Thursday, 5 April 2007

Red tape - the 'belts' in Japans' engine

How the Japanese love red tape and long-winded processes!

I don't mind a good sensible system with forms and checks but today I relived the experience I had with Vodafone, now Softbank, when I helped Jacob and his new room mate get mobile phones.

In brief, when I got my phone from Vodafone last June I had to go through all sorts of hoops, fill out forms in octicate, wait five days and shout at the staff to pull their fingers out.

Apparently as of 1 April there is a new policy in place at Softbank regarding ID requirements. In the past you just needed your passport, now you need your passport and Alien registration.

Now when you first arrive here you have to register as an Alien. You get a certificate issued which you use before your official plastic card thing arrives two weeks later. The guts of the dispute with Softbank today was they were asking clearly for the card and I was arguing with them more than clearly that their English material stipulates they require a certificate. Now the chap was being a bit Japanese and exercising his sphincter muscle over the fact I was laying into him.

He was quite good at English and I asked him the star question - "Do you know what the English word 'bullshit' means?" He said yes. I told him that what he was saying was 'bullshit' and that we would not be accepting their policy because their argument was flawed. I also leaned on him about how many people we could tell about the bad Softbank service considering how many new teachers Jacob and I have contact with.

Anyway, as Japanese do, a short natter on the phone to someone (?President?) and wallah we had phone services coming out our ears!

In true Cole-style, I had ensured Jacob and his new room mate had all the paper work in perfect order before we went. I'd already been through a five day trauma last year with this company and knew that if you went in there with your homework done they couldn't stuff you around.

You've gotta get ballsy with these folks. They'll give you the run around if you let them. Don't accept their nonsense and their inability to be flexible in a process. And a final warning, if a company is going to print English marketing material then they best have their English pretty clear otherwise they could find themselves in a dispute over the difference between a card and a certificate.

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