Friday, April 20, 2012

Pog Mo Thoin, Mr. CityLink.


You might remember me from such rants as 'Dear Mr.Telstra', in which I vented my feelings towards the pathetic excuse of a communications company (and by the way, I am obviously using the term "communications" veeeeeeery loosely).

I will shortly be writing a post about my builder. And also my builder's wife, their *ahem* receptionist, the developer, the concretor and the three foremen who preceeded our current (fourth) foreman. (Does that make him our fourman?? Or am I tired?) But since that post will probably make you rename me Ranty McRant, I will hold off for a while. Probably until we actually have the house and have passed beyond the 13-week maintenance period. I'm not completely stupid.


Tonight's rant is a doozy. It's not quite up there with the story of our house construction...frankly, that one is in a league of its' own. Trust me.

But tonight's venting is brought to you courtesy of CityLink, that magnificent bastion of new, congested and expensive roads. A company so inordinately disorganised, they don't realise how ridiculous they are. A company who employs people so stupid, it must be a prerequisite of employment to have an IQ lower than 10. Oh, but listen to me, rattling on. I'm being far too kind. Let's begin, shall we?

Once upon a time, a few years ago now, a dirty great road was built across Melbourne. Everyone was really happy about it, because not only did the interminable roadworks cause massive congestion on every other route available, but when this new road opened, it was just as clogged as the old road. Not only that, but it incorporated a lot of old roads that we'd already been using for quite a while. The only difference was, now we had to PAY to use this new road. And the old roads that were already there. Which we had previously used for free. But I digress.

Like so many other people who used this road on a regular basis, I signed up for an access account to make paying for my road usage more manageable than forgetting to ring up the toll line within the stipulated three days, and then having to plead with the operator to let you pay on the fourth day.

This access account worked pretty well for me for several years. Every once in a while I'd get a piece of paper in the mail telling me how much CityLink had taken out of my bank account, and I would glance at it before doing something important. (Let's just pretend I was doing something important, ok?? Ok.)

I even bought a new car when the Mouse was in my tummy (I'm thinking around mid-2009), and put the new car on my account. Too easy.

So it was a bit of an unpleasant surprise when I got a nasty "you drove on our road and you're not allowed to without paying for it" letter late in December last year. It was actually for EastLink, the even newer, less congested but still damned expensive road built between my nearest freeway and CityLink.

So I rang EastLink to see what the problem was. They wouldn't talk to me because I'm not Christian. I explained that he had authorised me to speak to the call centre about our account, and that I had been doing so for several years. Nope. Nothin' doin'.

Christian rang them, and waited on hold for 45 minutes. After explaining that we did in fact have an access account, EastLink explained that obviously there had been a problem transferring our details across to the new system incorporating EastLink. We were to phone CityLink, because they would have all the answers. Right then.

Phone CityLink. Again, wait on hold for nearly an hour. No, says the CityLink man, you don't have an account with us. And, might I add, you never have. (You could just imagine him shaking his pumpkin of a head at Christian over the phone, sadly denouncing the public who deigned to phone the call centre with stupid questions). Christian told him, with admirable courtesy, that we did have an account, and had the statements to prove it. Perhaps there had been a glitch in the system? Perhaps we had dropped off the list in the transfer to EastLink??

Mr.CityLink insisted that there was no way that they could have made a mistake, and that we were simpletons who clearly had never had a CityLink account. At which point my husband pointed out that there were only two explanations: either we had been driving, unnoticed and therefore, for free, on CityLink for several years, OR our car had dropped out of their system.

Mr.CityLink then agreed with Christian that quite possibly, there had been a problem with their computer system. And that maybe, just maybe, the mistake was not our doing. Huh. But that he couldn't fix the fine, because it was on EastLink's system. I'll fix it at this end, he promised, and you ring EastLink and sort it out with them. Ok? Oh, and by the way, your wife is now authorised to ring us if she wants. Gee, thanks a bunch.

I could sit here all night and tell you the to-ing and fro-ing that went on after that. I'm not going to, only because my blood pressure is rising as we speak. Needless to say, EastLink couldn't fix the problem, because it didn't originate with them. We (and I say, 'we', but I mean Christian - I'm still not authorised to speak to them. I can't imagine what Christian needs to do to allow me to do such a grown-up thing as speak to CityLink about my own car??) rang CityLink four times to get put back on the system before they finally managed to do it. Including two times when they gave us a "new" account number over the phone, which then turned out not to exist.

Throughout January of this year, we had to ring CityLink every time we travelled to the city, because every single time we would receive an infringement notice. In the end, (after being transferred to the Department of Climate Change by a "Senior Supervisor"), we were advised that the problem was fixed, and that we should ignore any further infringement notices or nasty letters from them because they were already in the system, and couldn't be stopped. Whatever.

So I did just that. I ignored the nasty letters that kept coming, and coming. I collected every document that came from CityLink and EastLink shouting that we, the worthless vermin who dared to travel on their gold-paved roads, had not paid our tolls!!! I also collected the ones that showed our (automatic) payments, thanking us for travelling on CityLink, and celebrating Victoria's wonderfulness.

Until today, when one letter arrived that was so horrible, it took my breath away. And then formed a rant in my hot little head.

Apparently, one tiny little toll imposed when we took the kids to the Wiggles in early December (when I had just come out of hospital? And I was absolutely stonkered on pills? And it hurt, a lot?? Yep - that time) had slipped through the "don't worry love, we'll fix it" net.

Because now it's not a few bucks to travel in North Melbourne, it's a few hundy or a date with a judge in court. Are you serious?? We now have to spend time and energy (on top of the already considerable time and energy already expended) dispelling this false fine, or risk jail time?? Mr. CityLink, you must be off your tree.

And you just bought yourself a fight.

My hubby and I, we're peaceful folk. We like to keep life simple, keep it nice. I don't think you could ever describe us as litigious. Until now.

Bring it on, Mr. CityLink. We have the names and numbers of the people in your company we spoke to, the dates we did so, and for how long. We have the invoices and receipts proving our payments, and our ownership of an access account. And we are sick and tired of being harrassed by you, of spending our precious little spare time sitting on the phone waiting for you. And you can bet your backside, you are not getting one red cent from us. Christian is more than prepared to don a prison-issue jumpsuit and spend a few days behind bars, rather than pay you anything.

Given that your phone system does not allow us to speak to someone about this issue, but instead asks for our problem in writing, expect some writing. From a lawyer. Mr.CityLink, you have taken stupidity to a new level. We'll see you in court. It means I'll have to buy new shoes, but I'm willing to endure that hardship.

Rant over.

Thank you.


Kate said...

Unbelievable Sal! The stupidity of bureaucracy never fails to amaze ... Hope you guys give them what for xxx

Desire Empire said...

Forget the lawyer I used to be one and they are just another form of rip off merchant.
My advice would be your State local member or failing that, A current affair or maybe just go there first.

You could insert any big Australian agency govt or corporate for city link here. Inufriating


casey said...

I say counter sue for time lost, emotional suferring and defamation of character basically saying you are road travelling theifs! Mmmmm yes, that's what I think you should do. Oh andSal, you should totally do the jail stint... Us Mums need a break every now and then, a bed to yourself, as much TV as you can handle, three meals cooked for you and served up without you doing a thing.... Mate, ask them if they would consider increasing it from a weekend stay to a week lol

Sarah said...

'So I rang EastLink to see what the problem was. They wouldn't talk to me because I'm not Christian.'

Ummm, I'm almost too embarrased to admit (but thought it might give you something to laugh about in all this) that after reading the above I almost went off on a rant about how could they possibly discriminate against you because of your religion!

Doh ... ;) x

Jasmine said...

Oh wow I feel like I was reading our own story. We experienced almost exactly the same pain and frustration for exactly the same reasons and went through the exact same stupid rigmarole trying to sort it. Hope you have more fight in you than we did. In the end we gave up and paid about $300 worth of fines that we never should have paid. Sounds stupid I know but that's how much the battle did our heads in and it was easier to give in and walk away. Good luck and let us know how you go.

Sarah said...

Hey Sal - haven't seen you around for a while - hope all is ok x