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Monday, 18 July 2011

Roger Rolland's battle with French bureaucracy to prove he's alive.

Ah bureaucracy.

Don't you just love it?

Of course it's everywhere, but perhaps the French are masters of it.

Or should that be the most adept at making a mess of it?

Just ask Roger Rolland.

Roger Rolland (screenshot TF1 news)

He's very much alive - something to which his family, friends and now television viewers in France can attest.

But French bureaucracy, it seems, has had a hard time believing it and has certainly needed some convincing.

At the end of May the 67-year-old received a call from his local chemist telling him that the social security office had been in touch informing him they were refusing to reimburse the cost of supplying a prescribed medicine a week earlier because...get this...Rolland was dead.

"It certainly gave me something to think about and I had to keep asking my wife to reassure me I was still alive," he told TF1 news with something approaching a smile on his face.

But as he was to discover, proving to French bureaucracy that he was still alive was far from being a laughing matter and would be harder than he thought.

First of all he made his way down to the local health insurance office where he repeated what his chemist had told him.

After plenty of hunting around, an employee discovered that somehow the death certificate of another person had made its way into his file and there had obviously been an administrative error.

As the daily newspaper France Soir reports, the error was rectified immediately and Rolland was able to return home safe in the knowledge that French bureaucracy knew he was alive.

Wrong!

A couple of weeks later the pensions office sent a letter to his home, addressed to his heirs.

Rolland was on the blower immediately to explain that there had been a mix up and...well let's allow him to take up the story as to what happened next.

"The person the other end of the line told me that I would have to provide a certificate proving I was still alive," he said.

"So I went to the town hall to see if one could be supplied...only to be told that no such certificate existed."

While Rolland was busy trying to acquire some sort of non-existent official document to prove he was alive, his wife, Josette, took matters into her own hands.

She rang the pensions office, managed to get hold of the person who had sent the letter to her husband's heirs and was told to, "Have him sign a sworn statement (une attestation sur l’honneur) that he's still alive."

"It was surrealist," Josette told France Soir.

Quite.

End of story?

Not exactly.

The pensions office now had their records straight, but Rolland thought it perhaps wise to contact the office handling the supplementary pension fund to which he was also entitled - just in case.

And that was definitely a smart move, because according to their records, he had been dead since February!

While her husband remains somewhat phlegmatic about the whole mix-up Josette is less understanding.

'It's still amazing that the social security office which made the error in the first place, didn't bother to inform the other departments," she told France Soir.

"If something similar happened to someone more fragile and less able to understand bureaucratic red tape, it could well end up with their being dead - officially and for real."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well we know which country invented "bureaucracy", and it wasn't the Soviet Union!

Betty

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