Monday, 25 April 2011

Student SGH vs. omnipotent bureaucracy – three short stories.

All presented in a bit weird way – as timelines…

Case 1 – Master’s thesis

September 2009 – I took a decision to complete all courses on Master’s studies within three semesters, rather than within four, as it is was set out in curriculum of studies.

July 2010 – To achieve the goal I began writing my Master’s thesis, with a view to submit it as early as possible and part company with my ignoble school.

12 October 2010 – I submitted a Master’s seminar application in the student office (dziekanat). I had a choice either to take two seminars in one semester (technically feasible) or do the first part of the seminar over the third semester and the second over the fourth semester. I opted for the latter to give myself a safety buffer in case I couldn’t make it in the allotted time, having in mind that it would put back a date of my Master’s exam.

5 January 2011 – I made it. Master’s thesis was prepared and approved by the supervisor.

16 February 2011 – I visited the student office to submit the Master’s seminar application for the second semester. Rules and regulations of studying clearly stipulate a student is obliged to do this within first two weeks of each semester. Despite this I was rebuffed and told not to show up there before I got the credit for the previous semester… Procedures clashed with the overwhelming system…

11 March 2011 – Having logged in to my account in SGH’s IT system I found out I had become a fourth semester student…

16 March 2011 – I finally submitted the hapless application, but was instructed not to put my thesis through an anti-plagiarism system, as, according to student office worker, the system was not ready to deal with theses uploaded by last semester student. I was also told to do this next week. Slightly bemused I postponed the process of checking if I wasn’t a copycat.

23 March 2011 – Same old story. Again I was ordered to wait for one more week.

30 March 2011 – I couldn’t leave the office earlier, so around midday I simply called the student office. I talked with another worker who told me I had been misinformed and the system had always been operational. Delay was then two weeks (or six weeks, if I was to count in the delay in accepting Master’s seminar applications)

31 April 2011 – I waded through all regulations concerning submitting Master’s thesis. One of quite bizarre ones was that it was not the student whose duty was to submit the thesis and several attachments by the supervisor in the flesh. I contacted the supervisor and asked him when he could go with me to the student office and handle all formalities. The only possible date was next Monday, around midday.

1 April 2011 – I took a day off at work (tapping my paid holidays) to wrangle with my beloved school.

2 April 2011 – I put the thesis through anti-plagiarism system, printed out the thesis and dozens of attachments, had my thesis bound, arranged a meeting with my supervisor.

4 April 2011 – I went to my supervisor’s work, where he were supposed to meet, unfortunately he couldn’t go out of the office, so he signed all documents and wrote at the back of an envelope a power of attorney for me to submit the thesis and attachments on his behalf. He pointed out the requirement that the supervisor was to do the job was virtually dead. Half an hour later, at school, he was proved wrong. The school followed all procedures… The whole day went down the drain.

13 April 2011 – My supervisor and I finally made it to the student office together and submitted the thesis and all documents. A student office worker, the one who had misinformed me, refused to confirm the receipt of the thesis and attachments and told us not to change workings of her always perfect office. I was also rebuked for reproaching the office over being open only three hours a day in hours inconvenient for working students – I was told to choose either to work and study on weekends or to quit the job and study in day-time mode.

Since then I have received credit for my Master’s seminar and my thesis has been handed over to a reviewer. According to the regulations, he has one month to review the thesis. If he doesn’t he won’t be penalised in any way. And this is the worst – for such misconduct or neglect of duties people should be fined. A fine of 1,000 PLN would make them meet deadlines… Of course now I don’t know when the reviewed thesis will be returned to student office and when the date of final exam will be set, but somehow I don’t hope for the best…

Cases 2 – Driving licence

9 May 2006 – My first medical check-up. A doctor came to a driving school, charged 100 PLN, asked if I was healthy and checked my eyesight. My glasses then weren’t powerful enough and I was prescribed a temporary driving licence, valid five years.

January 2011 – my driving licence was to expire on 9 May 2011 so I took first steps to find out what to do to have it prolonged. I had to do a medical check-up and obtain a doctor’s certificate with no counter-indications for driving. In a health centre I was told to wait until I got a health-care package from my employer to bring down the costs…

14 April 2011 – a real struggle began. I made several call to several health centres. In each I was told to do a different check-up, to visit different doctors, some even wanted to send me to a psychiatrist. I tried to do the whole thing at work and one colleague from different department, who overheard to whole conversation (another ‘advantage’ of open plans) told me to go to a doctor from a chain of health centres at which my bank purchased packages for employees. She said that doctor did the whole job even in transport department of my gmina, so what she said sounded like rubbish. Eventually, after find it out which examination I needed to have done, I was left with the choice either to go to a private health centre 500 metres near my house or to have the check-up in Warsaw. In both centres prices were prohibitive and nothing was included in my package. The case was, however, that according to new transport law I had to have level of glucose in my blood checked and this had to be done on empty stomach. The health centre in Warsaw did it only in the afternoon, so I plumped for early hours on Thursday, 21 April and took another paid day off.

21 April 2011 – I reported to the nearby health centre. On the door I saw the sticker advertising medical services provided in partnership with the chain of health centres I have my health care package with. To my surprise two out of three check-ups were covered by my employer and I only had to pay 70 PLN instead of 149 PLN. One nice surprise. I had my driving licence prolonged by ten years. In the transport department things went on quite smoothly, after queuing up for some forty minutes. After forking out 154 PLN and tapping a day off I wait for a new driving licence, which I won’t probably pick up before my old one expires, but this is really a minor issue.

Case 3 – Cyfrowy Polsat (this one dedicated to Scatts)

1 October 2009 – after terminating the contract on Neostrada we bought a subscription to Play Online Mobile Internet and wished it delivered a better service than Tepsa

2010 – Play Online sucked… Couldn’t wait to the end of the contract. They declared the maximum connection speed would be 1 Mbps. Actual speed reached in peak hours around 60 kbps, as much as on my first dial-up modem in 2001…

March 2011 – I researched mobile operators’ mobile internet offers. I ruled out Play out of hand, then what three main mobile operators offered didn’t seem interesting and in the light of the fact their networks were already congested even off-putting. Once I found a leaflet advertising Cyfrowy Polsat, checked their page in the internet and settled on their plan 3 GB + 9 GB for 50 PLN. I told about it my parents and my father, after he heard the name of our new provider, immediately hatched the idea of buying the internet connection bundled with satellite television.

2 April 2011 – my father and I set off to the nearest shop of Cyfrowy Polsat in Piaseczno. It was supposed to be open on Saturday from 9:00 am. We arrived there at five past nine and it was closed. We hung around for 40 minutes and the owner failed to turn up. I called CP’s customer service and heard they couldn’t help it as this was an outlet run under franchise contract and the closure was its owner’s business… Back home I found the old leaflet which contained the number of CP’s sales representative. He agreed to visit us at home and came around some two hours later. A man in his 50’s seemed to have had problems finding a better job and was forced to foist CP upon people. Clunky but honest, he didn’t persuade us to buy a mobile phone with CP, nor to order extra TV packages. Having acquainted with offer we plumped for internet + sat TV bundle and placed an order. The rep was to hand over the order to a technician who would be supposed to contact us and deliver a satellite dish, a decoder and internet devices.

14 April 2011 – till then nobody got in touch with us. My father called the rep, who said he had forgotten about the order, but promised to mend his ways.

15 April 2011 – the technician called and said he would turn up with equipment and contracts the other day. He told us to wait all day long for him because he didn’t knew when he would be able to come…

16 April 2011 – a quarter before nine the technician called to let us know he would be in ten minutes. My father told firmly the technician and his assistant would start installing the dish only after he finished reading the contract. Ten minutes upon their arrival technician were drilling holes in the wall of our house and my father handed me the contract and attachments to read it, as he didn’t… The contract included two factual errors (wrong prices), three understatements and lacked all attachments. I called the customer service of CP, learnt they have three lines, one for TV subscribers, one for internet and mobile phone subscribers and one for potential clients. Having talked to seven consultants after forty minutes I established I was right to have deemed the contract flawed. In the meantime the technician mistook the cardinal points and drilled four holes in the western wall of our house, which turned out not to be the southern wall. The holes remained but Mr technician did not give up and decided to fix the satellite dish to the existing aerial mast with terrestrial TV and radio aerials. He accidentally dismantled my FM aerial which provided excellent signal to my Hi-fi system, my father didn’t bother because the thought this aerial was totally superfluous. Finally we ended up with not signed contracts, satellite dish hung and wires attached to the outer wall and pulled into the drawing room. An hour after the technician left wires came off the wall. The rest of the day was spent on fixing the wire back to the wall and laying it under baseboards in the drawing room.

21 April 2011 – they came again, installed everything and now it even works.

Internet connection, compared to Play Online works like a miracle, TV is OK, hope further dealings with customer service will not be a pain in the neck…

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