Thursday, February 12, 2009

Copywriter/Editor/ITIL-knowledgable Process Designer for hire

Well, there's no more hiding it - the word is out (thanks, Simon!). Scott in Montreal got laid off and is seeking gainful employment in his field.

In a previous millennium, that field was Quick Service Restaurant Management (what, "fast-food" doesn't sound prestigious enough?)

But surely returning to that isn't the fate for someone with a BA in Communications and Journalism; plus over six years of experience writing marketing, technical and process documentation for different high-tech companies working in IT support activities.

At least that is my hope.

My first priority is getting the EI benefits set up so that if I don't find something soon, my kids don't find themselves foreclosed upon. As someone who has been actively working since he got his first paper route at 13, and has been without a job for less than 6 months cumulatively in the 26 years since, let me start by saying I have never, ever, received any government handouts (unless you include universal child bonuses and child tax credits). I have worked my whole life, and a good deal of it for minimum wage or slightly above. Even when I got my first McDonald's paycheck ($3.54 an hour, back in 1985) I was paying into the UI/EI fund.

Given that my former employer has seen all its usual avenues for financing dry up completely, and they can't even make payroll right now - despite having just had the biggest selling year in their company history - they have only promised the bare minimum required by law in severance pay. At that, they even demanded I come in and work during that two week period. So the upshot is: I haven't received any income since mid January, and only received my Record of Employment, required by the Canadian government to process my application for benefits, yesterday.

Being a hip, online type of guy, I decided to start by setting up an account and application on the Service Canada website on the day I received my layoff notice (I and 25% of the staff of the small Montreal head office, where my whole department was slashed). The website even recommended beginning the process immediately, whether the RoE was in hand or not, so that's what I did.

Before long, I found the form and started filling it out. Then I got to the place where it asks for the End Date of my employment (which was to be, officially, February 6th). Only: the application wouldn't accept my entry since it was later than the current day. Well I'd gotten this far and there was no overriding it so I decided the best way to proceed was to enter the current date, and then I would go back and correct it two weeks later, once the actual End Date came up.

Well, ITIL best practices for online service delivery demand an email notification and Access Management in the form of a username and password - the standard sort of thing Yahoo or Google or most utilities and online banking use for security, validation and service customization/quality of service.

Nothing like that over at Service Canada. As far as I can tell, they have their own proprietary practices, and I'm sorry, but they ain't the best.

Since putting in my request, I have been unable to retrieve it in any form; I wasn't allowed to print or save a copy, nor was I sent an email to tell me (or allow me to verify) my access credentials, or any link to where I might even view and edit it.

I did get a form letter in my (snail-) mailbox the following week, with an "IMPORTANT PERSONAL ACCESS CODE" (four digits) but no specific link on their website to actually, you know, enter my Access Code on, and, you know, actually access my application or anything.

They did include a 1-800 number, good during business hours and evenings. This proved to be useful after I was unable to navigate on their site back to my application, nor to any login button or place I could enter my spiffy four-digit "Access Code".

However, all three times I have tried to use the 1-800 number, I received a message telling me all their lines were busy and informing me to try again later. I wasn't even given an option to wait in a queue for the next available agent. Yikes.

I guess this is all part of making sure we don't lallygag about while living luxuriously off the public teat.

I'll post more on my experience soon. Right now I'm going to try the online service again and see if I didn't miss something the first 300 times.

- 30 -

1 comment:

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