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The red tape story

The red tape story


What is red tape?

The online dictionary describes it as excessive bureaucracy or adherence to rules and formalities especially in public business. The Merriam Webster describes it as “official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity which result in delays or inaction.”

Often it involves intensive scrutiny and obviously protracted and burdensome delays to the frustration of the customer. It sometimes hinders action and decision-making. Every institution must have their rules and regulations and security mechanism in order to survive. They are for the protection of all concerned, whether it is the institution or the customer, but these are sometimes used to cause inconvenience and delays.

Sometimes it is taken to another level by incompetent and overzealous staff members, who frustrate customers so much that they have to ask for their supervisors, or threaten to withdraw their money from banks or cancelation of the transaction. Many people know the frustration when after spending hours on a queue or spending days on a phone trying to get someone in the institution to answer your call.

There is the desire of the majority of people for fair play and worth for their money, but there are also those persons who want to cheat and appropriate what does not belong to them. Knowledge of this hardens institution and makes it difficult for others to have a quick and smooth transaction. It is sometimes a rocky road. It is sometimes a case of where the innocent pays for the guilty because of the distrust from previous wrong doers.

There are myriad cases out there. For example, one person made reservations for one adult and three children. For some reason the children were placed in seats far away from the adult. This was discovered before the airport visit and was changed so that they could be seated together. On arrival at the airport, it was discovered that the changes were not actually made by the employee. The clerk at the desk refused to do the changes. Claiming that they must do it at the gate. The one who arranged the ticket insisted that she must speak to the supervisor, and it was not until he stepped in, that the matters were resolved.

A case of dormant account.

Someone deliberately set up an account to pay bills online. The account went dormant according to the bank. There was still money in the account, but it could not be released because of the dormancy. The bank was contacted. Money had to be deposited to feed the hungry machine. Even though you are withdrawing from an account you still have to deposit to prevent dormancy. The customer did what the bank required by making a deposit and asking by letter for the release, but the dormancy status was not removed. Meanwhile, the first clerk went on vacation and another worked on it and matters were resolved. The first clerk returned and demanded a restart. He wanted another letter to show request for release of dormancy, even after two months. The customer had to ask for the supervisor. There was prompt action thereafter.

Many other people have their stories.

It must be noted that online banking is the way to go, as long as the security arrangement is hacker proof. It results in more convenience for the public, less crowded banks and streets in the capital. Going to the market place has generated an “all roads lead to the capital”. Easier payment and not unrealistic screening is always necessary. There is also need for less red tape.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: