Earth Hour

Friday, May 4, 2007

GSIS Madness

Two days ago, I went to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Main Office to apply for a P10,000 cash advance loan. The GSIS came up with a new system they call GW@APS which, according to them, would make transactions easier with the use of Internet technologies. All a member with a GW@PS Card needs to do is swipe his card on a kiosk/computer terminal, use a forefinger print for identification and follow the instructions on the monitor to transact business. This system will make for a wireless, paperless transaction for the benefit of its members.

As a way to introduce the new system, the GSIS offered a cash advance loan of P10,000 to its members, payable in 2 years with very minimal interest. Since most of my officemates have availed of it, I decided to join the bandwagon and off I went to GSIS.

Although there's a center near my place of work, I decided to go all the way to the head office to avail of the loan. An officemate tipped us that fewer people go there so it's easier and faster to file the loan. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!

When I got there, I saw a short line heading for three kiosks. I said to myself that it's worth the trip and I'd probably spend only an hour or so for the whole thing. However, when I told the guard that I was applying for the cash advance loan, he pointed me to the left side of the building.

There was a short line and positioned myself at its end. I followed the direction of the line with my eyes and to my utter shock and disbelief, the line led to gigantic hall full of people sitted on rows upon rows of monobloc chairs!!!

I wanted to leave right then and there but the as the old saying goes, I already spent time and energy to get there, might as well bear it out.

I reached the last row of chairs after almost an hour standing in line, and listening to all possible reasons why one would apply for a loan such as this.

One lady needed it to pay for other bills. The man behind me would added the proceeds of his loan to the tuition fee of his daughter who's studying to be a nurse. Another lady had to send money to her relatives in the province. Others needed the money for some really important reason. Among these people, I must be the only one who had the flimsiest reason.

After another hour or so, we reached the middle row of the line. I looked back where we started and saw that the line was still as long as when I first arrived. It made me feel sad that so many people needed this money.

It was almost lunch time and the people in line didn't want to leave. They were afraid that their turn might come before they could finish eating. So most of us decided to forgo lunch that day. I already skipped my regular coffee break while standing in line!

Time seemed to move slow as we got nearer the kiosks. We have already shared stories about our previous experiences, good and bad, on applying for loans with GSIS and other lending agencies. I even found out about how some of my seatmates end up having loans without even applying for one because some unscrupulous person filed one on their behalf!

About three hours since I fell in line, the worst thing imaginable happened. The kiosks bogged down. All four of them simultaneously "hanged."

Almost immediately, the people who until that point patiently lined up for this turned into warfreaks. GSIS became the common enemy: it has become an inefficient, unsystematic and mismanaged organization that doesn't care much about its members and should therefore be overhauled. Others wanted to form another organization that will provide the same services and benefits as the GSIS.

Me, I was just waiting for the signal to attack so I could grab the ax in the fire cabinet and hack those kiosks to pieces.

It was not until another 30 minutes or so before the kiosks came back to life. A huge sigh of relief was heard across the hall. Some members went back to their usual chatter why I removed my sight from the ax.

All went well after that. My transaction was over in less than five minutes. Err... in less than 4 hours and 5 minutes. There was a lady there to assist those using the kiosk and to make it easier especially for those who are not tech savvy.

As I walk out the building, I wanted to pull my hair in disgust for having spent half a day for P10,000 that I don't even know what to do with. But then, thirsty and hungry, I had enough of torture for one day. Maybe next time, when I apply for another loan.

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