule
PB

UniFoxOs
21st Mar 2018, 15:40
Quite correct, ONB.

old,not bold
21st Mar 2018, 15:42
I don't think you can say its all the fault of civil servants-the contractors are usually uselessIt's the civil servants who engage, and then fail completely to control and monitor, the useless contractors; that makes them equally useless.

Ancient Observer
21st Mar 2018, 16:18
Both the CS doing the definitions of what is required, and the consultants/contractors who are supposed to deliver them are incompetent.
When I worked in a very high-spending IT Dept., in the faster end of the private sector, and in the Petrochems projects world, the Project manager/Director would say "That's it. No more changes. And off the project went. The project would already have been strictly defined by Prince2 methods. (None of this "agile" approach to buggaration).

The civil servants who make the important decisions could not tell Prince2 from Prince Harry. And they are continuously changing definitions, some of which are critical.

The contractors and consultants just lie. Whether it is calling a new grad a 10+ years experienced professional, or saying that their last 10 projects came in on time and below budget. When there are no consequences, - only rewards - for lying, why tell the truth?

I cannot see anything changing this.

Kelly Hopper
21st Mar 2018, 19:32
The UK seems hell bent on re-inventing the wheel.yet fails everytime. eg. How many millions/billions were spent on a national id card and then binned? Many countries have such a system that could have been adopted but no, we have to have our own, tax paid expensive new system?
And then they decided to abandon the paper element to driving licences in line with the rest of the world. Relief at last? But no... now you need to go online and get a one off 21 day special code to access your driving history to rent a car! You really couldn't make this up? The simple reason why the UK has a crap pension, crap social services, crap transport and infrastructure, crap schools that close if snow is forecast, crap health service is not because there is not enough money, it's because it is all wasted.

Gertrude the Wombat
21st Mar 2018, 19:50
(Any current NZ passport holder can act as a referee btw - do you still need someone 'important' in the UK?)
Not really - in theory the answer is yes but in practice a vast number of people qualify. I once asked someone "do you want me to sign as a councillor, or as a company director, or as a chartered engineer?". You can't get much more dodgy than including any company director.

Hydromet
22nd Mar 2018, 07:00
Spunky Monkey, I think it's time for you to adopt the approach suggested in my post 8.

DType
22nd Mar 2018, 12:14
Ah, Contractors.
Whenever we were short staffed,the order came down, "Sub-contract".
By the time I had written an adequate specification (usually for software, sometimes for mechanical design), the job was effectively 90% done.
Just once, I got the job totally re-done because they had not fulfilled the contract terms, but of course delivery was then late.
As you can tell from this rant, it still hurts.
And the moral is, "Get the contract right, and then enforce it."

Gertrude the Wombat
22nd Mar 2018, 12:20
Ah, Contractors.
Whenever we were short staffed,the order came down, "Sub-contract".
By the time I had written an adequate specification (usually for software, sometimes for mechanical design), the job was effectively 90% done.
Just once, I got the job totally re-done because they had not fulfilled the contract terms, but of course delivery was then late.
As you can tell from this rant, it still hurts.
And the moral is, "Get the contract right, and then enforce it."
As one who's usually been the contractor, my problem is with clients who haven't a clue what they want, but still want a fixed price bid. Barge pole territory. If you don't know what you want, expect to pay T&M.

Spunky Monkey
22nd Mar 2018, 12:34
Thanks Hydromet.
Am thinking about the small claims court for loss of earnings.
One of the most stressful issues I have had to deal with.
Everything has been emailed, posted and chased up with telephone calls.

DType
22nd Mar 2018, 15:54
Just this afternoon received a £100 penalty from HMRC, to be paid by today or there will be a penalty on the penalty.
The series could go towards infinity ...

zed3
22nd Mar 2018, 17:58
Having returned to the UK from 44 years in The Netherlands four years ago, I wanted to exchange my NL driving licence for a UK one. Send this plus that and passport for i/d. Sent all as requested but paperwork returned as my UK passport was not acceptable as i/d... 'twas issued in Paris, where we had to do that sort of thing from NL. Sent everything back next post with a short letter saying that was all they were going to get and that I wanted my driver's licence. The thing arrived five days later! Cost me two registered letters, so I think they are keeping the Post Office in business, muppets.

Helol
22nd Mar 2018, 18:45
I renewed my passport last month. Picked up a form from the PO when I was in town, filled it in, sent it to p/port office with my old passport and cheque for the correct amount.

Received a reassuring text saying they had received the docs. Received another text saying it was on the way back to me. Job done. Took about a week. Straight forward, and a good service. Try it...

old,not bold
22nd Mar 2018, 21:51
Helol What you have demonstrated is what we all know; it all works beautifully so long as you don't try and do it on-line, even if that's offered. (OK, not counting the phone and SMS).

llondel
23rd Mar 2018, 04:21
As one who's usually been the contractor, my problem is with clients who haven't a clue what they want, but still want a fixed price bid. Barge pole territory. If you don't know what you want, expect to pay T&M.

Yes, sometimes you have to tell the client exactly what he's going to get. That's usually the point at which he realises that this is not what he wants, and if you're lucky, he might then have a better idea of what he really wants.

Fairdealfrank
5th Apr 2018, 02:00
to add insult to injury, most of the time they're asking for information that already have!!


I renewed my passport by post when I was in China. Sent the paperwork off to the British Embassy in Beijing and, surprise, surprise, it arrived about a week later. Slightly quaint inasmuch as it had 'British Embassy, Peking' as the issuing authority.

Why wouldn't it? "Peking" is the English language translation of the Mandarin word "Beijing". It would be weird to have 3 words, 2 in English and 1 in Mandarin.