Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hop like a Bunny from the start… trust me!

Okay so here is a lesson you want to learn from me, don’t try and do any of the Birth, Death or Marriage certificates yourself, cause once you do that, and things go wrong, well then you sadly you cant go back and ask for a company like Bunny Hop to come and help you out.

Without going into all the pain I have been experiencing with this, I can tell you that I was not really foolish enough to go and do it myself, but I made the mistake of assuming that all that a company like bunny hop did was the waiting that you would have done.

The company where I work makes use of Leavit 2 Me which does all the leg work for the people who work there, so that work time is not interrupted by petty and irritating chores that can only be done during work hours – nice idea.

So I invoked that power and said, please go and get me some birth certificates for my two boys. What could possibly go wrong…  Well needless to say Murphy came out of the wood work.. but I will resist the temptation to go into that now, except to say that I am on week 20 ( I think ) and no closer to getting them.

So what am I saying here… well if you are going to get someone to help you, understand what they do, not everyone that helps is the same.

Some more detail, the processes that exist for the general public suck.. basically if you apply, you get dumped into a big bag and the bag waits patiently until it is full before it meanders it way up to the main offices. Decent services will courier up your request over night… you are probably already a few weeks ahead at this point.

Next there is some mythical searching process that takes place after the bag gets emptied, and I am told that it can take up to 3 months for them to find all the requests that have ( what sounds like ) been dumped in a pile.

Now a reputable support company will have people queuing at the key location when the request is lodged ( as an aside, it sounds like you really really really want to do this with Pretoria and nowhere else – again something that reputable services provider would know ). I am not sure what the queuing does, but somehow manages to make the requests filter to the top, and come out in a sane period of time.

Needless to say, the company that I used, simply applied on my behalf a the local site ( Durban… you really really don’t want to use them ) and left me high and dry. Not their fault they don’t claim to be home affairs experts, just not a you , it was my fault for not understanding and assuming.

Don’t make my mistake, because if you do, then you are in the horrible position where the request for the information is in the system, and then the support companies cannot help you, ‘cause they know that no matter what they do, the request will always go back to the place where it was first lodged…. so I beg you, pay the money and get it over with.

Protea Pacific Name Change

Okay just a quick on here…

If you are looking for Protea Pacific as of 2009 they have changed their name to IMMagine New Zealand.

I cant say I am a big fan of the change, but I guess if you can get past the inability to pronounce what you see written, then at least it does give an indication of what they do.

Changing a company name is hard work, since it is very pervasive, so I am sure for a long time you will still find reference to it by Protea Pacific, like right now if you go to their new domain, you still see the front page for Protea Pacific… but perhaps I am being unfair since they are only launching the new name in 2009, two weeks from now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Birth Certificates : Be Weary to follow up

Okay I have been having some pain when it comes to getting my Birth Certificates for my boys, which I am sure I will go into some detail with soon.. but here is something scary… umm I mean interesting to learn.

If like me, once your certificates fail to make it out of the mess ( I mean queue ) you end up in the customer support services section where they look at it once every 2 weeks it see if anything has happened.

But, and now for the scary part, every time you make a request for an update your “Urgent and Escalated Request” get pushed to the bottom of the pile…. They believe, in their wisdom, that if you have asked a question, and the person at the call center opens your efile, then something of value must have taken place, meaning that progress may have been made, so that request is now no longer that important and can be put at the back of the queue again.

This is great, so the more worried and urgent it is the more likely it is that you will never get what you need.

Don’t you just love the lack of logic, as if I the lowly John Q Public could ask anything that would change the urgency of the request, or even for that matter that the person at the call center could do anything… because I have it on good authority ( the big boss there ) the only thing they can do is submit a request electronically and wait the mandatory 2 weeks to see if they get any feedback.

…Sigh… crank crank crank….

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An International Blemish on South Africa; A Christmas Wish

South Africa has just cut itself in the international limelight; a paper cut; small innocuous, somewhat accidental, but painful, and sure to linger. But I have Christmas wish. 

I have recently read the following two blog articles by a prominent international blogger, Scott Hanselman. Where he tells two separate instances he has had in his current visit to South Africa. One where he enters the country and is treated rudely by the passport lady and an incident when walking back from the shops is harassed by some young boys.

My Christmas wish is that we would mend and tend our wounds; What would Christmas 2008 be like, if both, the passport lady and the group of boys, were to, simple as this, apologies.

Yes the boys may have just been playing a prank, or indeed may have a deep seated, firmly held objections to mixed relationships. And yes the passport lady could have just had a bad day, or indeed could be responding out of being “… oppressed by Whites her whole life ….

But Who Cares! Whatever the motives or beliefs, simply, one real person to another real person, apologies.

That would be all I would like for Christmas. Please.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Passport Photos, Look miserable

Yup, you thought it was a joke didn’t you, but nope it true. You are not allowed to smile in your passport photos. Just incase you end up looking like someone else!

Don’t believe me you can check this one out, from the Identity and Passport Service of the UK. Scan down to midway : But all follow the same rules.

Okay I know what you are saying having read that, Stephen you are over reacting, they are saying that because they don’t want people doing stupid things, that could legitimately disfigure you face.

But wait, check out this set of photos, once accpetable and one rejected.

But irony of irony, if you look at this lovely page you see the “imply” a passport photo with a smile.

You gotta love that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Police Clearance Certificates

And so the pain begins….
What could possibly go wrong getting a police clearance certificate.
This sad tale begins at the local police station, where rudeness is the order of the day, and the ability to copy the correct ID number from the correct ID book on the correct form eludes our office on numerous occasions, and he would not have noticed had Keri not spotted it.
But to his defense he was filling out the form rather quickly, I believe it only took him, to fill out both forms with name, id number and place of birth, about 45 mins, which in hindsight was surely a blinding pace.
After taking some finger prints, and having the ink smudged over our marriage certificate, we were left with our hand covered in ink and no suggestion of how to clean them. After asking we begrudgingly directed to a kitchen, which we were not allowed into, to get some soap, so that we could wash our hands with an outside tap ! Ahh nothing like quality service.
…Skipping over much rudeness when it comes to paying…
All in good time ( my British Clearance Certificate got back sooner ) one of the envelopes arrives, but alas only one, Keri’s. Mine however, managed to get lost in the mail.
So on the phone I get and ask if they can reprint one for me. Why yes of course we can, but it will take 7 days, call us back then.
…..Time passes, the earth cools……
Right one week gone… I phone and check if it is ready, and yes they say, however being a cynic I ask them to please find it for me, needless to say, the get back on the phone and say, well umm yes it is supposed to be here, but we can’t find it, phone tomorrow.
Right phone again, Yes they have it I can fetch it… so I get all cynical again, can they find it for me… oh umm oops it should be here, but we can’t find it.
Eventually I get someone on the phone who can help, and she say, yes no problem I will just reprint it for you, it should be done in a hour.. and an hour later I get a phone call all done.
Why oh why don’t you get those people the first time :-(

Friday, July 4, 2008

Go with the Pro ?

So, i guess the R60 000 question, should you go with a pro or go it alone.

So we went to one of the emigration presentations by a New Zealand emigration specialist, Protea Pacific . Now over the years I have become a bit of a cynic, and my first thought is this:

"You now have a room full ( I would guess about +-100 people ) who you know that at least 90% of them are likely to be leaving because they are fed up, frustrated or just plain afraid, and here you are trying to selling a me a service... hmmm I wonder which card you are going to play ?"

And sure as Bob, that was there; predictions of the rand dropping, comments on the inability to sell property, lack of future for your children, anecdotal stories of our natural south african aggression, implying how naturally stressed we are ( ie things are even worse than you imagine )

Tied to that was the analogy that getting to New Zealand is "like climbing mount Everest", you can do it yourself, but getting a guide is well worth it. Detailed descriptions on why you "have to suspend logic" in this process, because at the end of the day you are dealing with people who have authority to make decisions, with on concept of precedence helping your cause, and really what can you do from South Africa anyway.

However, despite all the things you would have expected from a salesman, there was the flip side. Their rates are huge, the cost to have a one-on-one 1 hour chat were enough to make you think twice +-R1000. The promise that even if you go with them, it can be 2 of the worst years of your life, in fact, our presenter, Iain ( and co-owner I understand ), went so far as to say that he would not want to make the move himself, despite having done this for 19 years now.

We took the opportunity to chat in person, and in that I genuinely got the confidence that what Iain was saying was honest and direct, not sales double talk, just sales talk.

I guess you cannot blame a salesman for using the current state of play to sell the product. If I were to try and sell some ice to someone in a dessert, I think I too might bring up the heat once or twice too :-)

So this is the route we are going to try...

I think at the end of the day, we will have enough worries of our own, in just moving that it will be a load off to know that there is someone there who will have a level head, have all the experience, and the contacts to help you settle in, and that is if things go well. If they go badly, then all the more worth the money.

If you have made the move, and have an opinion on this, I would be keen to hear it.