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How VAC Gets Clients Upset with Poorly Staffed Responses

prairefire

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This exchange of correspondence through the My VAC account secure messaging is one more example of how DVA manages to irritate clients with their frequent  non-answers and obfuscation.  My request was rather simple needing only a yes or a no and I would have accepted what ever response they were to give me. I of course would want a Yes but given my current heart condition I was not going to get overly stressed over a No answer. I was just hoping I would get an answer.

My VAC Account Messages

Sent: UTC 2015-01-30 02:15
On January 30, 2015, which is tomorrow as I write this request, I will be undergoing my Military Pension Exam at the OSI Clinic in Winnipeg to determine my (?) permanent/stable rating for PTSD. On April 17Th I am scheduled to under go a rather significant operation and will be in hospital for at least 2 weeks if all goes well and will be in recovery for 2 to 3 months. I will be having a Cardiovascular Arterial Bypass Graft as my main artery to my heart is 100% blocked and three others are between 20% and 80% blocked. At this time I am operating on only 30% of my heart capacity. I have previously had angioplasty so the only option for treatment is open heart surgery.

I am requesting, if at all possible, that the final disability award amount be adjudicated as expeditiously as possible. The surgery has its risks and I feel confidant of a positive outcome but I would like to have any outstanding issues settled before the surgery. I understand that you can only act on my request once you are in possession of the final medical report and that the receipt of that report is not under your control. I wish only that you look favorably on my request.

Veterans Affairs Canada
Sent: UTC 2015-02-09 20:51

Dear Mr. XXXXXXX,

Thank you for using My VAC Account and our secure Email services.

We have forwarded your request to your paramedical assistant
for response.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact
us again via My VAC Account or our toll-free number 1-866-522-2122.

Sincerely,

Mike Franceschini
Inquiries Analyst
Veterans Affairs Canada

ME
Sent: UTC 2015-02-11 04:05

1. Thank you for your reply but please let me respectfully note that you have politely avoided responding to my request. It is this type of pro forma response that often causes your clients to get very upset. Let me list the reasons that I think your response is an obfuscation, or other wise delaying response.

2. My initial request was sent on 30 January 2015. Your reply took 9 calendar days. Let us allow for 2 weekend days therefore your response took 7 business days. Your service standard says 1 to 5 business days.

3. In the 7 business days that you have had my request I will accept that due to the volume of traffic you might receive(and I have no specific knowledge of) it will take 1 day to process the message and route it to the correct office/desk.

4. In the 6 days remaining you could have contacted me and ask for a medical confirmation of my condition if it was felt necessary to justify the request for the expedited review. You did not.

5. Before replying you could have contacted the appropriate office and asked if it was even possible to expedite the request and than had that reply sent to me. Allowing for one day to send the request and 1 day to receive a response that would have left 2 days in hand to reply to me within your service standards.

6. Instead I receive an answer that is not an answer but delay and obfuscation. Do you wonder why so many of your clients get upset with VAC?

7. As of today I am on 24hrs notice for my Open Heart Surgery as my condition continues to deteriorate and I have been moved from Serious to Urgent




 

Fishbone Jones

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Not to sound callous to your condition, and best of luck BTW, but how many times have we heard it. Delay then deny, wait for them to die.

I hope your surgery goes well and you're around a good long time to become a thorn to them and receive every penny owed to you.
 

ixium

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Still at week 24 of 16 on waiting for their decision AFTER they had all the medical information.
 

Teager

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Prairefire I have had the same issue with responses from VAC through the message system. I asked three questions. My first question was for them to mail an application out as the form was not loading on my computer. That question was answered with a vague response that did not say they would mail it out. My other two questions were simply ignored.

Seems like whoever responded to me did not have the knowledge or training to answer my questions.
 

prairefire

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Recceguy, you are not being callous just realistic. Eighteen months ago I was awarded the entitlement for the PTSD and have spent the time since doing some very satisfactory counseling and adding tools to my tool box to deal with my PTSD and the improvements have made my life with my wife and family much improved and very fulfilling. The nights can still be difficult but I have made an accommodation with myself and my mind.

My heart condition is unfortunately genetic, my grandfather and father both dies as a result of naturally high levels of cholesterol and the effect of blocking arteries.
My PTSD has contributed to my heart condition but it is not the underlying cause.

Thanks for your words of support and I hope other may provide examples of such poor staffing. I do not wish to appear as a ranting disgruntled Vet as I have had many positive experiences with DVA but every now and then something like this happens and you think ..... What the $%$#@!!! I t really is so easily fixed by having the staff properly trained on giving direct and clear answers to questions or requests.

Good night to all as I need to take my Nitro and go to bed as my Angina is acting up.


 

prairefire

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Just an update on my original post. I decided to call the Deputy Ministers Office to discuss the response to my initial request and that this was another example of how VAC gets their clients upset with non-responses to requests. The Executive Assistant took notes of everything, sounded genuinely surprised, and took my details and said she would follow up. I explained to her that in my opinion many of the departments problems and bad relations with their clients is largely self-inflicted. They need a head to tail correction of the "processes" that they follow. She thanked me for my input we said good-bye and I figured that was the end of the matter.

Not 3 hours later I get a phone call from a client service officer at my DO saying that a Ministerial Inquiry on my case has been started. She explained what that meant and that she was going to ask for a "Red Zone" which I had never heard of before. Once she explained it to me then I said why did they not tell me when I made my request that there was an existing process that can be initiated by the client with their case worker or at the  District Office. Just another example of how DVA does not tell their clients what options may be available to them.
 

Colin Parkinson

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To be fair, often a e-mail to a general inbox will generate a auto response which at least lets you know they got and might include a a very general statement.
 

Fishbone Jones

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I have a flag on my file that lets me bypass everyone else and speak directly with my District Manager if I have a problem with anything stalling.
 

Teager

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Colin P said:
To be fair, often a e-mail to a general inbox will generate a auto response which at least lets you know they got and might include a a very general statement.

Prairefire is using the My VAC Account message system. You get a response in about 5 business days or less. There is no auto response as your question is answered by a person who has there name at the bottom of the reply. Once VAC has sent you a response they won't send you any other responses unless you send them another message.

The nice part of the message system is that it is a good way to document what is said between you and VAC. This can help with any future disputes.
 

Towards_the_gap

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Kinda along the same lines but slightly different VAC-WHY-YOU-SO-FRUSTRATING-rant...

..I use the 'My VAC Account quite regularly to submit claims. Mighty easy, quick and effortless. I used my bank debit card as a sign in credential.....until my debit card was replaced. I asked at the bank 'will anything change regarding online banking?'

They reply 'no it will all migrate to your new card'.

'Great, thanks!!' Says I....

...until....

I try to login to My VAC again... It spits out my card number saying that as my credentials have changed I need to re-register. 'Sigh' says I...carrying on with the process. It takes me to a page where it asks if I have ever submitted any forms/claims to VAC before, click yes, it gives me 3 options to renew my online credentials. 1 is a login code given to me by VAC.. No dice says I. Option 2 - some identity proving 'secret questions'. Awesome thinks I and clicky-clicks the link. Uh-oh, since I've used VAC before I must login using a different method (WTF thinks I), back one step to the 3rd option, using CRA to prove my identity.. A couple of clicks later it asks for my SIN and DOB, enter that successfully, wait for page to load.. .'Please enter Line 207 from your 2013 Tax return'

OMFG thinks I.

Now I have to spend 45 mins trying to track down this return which is stored on the web somewheres. Finally find it, go back to that page, enter it successfully and get ....wait for it...

'CRA will send out a confirmation code to the address on file. Please enter it below. Please allow 5-10 business days for it to be delivered to your home address'

Why is this system so mind boggling obtuse and inordinately secure?????? Do VAC pensioners personal details actually consist of Top Secret material? Did a masochist design the security system for My VAC?

If it is this frustratingly intricate for me, a 34 year old, pretty computer literate guy with non-arthritic fingers, imagine how awful it would be for an 80 year old who still thinks colour moving pictures are a pretty neat idea??????


/Rant over
 

reccecrewman

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Also of impressive note - I wrote a letter to Mr. O'Toole on Tuesday morning.  I just now (well, 10 minutes ago, but still 7:30 at night, and after hours) received a very good response from the Minister.  A 3 day turnaround for a letter from the MVA? Christ, I wrote a letter to Minister Blaney a few years back and it took 5 months to hear anything back, and what I did get back, was a bunch of whitewashed bull****. This new MVA genuinely seems to want to make some changes.... will it be permitted though? Watch and shoot I guess.

I'll share a small direct excerpt from the Ministers correspondence with myself;

"VAC needs to re-assess all of our communications to veterans because some will be received by people who may be struggling and the last thing we need is having a cold sounding letter arrive at a home.  I am already looking at re-vamping key correspondence to be framed in a way that is easy to understand and compassionate, while also serving its purpose."

This seems to be exactly what prairiefire needs.

 

reccecrewman

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recceguy said:
I have a flag on my file that lets me bypass everyone else and speak directly with my District Manager if I have a problem with anything stalling.

Define "stalling"? What waiting period must pass before you pick up the phone to grease the wheels?
 

Fishbone Jones

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reccecrewman said:
Define "stalling"? What waiting period must pass before you pick up the phone to grease the wheels?

Look, you've already said I'm not entitled to what I have. You have no idea what my circumstances are or what arrangements I have with VAC.  My file is over 15 years old. I get that you like to defend your employer, but the fact is, even working there, you don't know as much as you think you do. I don't even have to be dealing with a claim, etc, to speak directly to the District Manager. It can be as simple as requesting more funding for medical equipment without dealing with and leaving messages waiting for my Case Worker, the one you say I'm not entitled to  ::), to return from a training session or sick days.

You may as well quit wasting everyone's time and stop trying to bait me.

edit - for those that didn't read the earlier parts of the thread when District Manager was used and can't make that connection to DM as its short form  ;)
 

dapaterson

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See, some of us read DM and think "Deputy Minister" and think "Wow!  Recceguy's got a direct line to Walt Natynchuk!"

 

George Wallace

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dapaterson said:
See, some of us read DM and think "Deputy Minister" and think "Wow!  Recceguy's got a direct line to Walt Natynchuk!"

Perhaps he does.  The DM was a young officer who went on to become CO of our Regt and has a steel-trap memory.  Certain members of the Regt also stood out above others for various reasons.  Possibility is there.  >:D

I know the DM knows me quite well...... ;D
 

reccecrewman

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recceguy said:
Look, you've already said I'm not entitled to what I have. You have no idea what my circumstances are or what arrangements I have with VAC.  My file is over 15 years old. I get that you like to defend your employer, but the fact is, even working there, you don't know as much as you think you do. I don't even have to be dealing with a claim, etc, to speak directly to the DM. It can be as simple as requesting more funding for medical equipment without dealing with and leaving messages waiting for my Case Worker, the one you say I'm not entitled to  ::), to return from a training session or sick days.

You may as well quit wasting everyone's time and stop trying to bait me.

I'm not "baiting" you at all! You pointed out that you have a direct line to the District Manger, which doesn't exist.  I was a bit surprised by that title as it doesn't exist.  There would be the Client Service Team Manager (CSTM) who is a District Office Manager, then the next up is the Area Director responsible for a group of District Offices within a geographic area. I was also merely asking how long you were willing to wait before calling in the heavies.  I never said your were not "entitled" to a Case Manager, I merely pointed out that the bulk majority of Case Managed clients are in fact, not in your position of full-time employment, most are not able to work for any number of reasons.

As for not knowing as much as I think I do, I know a helluva lot more than people who have never worked the other side of the counter at a VAC District Office.

You're right, I know not a thing about your file or circumstance, other than what you have provided on these forums, but while you like to point out that I like to defend my employer, there is ample evidence on these forums going back years that you have a burr under your saddle when it comes to VAC, and encourage people to be as bellicose as possible when they deal with VAC.

I'm going to say this once - I get frustrated with people who are in a rush.  I don't have tolerance for people who seem to think their needs supercede everyone else in the queue.  When Canada wide, District Offices are inundated with work items, many of them months old, and an unappreciated, understaffed and overworked group of people are trying their best to serve Veterans despite the deep cuts to the Department, there are people who want special privileges.

Bait you? Not at all - but when I see an individual bragging about their direct line to an Office Manager or Area Director to get them to turn around and go to a CSA who is currently trying to get a 94 year old WWII Veteran his scooter and order them to stop and drop (I've seen it happen) on that item and deal with the vocal, angry client, it gets to me.  Especially when its for something as simple as not being willing to wait a day or two for your Case Manager to return to work.  To me, your original post came across as bragging about how quick you can get service whereas everyone else has to hurry up and wait and I was offended by it.  Should a Corporal down in a line Squadron get the privilege of sauntering into the SSM's office whenever he feels he has a concern he wants addressed?  No - he sends his beef up the C-o-C.  Now what, VAC is going to get deluged with Veterans demanding direct lines to CSTM and AD's so they can jump on the gravy train too?

I've said my piece and am done.  You have your views, and I have mine. Nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree I guess.
 

Fishbone Jones

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I call the VAC line. The person that routes calls picks it up and asks where I would like to call. I tell them to look at my file and put me through. BTW, this was not me bitching and moaning that got me there, as you suggest, but her solution and decision.

Yeah, I'm bitter. I've been fucked over by VAC more than once. It's not a reflection on the employees so much as a condemnation of the organization and the archaic and medieval way they approach service.

As to your self righteous indignation about me jumping the queue, and punting some 94 year old veteran to the curb and denying him a wheel chair, again, you don't know my file. So you should just keep your outrageous apples and oranges comparisons to yourself.

However, your right. Agree to disagree. 
 

Gunner98

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reccecrewman said:
When Canada wide, District Offices are inundated with work items, many of them months old, and an unappreciated, understaffed and overworked group of people are trying their best to serve Veterans despite the deep cuts to the Department, there are people who want special privileges.

Isn't this the real crux of the issue.  An organization that is understaffed and has overworked people doing a job inefficiently yet it continues to turn in funding $.  If the Department can't meet the timelines then they should either hire more people or change the timelines.  I don't think the staff are unappreciated, it is the whole system that makes it hard to serve the Veterans - effectively or efficiently. 

Ignore the argument about those who want special privileges, how about making SMART goals and objectives at a departmental level.  I hate being referred to as a "work item"; we are veterans who served our country, were injured, can read the serve timelines and for many of us, our years of experience in uniform taught us that workarounds and complaining were the only ways to ever get the job done.
 

kadrury86

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Similar issue here. I sent my stuff into VAC for my mental health disorder in the beginning of the fall. I realize that may not seem like that long ago but with the waiting process that is like forever ago. The 16 week deadline is going to hit on March the 9th. Ive used the message center a few times to get info about the wait times but I never get a straight answer. I called in today to find out and all I got as an answer is there is a back log.  I'm not looking for the money. I'm just looking for help with the cost of my prescriptions. As of right now I am paying close to $150 out of pocket for my medications right now waiting for VAC to make a decision. It is very frustrated.  :mad:
 

ixium

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I just called in today and there is a 2-3 month backlog of files. Mines really close to the later end of that time frame...
 
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