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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Hate Bureaucrats

I hate people who think blind adherance to policy is the best policy without ever engaging a brain cell to evaluate a situtaion. I especially hate it when those people are in customer service type roles.

I've been working with a student for the last two days about why she can't enroll in classes. It turns out, her leave of absence to do a quarter at the American University was never recorded in the system. So I sent some information to the Reg Office requesting their assistance in correcting the record and I encouraged the student to follow up with the Reg Office herself. She diligently did so. The Reg Office lady disregarded the information that the student submitted her leave of absence paperwork, stating only that she needed to fill out a reinstatement form. The student did so. This happened yesterday. This morning the student called me back, still unable to enroll in classes. I looked at the record, and rather than correcting the error, putting her on LOA starting at the beginning of fall term and returning her as of 12/01, they let the discontinuation status stay, and reinstated her as of 12/01. If she were on LOA, she'd get security to enroll in Winter term classes immediately. Since she's being reinstated, she can't enroll until 12/01. This is a problem as she's a graduating senior and still needs some required classes. So I tell the student to contact the Reg Office and ask that either the record be corrected to show her leave of absence correctly (best case) or to at least correct the reinstatement to 11/21 so that she can enroll immediately (second best case). I sent her on this mission, not realizing she was dealing with the bureaucrat-from-hell in the Reg Office.

I got a ticket from the hell-spawn in the Reg Office a few minutes before five stating that she entered it correctly and that I don't understand the Reg Office policy and to call if I had questions. Um... okay. I explained the scenario, that the student believed the LOA was in place and that she'd submitted all the LOA paperwork last spring. She explained that the student wasn't on an LOA, but was discontinued for non-enrollment. I said that the student was supposed to be on LOA. She said she wasn't. I asked if she could check to see if the paperwork existed and maybe it was just a clerical error. She started going off about Reg Office policy and how reinstatements are as of 12/01 and that's the policy. And I said that I understood the policy, but I was questioning the data entry and did you check the student's paper file to see if the LOA paperwork was in there. She said that the student was discontinued, not on LOA. I said that yes, that's what it says in PeopleSoft, but that it was contrary to what the student states and perhaps there was a clerical error. She said that maybe I should come sit with her and see how they work and the policies and procdures. I said that I understand the policies and procedures, but what I'm wondering about was whether or not the Reg Office ever got the LOA paperwork. I asked if she had checked the student's paper file. She told me that maybe I should talk to her boss because she can't seem to get through to me. I raised my eyebrow and said, "All I'm asking is did you check the paper file for the paperwork. I'm trying to determine if this is because the student submitted the paperwork late or because there was a clerical error in the Reg Office." She said she didn't know. I asked if that was because she had looked at the paperwork or not. She said she didn't know. This didn't make sense. I said, "Could you go look at the paperwork and let me know." She said no, that the student was discontinued, not on a leave of absence. I asked if she had researched it using the student's paper file. She said that she wasn't going to discuss it any further with me as it was after five. It was 5:01. She suggested I talk to her boss tomorrow. Um, yeah. Definitely. Then she hung up. I said, "Fine!" and slammed down my phone and went to discuss this with my manager so that he'd be aware if he heard from her or her boss. Discuss as in vent loudly with several expletives. Not the best policy I'll grant, but it's been a long time since I've had conversation at that level where "policy" is waved about like the word of God. Anyone who abdicates logic and reason in favor of ignorance and policy should never ever be in a customer service role and be condemned to manual labor.

The chap across the hall is from Russia. He had overheard much of this conversation as it grew. He said, "Bureaucrats really bug you, eh?" I said, "Yeah" and started recounting. He said, "Imagine a whole country founded on that." I said, "I'd shoot people." He raised an eyebrow. I said, "I would long ago be in prison or dead because some idiot couldn't plug in their brain and think for themselves." Worse than being completely stupid is having a brain and refusing to use it. Grr...

3 Comments:

  • Could it be that she relies solely on Peoplesoft and has never seen a paper file and doesn't know where they are or how to research them. I'd take 'em up on the original offer and talk to their boss. Doesn't sound like you're getting anywhere.

    By Blogger Chris S, at 12:11 AM  

  • Rather like fundies, eh?

    By Blogger Flonkbob, at 7:21 AM  

  • To anyone who has thought there should be gov't programs to solve things, this story ought to serve as a warning. For every gov't program, there are bureaucrats like this running it.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 8:27 PM  

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