Rattling the Diversity cage

Bear with me on this, I need your opinions, please.

For my pains we are renting from a country estate which has now been transferred into a Trust. In October they raised the rent by £25 a month. Mrs Dave & I are on pension and therefore on a fixed income. We are lucky that most of the rent is paid for by Housing Benefit.

In October our housing benefit was reduced by £35 a month, meaning that with the rise in rent we are out of pocket by £50. I phoned the HB Office and ended up speaking to a person Not Of This Country. Not only was he Not of This Country but he couldn't really speak English. I became very frustrated at this and terminated the "discussion" saying I would call again tomorrow.

When I cnext called I spoke to a fellow countryman(woman), explained what had happened the day previous and asked for some assistance. "Oh, that'll be Walter". So, to my twisted way of thinking they know that this guy is incomprehensible but they still employ him as a customer facing person.

Apparently, the said gent had sent a form for us to fill out - Income and Expenditure which arrived a few days later. Mrs Dave & I created a spreadsheet and took it and the form to the offices the next day. Mrs Dave went into the offices to be greeted by....

Yes, you've guessed it.....Walter.

He was incomprehensible to my missus, too.

A few days later we received a letter back saying we had sufficient to live on....this is apart from the fact that our Outgoings are more than our Income and with the £50 reduction times are even harder.

Cue Mrs Dave phoning up and trying to highlight the fact that we are down a minimum of £50. In the end she had a rant about Councils bringing in ethnic minorities to tell God-fearing Englishwomen and men that they have to accept the decision made.


Are we racist????

I've served all over the world, we have friends who are black, Asian (my son is half Chinese), American (!!), Muslims, Jews, etc and I don't feel as though I am racist. But the current situation, coupled with the frustration of trying to get through to someone without a grasp of basic English, makes me think that on their Computer System they will have "THESE PEOPLE ARE RACISTS SO BEWARE" on our file.

Comments please....and don't hold back. :)
When your primary role is communication in english; then the ability to be coherent in that language is a must. That goes for everyone; as I'm also thinking of the incoherent teenage fuckwits who staff Naafi stores who can't string a sentance together without mumbling or grunting at you.

If you can't speak english then what are you really doing working in a call centre?
Dave were you both wearing your little white numbers with the well starched pillow slips on your heads again?

Racism is weird. Just because you have friends who are of the non-pink persuasion doesn't mean you can't be racist. It's all about perception and how others percieve your actions. I know of lads in mixed race marriages who are as racist as the day is long, but that is my perception. I don't consider myself to be racist but others probably do (even though I married an english girl) If you are perceived as racist then your actions have probably offended someone somewhere along the line. You can't please everyone all of the time. If your ranting at the council was based purely on the premise that a black man had dealt with you, then you're on dodgy ground. If it was based on the fact that he couldn't communicate very well then you should have asked to see someone else. Not being able to understand someone due to poor communication skills is not racist. Given the scenario you have explained some would say you are full blown member of the Facist wing of the KKK , but remember it's all about perception............you racist git ;)
No I don't think you are really a racist, but and it is a very big but, by allowing your anger at problems in making the system work for you to focus on the ethnicity of the person you were dealing with rather than the problems that both you and he had with the system you have really dug a very big hole for yourselves.

If I was the chaps boss I would certainly put you at the bottom of any pile and have any contact between a member of my staff and you very carefully monitored so that if there was a half decent chance of having you prosecuted I would have the evidence.

Now almost every one lets things get out of hand when they are angry, and say things they neither mean or would contemplate saying when not angry, but being angry with some one and bringing race into it can be very upseting, just as upsetting as having £50 a week removed from your budget.

I would suggest abject appologies are needed and fast or face more and more hassle.

Good luck, I think you will need it.
Slightly off topic but along the same lines, i had to collect my new passport from the passport office in victoria, london. i was questioned by an african chap who avoided all eye contact and who had a very bad attitude from the start and who could barely speak any english, as to my credentials and why i should be worthy of holding a uk passport (and this was after i had served my country for 13 years). His 10 or so colleagues behind the counter with him were all of the same ilk if you get my drift.
A few months later it turned out that most of them had been illegal immigrants working for the home office.
we truely are screwed.


Book Reviewer
You need to be outcome focused - antagonising gatekeepers is not the way to go in the system we have and his boss is not going to back you against him, particularly if there's the possibility of someone claiming racism.

I'm not sure about the abject apology suggested by an earlier poster as that could be misinterpreted as a signal to climb into you but I would keep any future dealings polite and professional whatever the provocation. If its really bad, do everything in writing, that way, you have evidence too if events turn in that direction.

Good luck.

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