Some Rules for Better Telephone Communications at the Welfare Office...

To the public:

Rule #1: If you call and ask outright for your caseworker’s direct-dial phone number, do NOT immediately tell me, when I start to recite it to you, “Hold on, let me get a pencil” and then wander your house for three days on a trek to find writing implements. You called expressly to find out your worker’s phone number. Preparation is key.

Rule #2: If your husband is in the middle of a screaming argument with the “no-good ho of a sister” that you are allowing to live with you, do not call the DPW and ask to talk to her caseworker “because you’re kickin’ her out on the street, the no-good ho”. Call the police. Her caseworker is quite effective at navigating the often twisted terrain of applying for state assistance. She is not so effective at throwing her client out of your home.

Rule #3: Please do not expect me, the switchboard operator, to get up from my station and go searching the building for the piece of mail you dropped off for your worker two days ago and which said worker tells you she never received. I can transfer you to the mail room. I can transfer you to the supervisor-on-duty. I cannot abandon my post to personally go looking for something that I have only your word actually was ever in the building.

Rule #4: Please do not immediately launch into your entire life story and all the tragic things that have befallen and are about to befall you. I have no influence whatsoever on any decisions made by anyone else in this office. I am but a lowly peon, and my opinion and views count for infinitesimally little when it comes to how hard a caseworker will fight for your benefits. All that you telling me about your dropped uterus and hydrocephalic poodle and one-legged mama will do is make me feel very badly that I can’t help you. Kindly keep your guilt trip to yourself. Thank you.
To the caseworkers/supervisors:

Rule #1: ANSWER YER FREAKIN’ PHONES! About half of the calls I take start out with “I’ve been trying to call Mr. X for the last four days. Nobody ever answers and there’s no voicemail. I’m gonna lose my benefits if I don’t talk to him!” And you know what I can do to comfort/help these people? Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nil. I can’t do anything more than try to transfer them yet another time to a phone that rings and rings and rings and rings and…well, you get the idea. As a matter of fact, you invented the idea. Because it’s YOUR PHONE! Answer the damn thing!

Rule #2: Do not get snippy with me when I transfer someone through to you when you’re with a client. Did you happen to notice that I’m seated in the reception area? The reception area that has exactly zero views of even the closest workers’ area? I have no idea where you are or who you have at your desk. All I can do is blindly connect callers to the people they want to talk to. If you want me to also verify that the worker in question is free to speak to the caller, you’ll have to a) pay me more, and b) devise some method by which I can ascertain the worker’s busy/free status. Otherwise, see Caseworker/Supervisor Rule #1.

Every single day when I’m on switchboard… sigh

Thanks for that OP. Great fodder for my next debate against a welfare bureaucracy.

busy day at the office then?

No voice mail? How 20th century! I can see how that can make life miserable for everyone involved.

Almost none of the caseworkers have voicemail. Why, I have no idea. In the case of the worker not answering, we’re supposed to give the caller (who has to call back…we also don’t have a bounceback feature in our phone system that’ll send them back to me if no one answers) the number of the worker’s supervisor, who will then take a message to give to the worker.

I know. It’s positively 70’s…

To be consistent, I assume you’re going to use the piss poor state of corporate call centers (BellSouth, I’m looking at you) in your next debate against unchecked capitalism? :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you kidding Driver8 if jayjay worked for a private company the office would be run so efficiently that the operator would be able to see every person in the entire office, give pencil and paper to everyone who calls, have detailed knowledge of every piece of mail in the entire office and would do it all from India. Plus all of jayjay’s coworkers would answer there phone every second of every day.

I’ve been in your chair, though in Canada. And now I’m remembering just what it was like to be in that chair, thanks alot ;). A special amen on case workers with phone-phobias, especially since my office did have a bouceback.
Can I add a couple that I would have loved to have in place when I was answering the Welfare Phone?

To the self-supporting public:***

Rule #1 Calls to report suspected welfare fraud can be helpful and your efforts to help keep the system honest are appreciated, but the computers can’t run a search for the case file of “Cindy, who might be shacking up with John”, even if you’re pretty sure she’s working under the table somewhere. I need a tad more to go on.

Rule #2Calls to bitch in general about the fact that anyone is on welfare have the disctinction of being the only thing less useful than calling to report fraud with only a first name and a handful of unflattering adjectives. I’m a receptionist. I understand the frustration, but all you’re accomplishing by venting on me is to make the hated system run ever-so-slighty more inefficiently by tying up my line. Go vent on your representatives if it’s it’s that important to you. They can change things. I can’t even discuss it with you.

To the Bureaucracy Above:

Rule #1 Having an automated menu for incoming calls to help streamline our service could be a very useful tool. But having that menu give options we don’t provide is no fun for anyone on either side of the phone.

If the nice recorded lady says “Press 2 to schedule an appointment”, and 2 leads to my phone, either give me the ability to schedule frigging appointments for people, send 2 to some one that you will allow to schedule appointments, or change the frigging message.

Rule #2 Defending and maintaining the problems described in Rule #1 for two years so that “offices across the Province will have the same automated message”, even though offices across the Province don’t all have the same services, is dickery.

And this all DESPITE all the evil magistrates STEALING money from the private companies via “taxes” and using it to fund a horde of inept beaurocrats that exist to rob people of liberty!!!111!!11!

I’ve never advocated unchecked capitalism.

My mother-in-law has been a widow since 1968. Her husband died of ALS, lingering for years and eating up the family savings. “Mom”, with the help of my late sister-in-law, successfully navigated the welfare bureaucracy and got on Medicaid, food stamps, and every other assistance program she qualified for.

Three years ago, Mom’s doctor recommended that she move into assisted living.

We put her in a nice place and Medicaid, through something called a “Medicaid waiver” program picked up her bills until we sold her house.

The Medicaid rules state that outside of an owner-occupied house, recipients are allowed $2000 cash assets. For reasons no one can explain, when Granny sells her home, the gov.t doesn’t just seize all cash above $2K and let her live in peace; they throw her off welfare until the money is spent down.

My wife, who was diagnosed with lymphoma a month after Mom went to the home,had to deal with Mom’s finances as well as her own recovery.

When the money got low, we tried getting Mom back on welfare, not knowing that this waiver program had 2 parts handled by 2 offices-welfare and an “office on aging”.

The wife called the wrong one first, but didn’t know she had the wrong one first because all she got over the phone was that a worker would contact her. Repeated calls did not get her a worker, just the receptionist.

The worker finally got to our case in about 3 weeks, acted annoyed with my wife for bothering her with so many messages, and then condescendingly told her that she had to call another office first.

The office she should have called first–but was never told she should have called first-- put her on about 3 more weeks of “hold” but at least had the decency to tell her that she was in a fixed position on the waiting list and that re-calls were thus unnecessary–something the first office never told her, which is why she wasted hours on “hold” to talk to a receptionist at the other office who ultimately blew her off each time.

In the meantime, Mom’s bills got paid out of OUR pockets.

Why couldn’t the people at the intended"#2 office" have instructed their receptionist to ask if we’d finished all the paperwork at “#1 office” first before putting my wife on their wait list? Why couldn’t they have told my wife up-front that she was on a wait list instead of giving the impression at each phone call that a worker would be calling that day?

Why couldn’t Mom have gotten detailed instructions as to how to get back on welfare at the time she was kicked off?

How do poor dotty old ladies without surviving children deal with the bureaucracy