Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Maia vs WINZ: the call-centre

In order to prove that I am in fact looking for work my job-seeker agreement said that I would phone WINZ every Wednesday for six weeks, from the third of January. Incidentally I shouldn't have signed this job-seeker agreement, I was so relieved that I'd talked him out of a course, that I didn't say that I would think the job-seeker agreement over before signing it. At the moment WINZ can't force you to do anything until your benefit starts, although that's going to change.

I also had to find out some really basic information (such as when my benefit was going to start). When I went in last week my case manager didn't actually get to that stage before he sent me away. He said he'd leave a message on my phone, and hasn't so far.

So today I got to deal with that font of inaccurate information the call centre (they once sent me on a seminar about starting a benefit when I wanted an accommodation supplement).

This pleasant experience started to the soothing tone of Bic Runga. I'm convinced that every government department was issued a copy of Nature's Best to play while people were on hold, and stern instructions not to play the stimulating tracks.

I started on the job-hunt information. So I told them that I'd contact four employers and that none of them were open because it was the third of January and New Zealand in general, and Wellington in particular, is dead in January. That I'd checked Saturday's paper and there had been just a page and a half of jobs and that this was probably attributable to the same reason. The contact centre worker wrote this in, and then asked me what I was going to do next week - and we agreed that it'd be the same thing, but probably with better results.

I'm glad I had that support in my job hunt.

They couldn't help me in my quest to find out what was going on with my benefit (except that the two other times I'd already called to try and find out weren't on the system), but they put me through to my case-manager, but he didn't answer his phone.

So I'm none the wiser. I still don't know when my stand-down period begins or how much money I'll be getting. My calculation is a start date of 12th of January (first payment 19th of January) and $266.32 a week (including accomodation supplement, but without the possible disability allowance and TAS) - as soon as I hear what the actual rates are I'll let you know if my calculations were accurate.

I actually saw my case manager go to the dairy as I walked past WINZ today, but I didn't take this opportunity to ask him what was going on. I figured it's very rare that stalking your case manager is going to improve things.


  1. In my (and many others) experience case managers almost never answer their phone, they also rarely return messages left on their answer machine, so don't even bother with that. The trick is to use the call center instead. They're difficult also, but persistence is the key, and complaint and nagging. Also remember that you will often get one story from one person and a totally different one from another.

    Good luck.

  2. Anonymous3:51 am

    It seems like you don't really need any help looking for a job. Not that you have one, but you seem to know how to find a job and have the basic skills needed to find a job. It also sounds like the system assumes that you don’t. Do you think the calls and feedback on the job search activities might help someone who is less literate and educated than yourself? I agree that there is little point in having you call on jan-3 but mindless adherence to policy is a hallmark of bureaucracy. As is a lack of response etc. etc.

  3. Brings back all sorts of morbid memories for me. I had a 9 week stand down from WINZ and never once got my Case Manager on the phone. I started to doubt she was even a real person as every time I went in, she wasn't there either.

    The Call Centre can really be helpful, it really depends who you get when you call - good luck, hope your calculations are incorrect & they end up paying you $2000 per week instead (yeah right!)

    Nick :)