Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open Letter to Montgomery County, MD

Dear Montgomery County, Md:

Your Helpless Desk is nothing but a source of endless frustration to the tax-paying populous. Here is my story, and I beg you to tell me where I went wrong.

I am anal-retentive. I pay my taxes on time. In December, I usually go to the online site and pay via e-check, but this time I was running early (EARLY), but didn't want to actually mail the check yet. I scheduled the payment from my bank to be paid by Dec 30th. They automatically mail the payment early enough to arrive by my Pay By date. I pay all my bills this way and have for years. Never had a problem.

Fast forward to this week, when I received a notice I was past due on my Property taxes by $10 + interest. WHAT?

I checked my statement, and the amount paid = the amount billed.

I checked with my bank, and the check was sent on December 24th. PLENTY of time to get there by the 30th, even with the Christmas holiday.

If I was out to defraud the County, or pay late on purpose, would I have picked the 30th to pay by, or do you think that would have been the 31st?

Today I went to the Web site to see what day you received my check, but that option is not available that I can see, so I decided to call the phone number on my letter. I was on hold for almost 30 minutes, and the person who finally answered only transferred me to the Finance department. The phone in the Finance department rang at least 25 times with no answer and no transfer back to the person who'd transferred me. #FAIL

I went to the Web site again, looking for a Contact Us link, and found it. I got an automated response saying I would only receive an answer if I'd checked the box that I wanted a reply. Excuse me, but if I am filling out a form to ask a question, when WOULDN'T I want a reply? #FAIL

So I went back to the form again, filled it out again, this time checking the box. What a PITA.

Then I tried calling again on the off-chance the transfer was handled incorrectly. After 15 more minutes on hold, I got someone who wanted to transfer me, but I yelled WAIT A MINUTE! and explained what had happened the last time. He gently explained he was just part of a call center, and this was all he could do. I had him give me the address for the Finance office in case I need to go in person on my day off next week. Got it.

Then he transferred me. The phone rang about 30 times before I hung up. #FAIL

I have a job. That job enables me to pay my property taxes. I need to actually WORK while I am at my job, and I cannot afford to sit on hold for an hour at a time on the off-chance someone will actually pick up the phone.

Now I get to spend all or part of my day off next week in line at the County offices to challenge this late fee. Is it worth the $10+ ??? In my mind it is, if only on principle. Grrrrr

I'll be sure to report back to my readers on how that experience goes next week. In the mean time, get your freakin' phone system fixed! If you cannot pick up the phone on a timely basis, have it go to a hold queue to be answered as the calls come in. Experiencing a high call volume? Fine, TELL ME, then give me alternate times to call, or the physical location to where I can go in person. You did neither of these today.

I hope I never need to call your Customer Disservice line again, because it sure is worthless.