Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Government's Version of Convenient and Easy

Since I recently gave birth to a Canadian citizen, I'm entitled to some monthly money from the government (which I think is supposed to be for child care, but doesn't even cover diapers). Anyway I decided to use the goverment's "convenient" online service to apply for the benefits.

Step 1. I had to create an epass account. Social Insurance Number. Got it. Date of Birth. Easy. Dollar amount of total income on line 150 of my tax return. Darn it! Am I the only one in the country who doesn't keep her tax records handy at all times? I'm sure the answer to this question can be found somewhere in that accordian thing where we keep all our important (and somewhat unimportant) paperwork, but I didn't know exactly where the accordian thing was, or have any desire to spend an hour sorting through it. On to step 2:

Step 2. Phone the helpdesk. Guess what they asked me to verify my identity? Line 150. Maybe this is a super easy question that only someone completely ignorant of taxes wouldn't get. Guilty. Anyway, the helpdesk guy asked me a bunch of other questions and, when he was satisfied that I wasn't an imposter, gave me the answer. I would never have guessed that number. Anyway onward we go!

Step 3. I created my login an password and I was all mentally prepared to fill out a form and start receiving my goverment money. Nope. For extra security (and to make sure we still waste paper in what should be a paperless process) the Canada Revenue Agency has to mail me a security code. Not e-mail mind you. SNAIL MAIL.

Step 4. Wait. The website promised that the security code would be here in 5 days. Perhaps they were using some other planetary calendar to calculate those days, or perhaps the mail was slow because of Valentine's Day, but it took longer than that. When it finally arrived I had forgotten what login and password I had chosen.

Step 5. I tried all my usual password favourites, without success. Then I checked out my security questions. Unfortunately I always put bogus answers in for security questions because any truthful answer I think of is either so easy that anyone who has even heard of me can get it, or so abstract that even I am unlikely to get the answer (like listing an ex boyfriend as "first pet").

Step 6. Call the helpdesk again. This time the helpdesk woman suggested that I sign up for a new account, and assured me that I could still use the same security code. I started to do this, when suddenly it dawned on me what my password must be. I immediately entered it in and...received an error message telling me I was locked out from too many attempts.

Step 7. Wait 24 hours. Or, in my case, forget about it for two days. Finally today I was able to login, input the security code, and access a world of tax benefits to apply for. I clicked on the one I was looking for and put in all my daughter's info. I'm ready to receive my money, thought I.

Step 8. For some reason (to waste more paper) I need to verify my marital status. Now my printer hasn't had a cartridge replacement in quite some time, and has been printing light grey for at least of year (I keep shaking the cartridge to keep it going longer). I printed and filled out the barely legible form. My husband (yes I'm really married) and I both signed it, and it is currently sitting on my desk.

Step 9. Buy stamps.


Anonymous said...

Honestly I cringe when I get this darn cheque.... I hate the idea of having to repay it at tax time, why bother to send it to me in the first place, if youre gonna ask for half of it back!!
PS I love your blog! You don't really know me, though you know my mom Barb!

Super Happy Jen said...

I'm now mentally sifting through my list of friends and aquaintances for a "Barb" who is old enough to have children capable of coherent speech (and thus old enough to type a blog comment). Honestly I'm terrible at names. Glad you like the blog and thanks for reminding me that when I write into an abyss, sometimes people actually read it.

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