So after our look at the student loan game plan on Tuesday, today we look at how to respond if you want to to further your student loan cause:
1) Calmly remind yourself not to swear or berate anyone because that gives them the only excuse they need to hang up the phone and send you back to square one. It can also nullifies the threats you will eventually need to make.
2) Get a paper and a pen ready because you will want to take detailed notes (ideally this will have been done from day one so you can quite specific dates and times to strengthen your case for their incompetence). Also write down the name of your Member of Parliament. Don’t worry, this will come in handy I promise you.
3) Get a crossword or a Sudoku to do while you wait online for the unusually large volume of calls. This will keep your blood pressure from going through the roof.
4) If the second person in the never ending passing game tries to send you to someone else, calmly explain that this is unacceptable, and ask for their name and personal work phone number. Then ask for their manager’s name and phone number. Be sure to record these. Then ask to immediately speak to their superior. They will likely try to tell you that their superior is not available, this is almost always a lie if it is during business hours. Calmly ask for who the next person in charge of a related department would be and ask to be transferred there. Remind the individual that you are recording this message as well as the time and date and that it will be referred at some point if you are not speaking to a management-level person in the next few minutes.
5) I almost guarantee at this point you will speak to a manager. Explain the problem that you have had and the fact that waiting weeks on end is not a viable option for you. When they try to tell you that it is “common procedure” to wait 5-10 business days in order to input a new date into the system or correct a minor error on their part, calmly explain to them that it is unacceptable and is not logical given today’s technology. If they still refuse to fix your problem (which they can do in about 3 minutes if they wish – trust me) remind them calmly of the situation and patiently explain that you have their name and number and have documented the time and date of every interaction you have had with student loans over the last couple of months. Then explain that your next step after hanging up the phone will be to email, snail mail, and phone your MPs office every day until you get through to someone to complain about this specific manager at the student loans centre. I find it helpful to explain that only a poor, desperate student would have this much time and energy, but thankfully this is exactly who you are. Then explain to the person that there are three current graduates of your school that work for your local newspaper (that has national syndication) and that given the huge amount of press student affairs and student debt levels have gotten recently, a sob story about being mistreated at the cruel hands of a faceless government employee who is supposed to try and help young adults might strike a chord.
6) Smile while you feel some bureaucrat’s rectum tighten to unprecedented levels.
7) Negotiate only with that person from now on through their private line. Emails can be deleted. Remember to mark down every time you call and remind them that you are documenting everything and that you are poor and desperate.
8) Enjoy the record time your student loan will be processed in.
While it is extremely sad that a how-to manual like this has to be put together, it is unfortunately absolutely necessary. I’m not exaggerating about a single detail. I find that in order to break through the organizational malaise you have to corner one specific individual (that is not a front line grunt) and threaten their job with any tool that is open to you (and even a few you might have to bluff). I’m honestly not a mean person. I’m polite, I open doors for others, I give up my seat on the bus, I tip well (for a student anyway), and I’m basically not a jerk. This is simply the ONLY way I have seen many people get through the system when common sense fails and hope is all but abandoned (sadly this happens way too often).
What has worked for you in the past when dealing with this student loans insanity that we have in this country?