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The Planet Outsourced

January 5, 2015

Sorry. I’m going to be a parrot today. I say, I’m going to be a parrot Audrey.

Would you like to know how I spent my respite morning today? Every now and again I get some leave from Planet Social Care. It gives me a chance to do other important things (like clean behind the cooker. Or iron my smalls). Trouble is, I often find myself arriving on another planet. Planet Outsourcing. It must be rotten karma, because today I found myself there twice.

First trip – I had to phone the company that Hillingdon outsourced their personal budget prepaid card system to. They changed contracts in December and I’ve yet to work out how to do an online payment with the new company’s system. Hillingdon sent out a four page document telling us what we couldnt do with the personal budget but overlooked explaining how you do use it. Everytime I’ve tried to do a transfer from the card to my account, I get an error message ” your payment application has failed”. So, today I spoke to an outsourced woman. It turns out that the link Hillingdon sent to all recepients of a personal budget was the wrong link. I’ve been on the wrong screen. Looks like Hillingdon sent a link to the original template screen that they must have been shown during the tender process. Since then, the prepaid card company have designed a whizzy Hillingdon clients only screen. Great – I am now on the right screen. I ask the woman to stay on the line whilst I try to do a transfer. There’s a bit of a hiccup when I try to input a paid to date because the drop down menu hasnt got a 2015 option yet. Im assured this is no problem – they havent got round to updating their system yet – I can just put a 2014 date in. All done. “Your payment application has failed”. The outsourced woman has no idea why it might have failed. Clutching at straws, she asks me if there is another adult in the house who can check that I’m entering the data correctly! The long and the short of it is that after thirty minutes we give up and do a telephone transfer for the money. After she’s gone off the phone, I think I’ll have one more try online. I changed the dates to a random set, set up a payment to me for £10 and it worked first time.

Next job is to try and have another attempt at sorting out Julie’s work pension. Nine months after her death, we’re still no further forward. HSBC have outsourced their staff pension function to a company called Towers Watson. But HSBC trustees still call all the shots. After months of them deliberating, they have now decided that Steven should be the beneficiary of the pension. I’m cool with that but it means we’re back to square one again and having seen my birth certificate, marriage certificate, childhood photos from Cromer, they now want to see Steven’s birth and adoption certificates, plus the property and affairs deputy court order. I made a complaint to HSBC but received a cursory response informing me that Towers Watson should be the people I complain to. Yet this morning, the woman from the outsourced company batted me away by saying that they only administer the instructions they get from HSBC. Shades of the DWP and Atos!

Time consuming, energy sapping, self important nonsense where nobody is responsible or accountable. I need to locate another, more healthier planet.


From → Social Care

  1. Auti Boy permalink

    Well done for perseverance, Mark. I’m in search of Planet Truth where the words ‘service’ and ‘care’ mean something other than lies and incompetence.

    The ‘vulnerable’ make for easy pickings by the worst in society who seem to get the power to behave as they like in their own interests without credible monitoring.

    Our political parties may become unusually interested in our opinions over the next few months. Time to put their intentions to the test, perhaps.

    All the best.


  2. Sally permalink

    So nobody at either end actually made a trial transfer to test the new system???

    There are now several books out about this. The con is that what is easier, cheaper, more profitable for a company is being done for the customer’s convenience. It almost never is.”Outsourcing” (horrible made up word) does not make anything easier for you or any of us. It wastes hours of our time trying to link up several services who have nothing to do with each other, and have no obligation to do so.Nothing works well, and there’s much greater likelihood that things will go wrong.
    Checking your own groceries never saves you time-it takes more time than the old system. Checking yourself in at the airport, paying to print the ticket yourself ditto.
    Each change was brought in under the sell that it would save time and improve services for the customers.
    So it is here.You now are the go between for two services.It is taking much more or your time and is far less effective than before.
    Once a service is outsourced whoever handed the service over is no longer responsible for any problems, even if they could have been seen a mile off and were flagged up by customers before the change.This is the most sinister aspect! The more a service is broken up and outsourced, the more immune to complaint are all involved. You simply hear that the so and so group “should” do X or ” are meant to do” Y and if the other side disagree its for you to sort it out.
    I have no doubt at all that whoever handed outsourced the payment service said that it would be better for the customers.One of the more surreal aspects of disability land is constantly being told that black is white.

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