Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Need Help From Revenue Canada? Forget It!

Have you ever tried to reach Revenue Canada?  They provide a phone number for you to call if you have questions. The problem is they don't provide enough people to answer it, or sufficient lines to handle the incoming calls.

Recently they sent out a mailing saying that an additional amount was owed, but the reason why made no sense at all.  The phone call was made, to 1-800-959-8281 and made and made, more times than I can remember, but the line was always busy. Always.

I know tax season is a busy time of year, but last year I had another question that wasn't so urgent, so I waited until summer to contact them. Then, instead of a busy signal, the line just rang and rang. I tried at different times of day for several days and never did get anyone to answer that darn phone.

It's bad enough to be put on hold for extended periods of time, but it's far worse not to be able to connect at all. There is a definite flaw in this system, and I have not even found a way to let them know about it.

I looked online for an alternative way to reach these people. Believe me, even finding that is not easy. The Canadian Revenue Agency has every roadblock covered, so they can protect themselves from irate people who may try to interrupt their workday with their questions.  The phone number they give is useless.  Actually, the number is listed as being available from mid-Feb to April 30,  But when they send you the tax assessment papers, the same number is listed on those, and "available" is not a word I'd use

 Altenate ways, such as e-mail and call back services, are listed as having not enough interest to warrant their existence. How do they know that when the only people they ever hear from are the ones lucky enough to win the phone number lottery and actually get through to them.  There are a great number of people, like me, who simply cannot make contact with them at all. It's like they are saying, "Just shut up and pay me!"  In the end, that's basically what we did, but only because we know that they will add interest to the unexplained charge, much like adding an insult to injury.

This is not the first year this problem has existed, and I doubt it will be the last. For Revenue Canada, this system is working just fine. The complainers can't get through.


Friday, June 6, 2014

De-clutter Week 23 - Hidden Clutter

I keep hearing that computers save trees since so many things can now be stored electronically. I don't know about you, but I seem to have more paper than ever.  I do not find the few bills and other records that are now totally computerized to be as handy to reach for, so in the end, I often find myself printing them anyway.  That and the fact that you can't access your records at all if your computer is down, or the power is out, makes me want to keep as many things on paper as possible.

Even though I have a filing system, paper can still easily get out of control around here.  I have folders that hold certain types of records. Before those papers get into the folders, they get put into a specific drawer. The idea is to take those papers out of that drawer and file them on a regular basis. That regular basis seems to be when the drawer gets so full I can't put anymore into it.  Mind you, that can happen several times a year, but really, I should do it at least quarterly. 

This kind of clutter is hidden from the general public, but it still exists. The drawer overflows, and the folders fill up.  This time, I actually went through the folders too, and eliminated a LOT that I decided I no longer needed to keep. 

Now I have a bunch of shredding to do.  That's another chore, for another day.

This week I also went through some old e-mail and eliminated a lot of that too.  Next it will be the photographs taken since the beginning of this year. There is a lot of garbage in those files, especially since I started this de-cluttering project.

I'm not sure anyone but me would notice that these areas have been cleaned up this week, but I do feel like I've accomplished something that needed to be done.

We won't mention the multitude of recipes now available, that I also print off.  After all, my computer isn't in the kitchen where I can read the recipe off the screen.  I suppose, now that I have a tablet, I won't have that excuse.  I will still want a paper copy after I've made the dish, and had it family approved, just so I can find it again more easily the next time I want to make it. 

I have not been as good at weeding out the recipes as I had hoped to be by now.  In fact, I'd call that my one major failure in this de-cluttering project so far this year.  If I'd even given it that 15 minutes a day as originally planned, I might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by now.  Perhaps sorting paper this week was a wake up call to get back to that. 

If we ever get some nice weather though, you can forget I said that!