Getting into the ACC
Do New Zealand’s super moneymakers charge the sick and the lame on the basis of the more you pay this monopoly, the more they will charge you?
Knowing as we do how the Accident Compensation Corporation makes huge surpluses and profits – cool billions in recent years – mine seemed a reasonable question.
The basis for it came to me as I was sitting sullenly looking at the increased monthly amount the ACC was to draw from any of my earnings this year.
I tried to debate the issues involved with ‘‘Jonathon’’, a pleasant young ACC phone room voice – rules meant he couldn’t give me his surname – and understandably he couldn’t speak for the monopoly he worked for.
But he would could’’.
Clearly a long search – it lasted 20 days.
The response then from ACC business service centre technical adviser Chloe Idris began promisingly.
We were immediately on name terms: ‘‘Dear Patrick, ‘‘Thank you for your call on January 9, 2015, regarding the administration fee charged on your direct debit plan. Please see below for the information you requested.
‘‘Administration fee when collecting levies by instalment payment.
‘‘When a direct debit plan is set up and the duration of the plan is longer than six months, an administration fee is applied.
‘‘This administration fee is currently a flat rate of 5.4 per cent and is based on the total dollar value of the invoice owing.
‘‘find someone who
‘‘If new invoices are added to the existing direct debit plan, the fee will increase to reflect the new monthly payment amount.
‘‘Any changes to the original direct debit plan also adjust the administration fee, as the fee is charged per instalment.
‘‘We apply the administration fee in this way so if the balance is paid in full prior to the direct debit plan end date, our customers will not be penalised.
‘‘It also means that the fee is only charged to the monthly instalment payments going forward and not from the amount that the plan was originally set up for.
‘‘This fee is collected by ACC to cover the administration costs of collecting the levy by direct debit. There is no GST charged on the fee.
‘‘If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the ACC Business Service Centre on 0508 426 837. ‘‘Yours sincerely, Chloe Idris’’, etc. A pre-printed request on the bottom of the page said: ‘‘ACC cares about the environment – please don’t print this email unless it is really necessary. Thank you.’’
(I assumed that this was an appeal against wasting paper rather than censorship.)
Apparently I hadn’t scored any better with Chloe than I had with Jonathon when I branded the process as meaning ‘‘the more you gave them, the more they wanted’’.
I couldn’t see where extra corporate costs would be involved just because one sum was, let’s say, $1000 and another was $10,000.
Same clerical time, same forms, same prices in the lunchroom. Or have I missed something? Naively, I believed when some ACC person suggested years ago that I pay in one lump, virtually or actually in advance, that the corporation – notably its suits with investment skills – might be happy to get early hands on my money.
What other government fiddles are cloaked by similar ‘‘administration fees’’? Small talk: ‘‘Gleaming manes. Swishing (pony) tails. Polished bodies. Highly strung. Squealing. Snickering. Nervy.
‘‘Micro-managed feeds. Parading around to gain attention.
‘‘Is it the latest yearling sales offerings?
‘‘No, it’s the latest fillies on The Bachelor Australia. Cheers.’’ – Fiona Allen, Papatoetoe
Reader Leo Mckenna writing about years-long delays in getting court verdicts:
‘‘Maybe the answer is simple. Counsels, like councils, can take as long as they like; the longer they take, the more money they make?’’
Small talk: Bachelor fillies – Aussie style.