Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Please do your paper work

because I need to do mine!
A friend in the UK wrote yesterday and asked if I could find some information for him. His aunt died recently. He is the executor of her will and he needs information from a bank here. 
He sent all the necessary paper work and has since contacted the bank on two more occasions. There has been no response.  
I sent the information he asked for as soon as I could get it.
I hate paperwork. I loathe filling out forms. I detest dealing with finances. I would make a totally lousy treasurer for anyone else. 
Recently though I have had to do the banking for the Senior Cat. He hasn't been able to get to the bank because he has not, until recently, been allowed to ride his gopher - the only way he can get to the bank unless someone takes him in a car.  
I have an Enduring Power of Attorney and also a bank Authority to Act. The Senior Cat has issued purrs of instruction and I have duly obliged. I have made sure that all the usual receipts and information are available. As I usually see one of two people in the bank he uses this is not difficult. They know him - and me. The paperwork is up to date.
But I wonder what would happen if I was on the other side of the world and there was no relative left here? Would the bank be so careful, so compliant?
I  suspect not. I suspect the answer would be a shrug and a "we'll get around to that later". They would take the attitude that the face-to-face customers matter more. They would let the rest pile up.
I say this because it is true of all sorts of things. In my job I do a lot of paperwork. Some of it is repetitious - so much so that I have several forms stored in the computer and already filled out apart  from some details as to whom I am doing the particular task for this time. There are (too many) times when I come across something new and (far too many) times when people ask me for information they do not need.
I was helping to design a form recently. Another person on the team said something to the effect of "I suppose we have to start with all the usual things..."  and two more of us said, "Hold it right there. This needs to be as simple as possible."
So we haven't asked for age or sex or a street address or a number of other things. They don't matter in the context of this form. We know that information is already held by the organisation. We have a contact for them - and an alternative contact. We know which languages they are able to work in and the level of assistance they need in others. There are one or two other pieces of information vital for the work they will be doing. That is all we asked for. It is all we needed.  
Most people returned their paperwork on time. Someone else still had to chase a few people. There were comments though - comments that the form was "nice and short" and "that only took a couple of minutes". 
It made me think yet again that we often ask for information we don't need, don't and won't use. We ask for it because we have always asked for it. It's assumed that we need it.
I wonder what information is asked for  by the bank my friend is dealing with. Are they suffocating under an overload of unnecessary information? Is that why they haven't responded? 
Or has someone just thought, "I'll get around to that sometime..."?

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