I can’t believe it.
I still haven’t got the address from them!
As part of our annual reporting requirements at work, we (as are all Private Training Establishments in New Zealand) need to submit our Financial Viability documents. This mainly is our financial books for the year and a template so the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) can make sure we are still a viable business to fund.
Simply put, TEC doles out government subsidies for tertiary education in New Zealand.
TEC has undergone yet another restructure — we’re now talking hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in restructuring over the period of what, 5 years? — and part of that restructure was moving all administrative matters to one office in the Auckland region. We used to send our administrative matters to their Christchurch office, but now, it’s Auckland. We did receive the postal address (where you can mail things to them) for the new centre but never a physical address (where we can courier things to them).
Our Financial Viability documents were due on 30 June 2007. After mucking around with our accountant, our auditor and the figures, we finally got something worth sending in (we think). Our mail service, unfortunately, lets us down when we most need it, so I send all very important documents (like this one) via courier.
But looking through the information, I found we had no physical address for the new TEC administrative centre.
So I picked up the phone on 26 June 2007 and called the new help hotline.
After no answer the first two times, I finally got a hold of a woman at TEC. No, “TEC Help Desk, how can I assist you?” or any pleasantry like that. Just “TEC, so-and-so speaking.”
I said the normal pleasantries — “Hi, this is Scott from the National School of Aesthetics calling. How are you today? That’s good.” — and then explained the situation. “We have our financial viability documentation we need to send to your office, and I want to send it by courier to make sure it gets there on time. I can’t seem to find your physical address there. Can you please give your physical address to me?”
I got, in a very thick accent that I could barely understand: “PO Box XX-XXX, South Auckland Mail Centre, Manukau City.”
Me: “That’s the mailing address I have but I need to courier something to you.”
Her: “Use that address.”
Me: “But couriers can’t deliver a parcel to a post office box.”
Her: “Can’t they?”
Me: “No. That’s why I need your physical address.”
Her (accusatory): “Who is this again?”
Me: “Scott Fack, Director of Operations from the National School of Aesthetics in Christchurch.”
Me (speaking slowly): “National School of Aesthetics.”
Me: “Do you need our provider code? It’s XXXX.”
Her: “Oh. Ok. Our physical address is…”
I had her say the information about three times and, after her getting shitty with me, I though it would be best just to let sleeping dogs lie. It’s great when people know where they work and are familiar with their area, but I don’t work there. As I said to her, “I’m from Christchurch. I’m not familiar with Manukau City or Auckland.”
So, thinking I’d better leave this conversation before I do my nut or say, “Can I have someone who speaks bloody English?” (which, thank God, I’ve never said in my life), I thanked her and hung up the phone.
Aside from making me feel like I was going to blow up their building or something by asking where it was, she wasn’t very much help.
I looked on the TEC Web site. Nothing. No information on what the physical address was.
As a last resort, I thought I would try emailing them to make sure I had the right address because, to be honest, to me it was looking a bit dodgy.
So, on 26 June 2007, I emailed them. I specifically asked them for their physical address, i.e. where their building is standing. I explained the entire situation again. (This all took place within about an hour on the same day.)
After not getting a response, I thought I’d match it up with TEC regional office addresses on their Web site. Finally, I found an answer. I had spelled the building name, and the two street names wrong. Close, but a courier wouldn’t have found them I am sure.
I happily addressed the courier package and sent it on its way.
As a slight experiment, though, I thought I would see how long it would take TEC to respond. They are notoriously slow at responding at the best of times. When we were trying to get some courses re-approved for funding, it took them two months (yes, two months people) for them to switch it from “No” to “Yes”. It took me two months for them to do that.
I finally got a response today (5 July 2007). According to MSGTAG (a great programme, by the way, if you want to see when someone has opened up the email you sent them), it took TEC 8 days, 1 hour, 32 minutes and 11 seconds to open up that simple request.
4 minutes later, I got a response.
“Sorry I’m so late in responding. Our address is…”
Wait for it…
“PO Box XX-XXX, South Auckland Mail Centre, Manukau City.”
So my question is: Is it any wonder I have so many doubts about TEC’s ability to manage and adequately make rational and informed decisions on funding tertiary providers hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars when they can’t even tell me the bloody address to send a courier parcel to?