Some public digital solutions are crap 

By the Editor-in-Chief

Your correspondent has used three digital solutions that the government has imposed on unwitting voters. In spite of being very computer literate since 1965 to the present, the problems of dealing with digital solution are time consuming and wasteful

My recent experiences should pour cold water on the claims by various ministers that everything digital is the future of the world! If this is the future of the world then we better start to find aliens who can lift us off this globe!

The first experience was with receiving a new driving licence. I had received a letter in the post (yes a paper letter typed and stamped nicely) saying that I needed to get a new driving licence together with a doctor’s certificate to prove that I am healthy enough to continue to drive a car safely.

The doctor’s visit was uneventful and I received a paper certificate saying that I was in good health. 

Going to the government’s website, I was told that I cannot make an application for a new driving licence over the Internet because I was older than 45 years. The site told me to go to a private MOT company (“katsastus firma” in Finnish) that was authorised to receive my application in person. I then looked for such a company and found one 20 minutes drive from my home. I was informed to book a time since they were really busy, which I did. On the appointed day and time I arrived and saw that there was just one other customer there and nobody else. It was not exactly busy. I waited a few minutes for my number to be called – just like a healthcare centre and in I marched only to be given another form to fill in by hand. This took another 5 minutes. The information was the same as I had filled in twice before – then the lady typed this information into her computer together with the doctor’s name. After that I received in the post a new driving licence one week later! Can somebody explain why my public data had to be typed in so many times and why I had to attend personally at the MOT office?

The second example of digital chaos was for my company. I needed to invoice a government department for work done. The government demands that I use an electronic system for sending my invoice through the Post Office website. The system requires a secure log-in process using my bank identification system and then I had to register myself with the post office system. After 20 minutes I then had to input the same information 2 times in different parts of the system with repeated errors being flagged…. After 1 hour the invoice was posted to the government. One week later I received an email that there was a typo error and that I must reverse the invoice with a credit invoice, and send a new corrected invoice. I went to the Post Office system but there was no information on how to do this, nor was there any telephone number to call, so I called the government’s representative who told me that I must ask the Post Office. Then later that day the governments’ representative was kind enough to call me and said that I can cancel the first invoice by sending a cancel notice by email, which I did….

… and that brought me to digital experience number three. The government’ representative then told me that my company needs a special tax certificate that was missing, and I need to request such a special tax certificate from the Register of Companies. I went to their website and found such a page at the end of a search that took 20 minutes online. The request was made and I then received an answer that it would take some 4 weeks for the request to be processed. I await with gritted teeth for such a process after which I can send in a new invoice!

Your correspondent has been writing computer programs since 1965 – not much has changed judging by the above love-hate stories.

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