Friday, 20 November 2015

"I don't understand this and I...."

don't really understand this one either. I must be getting dopey dear."
One of the many elderly people I see when I am out and about stopped me and asked me to "have a look at something". It is not the first time and it probably won't be the last. 
I sometimes see things I would rather not see. Even when they ask me to look I feel as if I am prying into their private affairs. 
I have read many letters from Centrelink (which deals with pensions among other things), letters from banks and other financial institutions, the tax office, solicitors, other government departments, and service providers. I have explained.
I never give advice about what to do - although I will explain what the consequences of a decision will be when I am asked. "Cat won't tell you what to do but..." is a common phrase.
Yesterday the elderly woman who asked me had two items in her hand. One was a bill and the other was a letter from a service provider.
We went through the  bill, a complex one, item by item. I checked to make sure that the company in question had actually supplied everything and done the work involved. There was an item on there that I didn't understand either. I made the phone call on her behalf. I spoke to the receptionist. She didn't know either. I spoke to "the manager". He brought it up on a screen in front of him. 
"She's a pensioner," I told him, "And she did provide her pension number."
"Oh right. I'll send out an amended bill. I don't suppose she's got a computer?"
"No," I told him. I was not going to offer he send it to me.
He sighed and said it would be in the post.
The other letter was from a service provider saying that they would be charging to send out paper bills in future. This puzzled her. Why would they charge to send her a bill? No, she doesn't want it to come out of her bank account. That confuses her. She likes to feel in control. She likes to know exactly what she has there. 
She is actually a very organised person. Her late husband was ill for some years and he taught her to deal with everything - in an old fashioned sort of way. 
I dealt with the second letter when I got home. I dealt with it on line. I sent an e-mail to the service provider stating she is a pensioner and giving her pension number. There was a response several hours later saying it had been noted and there was no charge for pensioners.
I will print that off in a moment and leave it for her this morning.
But, I shouldn't have to do this sort of thing. By no means everyone is computer literate. I also know highly intelligent professional people who are computer literate who will not use direct debit or internet banking. I don't use internet banking. The Senior Cat is strongly opposed to it. He thinks it isn't safe. My siblings use it. I would use direct debit but the Senior Cat won't do that either. Although I am involved he actually pays the bills. It is something he can do. I know how to do it. I can do it if I need to but, while he can, he likes to feel he is doing it. He wants to go on doing it in the way he understands. 
It is the same for a lot of other elderly people. Insisting a ninety year old start using internet banking or trust direct debit is too much.  Charging them because they don't have the ability to do these things is simply wrong.


Helen Devries said...

I made my tax declaration yesterday...or started to. Then discovered that the taxman wanted my mobile phone number in order to send me the password for making the declaration online.
They will get it today...on paper.

catdownunder said...

Now why I am not surprised by that - good on you!