Seasins Greeetings! On the 17th I managed to persuade my GP to write a sick note, due to the bullshit of the Work Programme and his agreeing that it was, indeed, bullshit.
The following day I rang the ESA new claims number only to be told that there is a glitch on their system preventing people that have already claimed in the past from doing so again. He posts out a form. I don't discover the reason for this until Thursday when I try my luck again. I'm 'assured' this error is peculiar to the process of applying via telephone, even though that is the preferred method.
On Wednesday I post off my JSA booklet with a signature to say I'm ending my claim. I send it recorded delivery. While doing my shopping early in town (early enough to avoid the seasonal chaos) I ask in the JC to see if they have a form to save waiting. I have to explain to them why they should give me a form and not be directed, by default, to the phones. They have no forms in stock.
As I said, I tried the ESA new claims number again.
On Saturday the form arrives and I begin to fill it in.
Unbeknownst to me the post office try delivering my booklet on Christmas Eve. Noone is working so they can't get a signature and the booklet is taken back to the delivery office awaiting the recipient's collection.
I fill in the form and post it off this morning using Special Delivery, taking no chances even though it's freepost. I need this to a) arrive and b) arrive quickly! I've got £140 left, that has to see me through until a decision is made. Hopefully this won't take longer than a fortnight, though that money is certainly burning a hole in my pocket! I'd dearly love to dip in and treat myself, but I don't dare!
I check the royal mail website to see if my booklet has arrived and find out they tried to deliver it. I ring them up (a feat in itself) to find out what will happen now. To my horror I discover that, at this point, I no longer have any claim to the letter; it is now the responsibility of the recipient to collect it. I ask them why they didn't try delivering it today (and every day until it is successfully delivered). You might think that is a reasonable course of action - or to return to sender if that's not possible. Apparently that's not how they roll.
Nope, they try and deliver it once, regardless of when or where, regardless of whether it might be to a place at a time that's reasonable to assume would be inauspicious (such as Christmas). If they can't get a signature, back to the office it goes and back there it stays. They make one single effort to deliver something that, by virtue of being sent recorded, might reasonably be assumed to be important. If that doesn't work, well, tough shit! Sucks to be me!
Now you might wonder why that's a big deal. My concern is twofold: firstly, I'm now stressing out like a motherfucker as to whether my esa package (including sick note) will be successfully delivered tomorrow, and secondly, what arrangements the DWP offices and their mail departments have to deal with these situations. That is, if they don't deal with collecting mail then I. Am. Fucked.
Naturally the Post Office don't care; they'll say they've done their bit and then sit back and pat themselves on the back having charged me almost seven quid (I can't afford to fritter away) to have vitally important documents end up in their fucking dungeon! If that happens tomorrow...