Get­ting into the ACC

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

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

first

‘‘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.

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