24 February 2009

Kim vs. The City of Chicago

So the City of Chicago's excellent customer service is of course world renowned. Once I called to try and pay the bill for our building's water service and they threatened to call the cops on me. But that's another story. This one also involves the police, but it has pictures!

A few days ago, I was driving under a bridge, as is my custom. I was peering through the darkness towards the light at the other side, but unbeknownst to me, directly in my path lay a Car-Devouring-Pothole-Of-Epic-Proportions. About 4 feet long, 1-2 feet wide, and 8 inches deep. Here is Mr. Pothole.

My car hit the edge and the two passenger side tires exploded. Here are the Ol' Exploded Tires.

About 30 seconds after my incident, a car behind me did the exact same thing, and in the next hour, a total of 4 cars are parked on the side of the road.

One of us wisely says that if we're going to get the city to help pay for the damage, we have to get a police report. So we call the police.
Police: "Oh. That's not an emergency. We don't come for that. Call 311."

So we call 311.
Us: "Hi. Our car was just damaged by a giant pothole, and there are at least 3 other people who've also hit it."
311: (pause) "So what do you want me to do about it?"
Us: "Well... we need to get a report so we can file a claim with the city, and you should probably send someone over to set up a barricade or something."
311: "We can't help you with claims. You need a police report. But here's a number to call."

So we call the number.
Number: "To find out more about exciting events in Chicago this summer, press 2!"

Finally a cop drives by and we flag him down. "It's not that bad. I've seen worse," he says, while tires explode in the background. He doesn't write reports for potholes, he says, but he gives us a number to call.

So we call this number.
Number: "To find out more about exciting events in Chicago this summer, press 2!"

We finally give up on this and get ourselves towed away and everything fixed up, for a grand total of $300. Here's a picture of that:

Now begins the real fun.

I go on the City website to get the claim form. This is what I discover:
1. The form must be typed and mailed in. Only, there isn't really a form. Just a poorly formatted online fill-in-the-blank that can neither be submitted online NOR printed out without erasing the answers. So I guess you have to print it out and feed it into an actual typewriter.

2. You must include with your claim two written estimates of the cost of repair as well as your paid bill. So... once you have made the repairs, it seems that you must drive around and ask people how much it costs to make the repairs.

3. You must include with your claim.... a police report.

So I call the police.
Police: "You don't need a police report."
Me: "Well, it seems there's some confusion about that."
Police: "We don't do potholes."
Me: "Well, what else should I use to prove this happened?"
Police: "You need a reference number from 311."

So I call 311:
Me: "I need to get a reference number for a pothole incident so I can make a claim."
311: "No you don't. You need a police report."

And that's when my head exploded, just like my tires. The end.


Nate Heldman said...

you should send this to your alderman, your state rep, state senator, the mayor's office, and both chicago newspapers. ask them about reform in government, and where corners might be cut that could save the taxpayers money.

of course, they may say that by giving people the runaround until they give up, they save the taxpayers even more money...

nunface said...

this post makes me so unbelievably angry that i want to punch someone. the system is screwed up beyond belief.

aaron wk said...

kim, i know your "kim vs. [evil foe]" posts are filled with your eventual defeat and/or resigned exasperation, but these are my favorite posts. not that i want you to have more occurrences like these, but i do hope you blog about ALL of them (that unfortunately happen to you, but that i enjoy reading about). this comment is sooo all about me. i'm starting to feel bad about that. maye teh ceiling cat bress u wif lotz uf cheezburgrz.

aaron wk said...

o hai! ai c yur tirez is broked. how dat happun? u drived bad dinnut u?

stacy pietsch said...

i agree with nate. call the newspapers!

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