Saturday, February 03, 2007

Car tax woes … an example of ruthless efficiency

Driving a company car has its ups and downs. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about servicing it, insuring it, getting the tax disc (or a vehicle excise licence as I’ve recently discovered they call it).

The downsides are that the tax situation isn’t brilliant, you need to be particularly careful with the interior (as they charge you at the end of the three/four years for the cost of rectifying anything that they need to fix before they sell the car on), and sometimes the insurance can be a bit restrictive (for partners driving it when they’re working).

The car celebrated its third birthday in early January and over the last three years, the pros have outweighed the cons.

Usually I come back in to work after Christmas and find a tax disc in the pile of post, sent across town from the depot in South Belfast. This year I didn’t notice that there wasn’t one. In fact, it was only when a friend wandered in the front door one Saturday morning and casually said “You know you’re tax expired two weeks ago” that I realised that it was missing.

One phone call later and it turns out that there’s been a spot of centralisation. Cue Dilbert! Instead of the local depots sending out the tax discs (which made sense for Belfast since they come from Coleraine DLVNI and not Swansea DVLA), they all come from the one office in Birmingham. (Admittedly, soon Northern Ireland’s seperate licencing authority up at Coleraine’s DVLNI will be transferring to UK HQ at Swansea.)

They’d definitely applied for the licence. It was ticked in the file. (Spot the paperless office. Not.) But they’re not sure where they’ve sent it.

That was two weeks ago. After a few days away, I got back in this morning and found two envelopes on my desk. The smallest had a Coleraine address on the back, and was the duplicate tax disc, sent directly from DLVNI HQ to me. The second was from my unit manager (boss of my boss’s boss) from about six years ago. Lucky he was still in the company. Enclosed was a letter to him, with my car tax attached, telling him that it was for a “recovery vehicle” registered in my name in his department.

Recovery vehicle? If it was in my name, why send the tax disc to anyone but the owner? Arghh. So now I’ve got to send the original back to Coleraine like they asked me to do if it turned up—though it might just be faster to tear it into tiny pieces and bin it.

And I’ve now discovered from colleagues that this has been going on for the last six months. That’s a lot of £7 being wasted every time they have to apply for a duplicate.

So I phoned the central office back, to follow up on where they’d dug out such an old manager’s name from, why it was a recover vehicle, and why they didn’t always send the tax discs out to the owners. Feeble excuses, no answers.

Ruthless efficiency in action.

1 comment:

Stephen Barnes said...

This sounds soooo familiar. You don't work for BT by any chance, do you?