Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Bureaucracy

We, as well as many other sailors, have had unfortunate liaisons with New Zealand bureaucracy.

Our incident cost us $400 when we unwittingly checked into a New Zealand airport with ONE banana in our suitcase that we had forgotten about. We went through an appeal procedure with no luck.

Another boater needed to extend their Visa. They filled out all the forms and sent everything from Opua to Immigration in Auckland, 4 hours away by car. Immigration received the information prior to expiry of the Visa but informed the sailors they had used an old form. But yet the form had been given to them by a Custom official in Opua. The newer form was almost identical to the one they had filled out and did not ask for any different information than what they had already provided. It was impossible for them to fill out this new form and get it back to Immigration before their Visa expired. So now as overstayers, they had a $700 fine imposed on them. For a mistake that was the officials' fault.

The Custom's office even sent a letter to Immigration stating it was Custom's fault - not the boater's fault - but no dice. Even after several letters and emails, the sailors were told they still had to pay the fine as 'everyone is treated the same'.

Oh, really? Another boater sent their papers to Immigration with a courier that arrived 9 minutes after 16:00 - the time that Immigration closes. But the door was open and the papers were signed for. These sailors were informed that their papers were late and had to pay the $700 fine. They refused and demanded to speak to a superior (they had been dealing with the same official as the above sailors). They were reluctantly allowed to speak with someone else and were charged the regular price of $165 for a Visa extension without a fine.

Wait a minute - what happened to 'everyone is treated the same'??

Another incident involved a boater that incorrectly wrote 1 digit of their credit card number. Immigration sent a letter informing them that as they would have to redo their forms, they were now overstayers, and charged them the $700 fine. (I believe they left the country without paying this ridiculous fine.)

Some boaters, including us, would not return to an otherwise very beautiful New Zealand because of this bureaucratic idiocy.

BUREAUCRACY as defined by the dictionary: 1. a body of appointive government officials 2. administration characterized by specialization of functions under fixed rules and a hierarchy of authority, also an unwieldy administrative system deficient in initiative and flexibility.

Enough said...

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