Tuesday, November 28, 2006


This is the fourth morning that has been disrupted by the necessity of calling two tax offices, a water district, and the mortgage company, in order to find out the whereabouts of a check for taxes that was supposed to have been sent by the mortgage company a year ago.


I really dislike phone voice mail systems. Especially when they require you to say your account number multiple times in the same phone call and "please press nine" or "please press five" more than once.

The check is finally in the tax office it is not supposed to be in, but was mailed to. I am currently attempting to ascertain whether the mortgage company stopped payment on it. I have a direct line to the mortgage company customer service person who helped me last week, but every time I dial it, I get placed on hold and then redirected to the generic voice mail system that asks me to please press a number and please say my account number multiple times.

I dislike bureaucracy. And why can't we just talk to real people on the phone and not use these mail systems? And if we have to use the systems, why do they try to make the automated voice on the system sound like a real person, with "ums" and "all rights" and other things you know a computer wouldn't say?

Right now I am on hold to the (wrong) tax office to ask them to just go ahead and put the check in the box with the other checks they are forwarding on to the right tax office and let the (right) tax office figure out if the payment has been stopped or not.

There were over 8,000 households who didn't pay this water tax correctly last year (it was a new tax which even the mortgage companies apparently didn't understand), and all of us received foreclosure notices the day before Veteran's Day. There were so many of us that contacted the law office the day we received these that their voice mail system could not hold the messages, and so for an entire weekend most of us went about wondering whether foreclosure proceedings had actually started.

The reason the tax wasn't paid properly is because they farmed out the accounts receivable for this tax to a second tax office, but everyone (or their mortgage companies) sent their checks to the first tax office, which sent the checks back saying the tax had already been paid. The tax that had already been paid was the property tax and not the water tax. So everyone went for several months thinking their taxes had been paid. Then we all received notices that the tax had not been paid, at which point I got back on the phone with my mortgage company and found out all of this mess. I had them issue a check to the other tax office, which used to be the right one, but as of October (just as all of us poor deluded taxpayers were catching a clue) it became the wrong one, so the check (which arrived yesterday) must be either cancelled or forwarded to the tax office which used to be the wrong one but is now the right. (Getting a headache yet? I am.)

Then the week after I had the check mailed to the (now-wrong) tax office, the lovely pink foreclosure notices were received by 8,000 households, ourselves included, and all of us attempted to contact the lawyers and the tax office in any way we could. I finally got ahold of someone in the tax office the next week and asked them to please walk down the hall to the tax lawyers office and ask them to answer their phones. Which the nice lady did, God bless her. And I found out that these notices are merely computer generated form letters and no proceedings had been started, nor would they be started because there were over 8,000 of us who had been confused and frustrated by this prolonged and chaotic attempt to collect money from homeowners.

What was the name of that court where the cases are never resolved in _A Tale of Two Cities_? Was it Chancery? This whole thing reminds me of Chancery. I may have kids in college before this tax is paid properly. I need a secretary to handle this kind of stuff.

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