I have had one of those mornings where you finish up with the blood pressure through the roof and teeth ground down through so much gnashing of them throughout the morning.
There are many great things about living and working in Spain and then there are Spanish Civil Servants (Funcionarios) and banks, not the nice people who work in banks day to day, just the bosses and the computer systems.
Let’s start with Spanish civil servants. A bit of background first in case you haven’t read it here before. Spanish civil servants are the most cosseted, over privileged group in the whole of Spanish society. Spanish people do not aspire to be entrepreneurs in general they want to be civil servants for various reasons:
1) You cannot be sacked… ever!
2) You get paid 14 times per year with extra payments at Xmas and summer.
3) Pay is much higher than in the private sector.
4) You can spend all day doing sweet FA and nothing can be done about it.
The gravy train starts here. It is difficult to become a civil servant but once you are in let the good times roll.
Well anyway, recently the Spanish government announced that civil servants would be receiving a 5% pay cut. The unions called a general strike which was followed by 13% of the population, not much sympathy for civil servants there is there? I would have happily cut pay for the majority of them by 50% just because they are so bloody minded, lazy and such jobsworths.
Allow me to elucidate with an example from this morning. I parked my car in the blue zone in Lliria. This involves paying to park which is not too bad as it costs about 60c per hour. I didn’t have any change so I went around the corner to get some. There were two people in the queue so I took about 3 or 4 minutes and when I got back I had a parking ticket. I decided to look for the traffic warden to get them to take the ticket off me. I spent 20 minutes trying to find her, it turns out they were having a coffee and a fag somewhere. As I couldn’t find her I went to see a policeman who told me that at the town hall office opposite they would sort it for me.
In the office they called the traffic warden who by now was in the same square as me. I went outside to talk. I explained that I had been going for change and she said (Conversation follows)
“Well where is your ticket?”
“I just gave it to you.”
“No the one allowing you to park.
“I haven’t got it because when I got back to my car I had a ticket which clearly states I have two choices. Pay 4 Euros to annul the fine within an hour of the ticket or pay 20 Euros fine.
“To me it is obvious that you should have paid for a ticket then come to look for me with that ticket to prove you have paid.
“Well to me it isn’t.
and so on, and so on, and so on for ten minutes. Luckily I speak Spanish and can easily hold my own in these conversations/stand up rows however I dread to think how a non Spanish speaker tries to get round these situations.
In the end I was told in no uncertain terms that I was totally wrong while she was ripping up the ticket. So at least a partial victory for me. Why partial? Because I had wasted 45 minutes of my time for four Euros which I could have paid. However it is the principle of the thing.
Then I had to go to a bank because I had a letter dated the 2nd of July stating I had a debt of 18 Euros and could I come in and sort it please asap. I received the letter on Monday the 12th. I went into the bank to find that even though there is three days grace on these things, the deposit in cash I had made into the account on the 5th had only entered into my account on the 6th because “That is how our accounting system works”, and therefore the 3 days grace I had been granted had run out meaning that I had been charged for late payment. How much? 30 Euros!! So for an 18 Euro debt they had charged me 30 Euros extra or rather 166% on top for one day. Those interest rates would embarrass Payday loan lenders like Quickquid!
I was told to complain in my actual branch. Now I know they will probably refund me because the people in my branch are really nice and like me for some reason. However, again it is the principle of the thing.
So will I get an eventual win? Probably not. I have spent two hours this morning avoiding 50 Euros or 34 Euros of charges just because of my principles. Could I have spent my time better? Probably. Do I have yet another reason to hate Spanish Civil Servants? Yes just add it to the list of well over 1000 strong reasons for hoping that the government will actually get tough with them and cut their wages by 50% rather than 5%!
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