Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Thatcher is now working for BW

Do BW actually want your licence money?

I asked this same question last year in a posting Click Here

Its the same scenario again this year. Only this time I will go into more detail.

For three years I have had to take part in what seems to be a British Waterways pantomime. Year on year we seem to have to go through the same performance because the licencing system is archaic and the licencing team are dire. 

Last year in total frustration I ended up writing to Robin Evans in an effort to get things sorted out - I was allocated my own person to sort out the problems. (This year when things went wrong I tried to contact the person again - it seems that she, like Elvis has left the building)

Why is the licencing system like the canals so archaic? 

First of all if you choose to licence your boat on line do not use the supplied web address on the BW licence renewal document. It does not work. 

WWW.Waterscape.Com/licensing (1)

The link does not take you to the licencing system. It takes you to the Canal and River Trust Home page. Where BW/CaRT try and get you to donate some money. However, there is no link from the opening page to any form of licencing section.

I clicked each available link on the home page in turn Nada-Zilch-Nothing-Jack Shit.

Entering "Licencing" into the site search field and the search brings back 70 links to documents and pages. After reading through a good number of items in the list I chose one. It does not come with a clickable link - so I have to cut and paste the text in the document into my browser.

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/licensing/choosing-and-buying-your-licence (2)

There is nothing on this page about licence renewal  for existing customers - But there is a link to Applying for a licence. 

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/licensing/choosing-and-buying-your-licence/applying-for-a-licence (3)

For the first time there is a link to "Renewing an existing licence."

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/licensing/choosing-and-buying-your-licence/applying-for-a-licence#Renewing (4)

The link then takes me to a page where there is a link embedded in the text that says "renewed online." Not "on-line renewal" or even "renew on-line" it suggests a licence that has been renewed already. Not what I would call intuitive but the whole trip has been that way so far.

Clicking the link takes me to yet another page (5)

https://secure.britishwaterways.co.uk/boat-licensing/renewal/getting-started (6)

In the text on this page is a link to "Begin your renewal" Which takes me to yet another page.

https://secure.britishwaterways.co.uk/boat-licensing/renewal/login (7)

Now I get to enter my Customer Number and Renewal Number which I have from the paperwork supplied by BW. I get the terse message in red text" There were errors encountered processing your login. - Cannot find renewal with credentials supplied."

This is using the licencing renewal Information provided by  BRITISH WATERWAYS. I don't know why I bother!

De Javu - I am back at the same point that I was - last year and the year before. 

Why do I think that the Licencing team is dire?

Because even though I keep filling in the mandate each year it is a fruitless task. For the second year running BW has failed to submit the bank mandate to draw down funds. Yet again when I contact them they look at the moorings page rather than the licencing page. I have to remind them each time to look at the licencing page - Its happened to me so often that I now have a mental image of the system they are using.

Round three (this year) started with me being proactive and contacting BW to check that everything was in place from last year and going to work.It turns out that it was yet another cock-up. No Mandate has been submitted again... The helpful young lady says I will send out another direct debit mandate for next year. As we are out on the boat and over a hundred miles from home. I now knew I would have to do the same as last year.

So as I had to send in the blue copy of my new BSC to the licence team. I attached a note saying would they give me a ring at their convenience and I will pay the licence from my debit card over the phone.

I received a phone call a few days later on my answerphone saying all is well "the direct debit mandate is now set up" So I think - they must have submitted the paperwork from last time.

A few days later, I get another phone call from the licencing person from hell - someone who has perfected the art of pissing off BW's customers. With an irritated voice she starts to tell me that I owe BW money - I say "your looking at the moorings page which we pay each month." oh! yes your right I'm on the moorings page she admits.

I said I want to pay the boat licence for the next year -  but you owe us money from last September on the moorings says the irritated voice. I explained that some glitch in their system seems to carry forward some error and that it manifests itself with a different month seemingly at random. We discovered this endearing trait last year and the year before. 

I suggested that she should look at the notes placed on the system by Jean Hicks. There are no notes she says the irritated voice in an instant. Obviously without taking the time to actually look. 

But I just want to pay my boat licence I say. But you owe us money the irritated voice persisted. At this point I realised I was in contact with the licencing person from hell. I don't know why, but I had the instant mental picture of Baroness Thatcher in spitting image.

I was now getting irritated by her complete disregard for what I wanted to do, her indifference to try and understand the problem and the patronising tone she was now adopting. It was time to call a halt before I felt the need to give in to the urge to offer her some instant customer training advice.

So what do I do - do I write to Robin Evans and Tony Hales and try to elicit their help once more to resolve the issues. Maybe I should write to the minister at DEFRA and ask for his help to resolve my issue. Maybe my MP's help should be enlisted or even post my experience on line in the various canal forums. I have no confidence that the Customer Service team or the licencing team at BW/CaRT is the way forward. I could write to my independent boater representative - only the IWA who have been "elected" to the independent representative position by the IWA membership.  Plus the IWA have been snuggled up in bed with BW for quite some time anyway. So that route does not give me any confidence whatsoever either.

After all - it's only the third year and we all know that for the canals its death by a thousand cuts....


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