Red Tape Annoyances

It sneaks up on you everywhere.

At work

At leisure

When trying to perform those mundane everyday tasks that life throws at you.

Sometimes it presents itself as a small annoyance. Other times, a brief formality.

At its worst, it becomes the bane of your existence – completely blocking any progress in your intended achievements, like greasy hippies on a leaky boat to a Japanese whaling vessel. This comment in no way should be taken as an indication that I am pro-whaling, anti-Japanese or vice versa. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions regarding my stance on greasy hippies.

Of course, I am talking about the red tape that permeates every corner of civilised society. From internal company policies and procedures to dealing with government departments. We have all experienced those moments of where we cannot fathom the heights of the hoops we are jumping through.

Red Tape Hulk

Red Tape Hulk

Working in HR, we are often seen as the risk-adverse blockers of productive change.  We can be seen more as the creators of roadblock policy, more interested in restricting employees to cover behinds than the driving force behind advancing company culture.

A great blog on HR and social media policy ( – registration required) makes the point HR teams should spend more time…leading by example and less time writing another pointless policy.

Of course, the HR world are not the only creators of such obstructions and the sad (yet no less frustrating) reality is that sometimes, for legal and other legitimate reasons a degree of red-tape is unavoidable.

This is not to say that, as an employee, internal red-tape is any less annoying.

When Red Tape Bites

More bothersome however,  is when as a paying customer, red tape policy binds you like a mummy.

Take for instance my ISP, an organisation whose customer support page is full of marketing buzz about how they are a company on the cutting edge. About how their customer satisfaction ratings are amongst the highest. About how they are the best choice.

When I opened my account with them a few years ago, I made a simple phone call that went a little something like this:

GW: Hello, I would like to sign up for your internet and homeline package. Yes, I still use a homeline
TC: Sure, What name and address will that be in?
GW: Graeme White and Miss Grumpy* *Not her actual name

After getting a few more details off me over the phone, I was connected and bills were sent to us at home in the joint names of Graeme White and Miss Grumpier* *Probably an accurate description of her after she reads this post.

You may be aware that I have recently wed. My wife has taken my name.

As there was absolutely no problem in signing up; no red tape, no identification, just a simple phone call – I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to simply inform my ISP of our changes and then go about my life.

The following is a copy of the conversation lifted from the live online support chat: with my typos removed so as not to diminish your perfect image of me.

GW: I have recently married. We would like our bills/account and future White Pages listings to reflect our new married names
Elaine has joined the chat. I do not know if Eileen is her real name, or something like a stage name. If it were a stage name, I think she could have chosen something a little more exotic. Nothing kinky mind you – after all, they are a professional telecommunications company.
GW : Account Number xxxxx
Elaine: Hell Graeme can you please send us a copy of your marriage certificate to either or fax to 0800 xxx xxx
GW: Really? You didn’t need ID to set up the account. ..and my details stay the same. . 🙂
Elaine : Because were changing your wifes surname and updating the White Page listings we need documentation confirming the name change.
GW: Okay, Thank you for your time anyway. . As you can tell, I was in about as much of a mood for a fight as the French during WWII.
Elaine : Your Welcome.
GW :Ater a 4 minute wait to see if there was any further explanation coming Goodbye.

I can’t wait until we get around to the passports.

Please feel free to share your red-tape annoyances.


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