I have to renew my Permesso di Soggiorno every year. I dread this. A couple of times everything has gone through smoothly, but this is not usually the case.
Yesterday I went to Lucca to the office that helps me with my application. The girls there know me now, and are always helpful. The forms were filled out, I went to the Tabacchi to purchase the stamp duty to attach to the form…then it was off to the post office.
The system to select the type of transaction has changed and I chose the incorrect one. The man at the counter informed me that I had made a mistake and I went back to get the correct number. Not five minutes later I was recalled to the same desk…a bit silly but OK. I was happy to be served so quickly.
He looked at my paper work, looked through all my photocopied passport pages and then asked ME how much I had to pay to process the Permesso. I replied that it should be him telling me how much it cost. After all I didn’t go to the butcher shop to process my paper work. I went to the official post office where this is done.
He claimed not to know, asked another post office worker, who also claimed not to know. They both informed me that it was my responsibility to know how much I had to pay. I have renewed my Permesso 6 or 7 times and this particular trick has never come up before. The price seems to change regularly, so how could I know what it is?
I found out later that my friend who applied recently had the same experience, but when she told them she didn’t know, they miraculously decided they did know the fee.
The situation is ridiculous. If they don’t have a list with the scheduled feesfor their own services, why don’t they? If I got treatment like this in Australia I would ask to speak to a supervisor, but in Italy we are at the mercy of a crummy public servant who hates his job and loves to wield a bit of power. Upset them at your peril.
Anyway, the man I was dealing with refused to find out and I had to go back to the other side of town to ask for help from the girl who helped me with the application. She went online and got the fee for me and I went back to the post office.
This time I had to wait one hour for my turn. It then appeared that when the original post office worker had looked at my passport pages he managed to get them out of order. My new helpful assistant threw them at me and demanded that I get them in order. Next time I must remember to staple them together…another lesson learned.
It was finally done, my paperwork was processed and I have an appointment with the Questura in a few weeks…the next trial awaits.
For the record I was charged €107.50 for the application and €30 by the post office for their excellent service.
People talk of the excessive beurocracy in Italy. I don’t think the rules and regulations are the big problem. I think the main issue is that many people in official positions can’t, or don’t want to do their jobs. I think they deliberately give people a hard time in the hope they will just go away.
You could lose the will to live in an Italian post office. It is just as well Italy is beautiful and we can forgive it for almost anything.
PS. When I went to the Questura I was informed that I had paid €20 too much. To get the refund I had to submit a form and attach a stamp which costs about €16…I didn’t bother.