A few weeks ago (January 20th) I asked the CSA to send me a breakdown of what I paid to date, and what I owed. I recorded the phone call, because I knew they’d either lie about my requesting it or just muck it up. Sure enough, when I phoned back some weeks later they had no recollection of my having called (even though I had) so I asked the same question again.
This time a chap named Barney said he’d send me the details, which to his credit, he did. I did tell him I was recording the call though, so he’d have struggled to worm his way out of it.
I received my details through the post in a timely fashion; however, I also received something else. I received something which highlights a level of incompetence and lack of organisation that only the Child Support Agency has the ability to display. They sent me a printout of internal email between one of their accountants, Natalie Walters, and Patricia Corris. In the email, Natalie asked Patricia to update the details on a PWC (parent with care), and printed the woman’s bank account number and sort code for her building society.
This email was printed out by Patricia Corris, left lying around on the printer at the CSA in Birkenhead, and then picked up and posted to my address! In doing so, Patricia Corris broke data protection laws.
Here’s a copy of the email, with the bank details removed (because I’m not incompetent like the CSA):
Corris Patricia CSA Birkenhead
From: Walters Natalie CSA Birkenhead
Sent: 09 February 2009 19:42
To: Corris Patricia CSA Birkenhead
Sorry trish am on training now and the phones have been mad im trying 2 do me 2 pieces of post b4 she has me ha.
Will you update iico please for pwc bank details sc 165521 acct num ******62 thanks don’t forget
You’ll notice by the mix of broken English and text speak that Natalie isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, and by the fact that Patricia printed an email containing someone’s bank details and left it lying around on the printer for some other bright spark to pick up and post to random people, it’s clear that the CSA isn’t really filled with geniuses.
So, if you’re a parent with care and your bank is the Cumberland Building Society, Cumberland House, Castle Street, Carlisle, CA3 8RX, with the sort code 16-52-21, your bank account details may have been printed out and posted to me. Perhaps they’ve been posted to other people as well? Who knows!
The real question is, what did the CSA have to say about this? Let’s ask them!
Here’s the recorded phone call of what happened when I phoned the CSA to tell them of their gross negligence.
As you can hear, they ‘claim’ they’ll contact the PWC to let her know about the screw up, and they ‘claim’ that a manager will be involved. I doubt either will happen, so I phoned the Daily Mirror and got a journalist on the case. He spoke to the CSA, and received a grovelling letter back from them admitting the mistake, but I have yet to hear back from them, either in writing or by phone call. I was promised that Patricia Corris would call me to apologise, but she hasn’t.
Hopefully she’s been sacked. Hopefully the whole of the Birkenhead office has been sacked, but sadly I doubt it. This type of cock up is hardly out of the ordinary, and I expect the CSA will continue to do this until the whole organisation is shut down amid mass public outcry. How many screw ups will this take though? How many CSA mistakes must we endure before something is done?
If I wasn’t laughing so hard I’d be crying right now.