Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, July 01, 2022

The Joy of Paperwork
Thursday 30th June - Diksmuide


In simpler times, one got one’s act together a long time in advance of travel, and if correspondence was entered into it was by a thing called “sea mail”.

Then a decade or so ago the internet happened and with a bit of luck, for the price of a cup of coffee at a certain Scottish hamburger chain, one could collect one’s electronic mail, perhaps even send a reply or two before getting on with the business of being out of touch.

These are not simple times.   The Flemish Waterways Authority for instance, have “simplified” their system, which means It’s no longer possible to walk up to a counter, pay a nice man some money, and walk out with a shiny new registration sticker.   Everything must be done online, through a website which has an English version with a hundred-item menu still in Flemish, which is a kind of Double Dutch.

To the surprise of all we did manage to get the necessary documents uploaded, the form filled in reasonably well, and even got to the part where we had to pay the bill, before simplification got the better of us: The credit card sent a code to our "home" number, which was not particularly helpful, but by turning off the phone and swapping swapping SIM cards and restarting it, we did receive the message, along with warnings about the cost of data roaming.  This process of course disconnected our internet connection, and by the time we restored it the payment session had timed out and our window of simplification closed.

A visit to the office forty kilometres away, yielded a friendly conversation, which had we been in France would have been punctuated by a dozen shrugs, and the phone number of another nice man who might be able to help.   He couldn’t, but he gave us the number of yet another nice man who was also befuddled by the simplicity and gave us yet another number to call.  The nice man who answered our fifth call wasn’t sure what he could do, but he has a dog with the same name as our boat, and very kindly pulled some strings and pressed some buttons and apologetically charged us an extra 25% to sort out what turned out to be the fault in their website.

Of course the only way of paying for this particular simple service was by money transfer, and it probably goes without saying that when our Australian bank’s online services went down at the exact time we pressed the little blue button to complete the transaction, the air turned the same colour as the button!


Clive H said...

Peter under pressure, a non drinker so a couple of glasses of a local brew wouldn’t help! From here it has to be onwards and upwards ๐Ÿ˜€

bitingmidge said...

Ahh Clive, I'm afraid that my headache was big enough!! But I fear that a couple of barrels of the local brew wouldn't help anyone though this nightmare!! ๐Ÿ˜

Vallypee said...

Sympathies. It’s a simplification issue that’s beciming increasingly complicated, even for those of us who live in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Ah! The floating chariot, looking good to me. The Hinter-net is becoming increasingly more difficult here in Melbourne. Recent transactions have the info. that my pin number has been sent to my mobile. Mmmmm? I don't have a mobile anymore. Who to ring? No options, so have to change method of payment. Bon Voyage. Roger.
Looks like I may have identity problems on this site too. Ho hum. Non-Google a/c bloke.

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