Sometimes, I suggest throwing things out and am not met with tears, begging and sulking or refusal.  Sometimes, everyone agrees that the item(s) I am referring to are ok to throw away.  After I have done my celebratory dance, I set about getting rid of said items.  And here’s the thing.  As long as it fits in a bin liner, isn’t made of recyclable materials, and doesn’t contain any electrical components, I can just put it outside my house for the bin men to collect on a Tuesday morning (extremely early and extremely loudly).  But sometimes (and especially when you’re moving) there are larger items that need to be thrown out.  At the moment, I have a huge fridge and two televisions that need to go.  First I called a rubbish company.  I spoke to someone on the phone who will come and get rid of all the rubbish in your home, any size or quantity and charges by the volume.  A fridge costs an extra £120 (+VAT) to dispose of environmentally safely and it’s £50 for each TV.  Everything else is by volume.  So, £220 to get rid of these non digital TVs which are the old fashioned kind with the curved backsides.  I thought this was excessive, so I bit the bullet and called the council. As with most governmental offices, the council is a slow organisation that is slave to red tape.  There are forms for everything except what you need of course.  I usually try to avoid dealing with the council unless absolutely necessary.

First I filled in an online form, informing them that I had a fridge and a telly to dispose of.  This was extremely straightforward they emailed me right back saying they would come on Friday and it would cost £10, but that the items had to be outside.  Result!  I called to make the payment and told them that in fact it was two TVs and a Fridge and they said, oh, that will be £20. ” No problem,” I said, “shall I give you the long number on my card?”  “Can I put you on hold Madam?” so I am on hold listening to some awful music for a while.  He comes back on and says “I just spoke to my supervisor and he says you need an assessment for more than two items.”  I was thinking, assessment?  Will I need to pass a medical?  What if I fail?  Anyway, I asked what was involved.  He told me that someone from the council would contact me within three days and arrange to come to the house and look at the items.  This meant that I couldn’t reserve the date for the collection that I wanted (so that the movers could lug the stuff and leave it outside) and had to wait to be contacted.  My patience is not good at the best of times, and so at that point I was really frustrated. I mean, seriously?  An assessment?  The council employs a person whose job it is to go to people’s houses and confirm that the items needing disposal are in fact a fridge and two televisions?  How does one study for that?  Do they have exams where they are shown pictures of white goods and they have to call it out like a sad sort of bingo or something?  I held back from telling the very pleasant man what I thought of this system, and gave my details.  Amazingly the next day someone from the council got in touch.  “Are you calling to arrange to come to the house for the assessment?” I asked.   “Actually Madam, could you describe the items for me?”  “Well, it’s a big fridge – the exact dimensions are in the email – two large televisions and a double mattress” (just realised I will be getting rid of my mattress earlier, so thought I’d throw that in).  When can you come round for the assessment?”  “I am doing the assessment over the phone madam, I don’t want to waste your time.” At this point I am fighting the urge to laugh.  Not only is there someone whose job it is to identify white goods and rubbish, but he is so unchallenged by this task that he is actually phoning it in.  He said they would do it all for £25 though, so who am I to judge?  I just saved £195. ” Do I pay you?” I asked. “No Madam, the other office you spoke to originally will be in touch with you to book a time and take payment.”  So I am back to waiting, my favourite occupation.

It is always the same with red tape, it seems so pointless, and there are always about three steps too many,  but the phoned in assessment really takes the biscuit.  Sometimes the comedy is just there in front of you to appreciate and enjoy.  No purchase necessary.

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