One of these is turning 65 when every one of us becomes eligible for superannuation. I hasten to point out that in this world of rapidly changing demographics, increased life expectancy and, at least in the case of Christchurch, increasing labour shortages, turning 65 and considering retirement are unrelated issues!
Somehow, someone in our bureaucracy knows when you are turning 65 and a couple of months before your birthday you are sent a letter advising you to register for superannuation early and preferably online. “If you are late there will be no back payments”!
This is where the systems starts to break down.
In my case it was impossible to register online because the street I live in was not on the “Scroll Down” list of streets online and the website does not allow you to type your street name in. Further, once you have reached that blockage point there is no going on. The process is stalled and you cannot proceed online. Stupid, that is!
When I described this to a “super” official I was told that they heard that the online registration was not user friendly but as employees they were forbidden to access it.
I think the website is one of the most unfriendly I have come across.
LESSON ONE: All Work and Income staff should be encouraged to dummy register on the site just see how clumsy it is.
While encouraging people to register on line, the system makes it almost impossible to do so and I imagine most approaching 65 would find it unfriendly, extremely time consuming and downright difficult.
LESSON TWO: Come on guys. In this day and age online registration should be a doddle!
Regardless of whether you are registering online or not, there is still a requirement to furnish a significant number of original documents to show you exist, that your bank account is real and that your partner is a certain age, shares your residence etc. None of those can be executed on line so a visit to Work and Income is inevitable, in any event.
LESSON THREE: How can that documentation support system be made more friendly? Do we really need to produce three means of identification (for ourselves and another three for our spouses) when I can cross a border or withdraw all my money with just one?
But it gets worse.
I took everything I thought I needed into Work and Income. I arrived there at 9.00am and was dismayed to find the office opened at 9.30am! Really? In this day and age? After a wait outside and then inside in a queue, I had my filled out form and supporting documentation all checked and ticked off. Good to go, I thought, but no!
Ten days later I was rung by some other “checker” somewhere else in New Zealand, who told me I needed evidence from my bank that my bank account details were legitimate. Hey, I thought furnishing a copy of a bank statement at the time I registered might suffice, but no! So a request from me, to the bank to contact work and income to verify bank account details. More time wasting and resource expenditure. Surely that must the deal done! But wait, there’s more!
Fourteen days days before I am eligible to start receiving super I am called by a different Work and Income employee (this one based in Blenheim) to be advised that they require me to present my wife's original birth certificate to a work and income office in Christchurch. Why? Three forms of ID required for her and she is not even getting superannuation! Another visit and another queue.
(Why do they have full time security guards hovering around those queues I wonder?)
Why does it take three separate checks in the system to determine this is needed and why is it needed anyway?
Apparently all of the amassed information must now go past some very strict unforgiving official who can make or break my deal/day.
I find it really hard to believe that in this modern age of customer service we are still suffering under an archaic, clumsy system.
LESSON FOUR: Be very afraid because you will be going through it sooner or later!