Have you ever looked around your house and felt overwhelmed by the number of things that needed to be fixed or tidied up? That sometimes happens to me but a couple of weeks ago, I did what I should have done a long time ago; I identified the lowest hanging fruit and tackled it. I put right one of my spare rooms and it felt wonderful.
I find that there are so many things in Barbados that need fixing, it can be overwhelming. We really need to identify the low hanging fruit and put systems in place to fix them. While the public sector provides many opportunities for criticism, I have to mention one in the private sector that really bothers me and that is sitting in a doctor’s office for ridiculous amounts of time.
I have written about this before but since I’m writing this from a doctor’s waiting room, I feel moved to mention it again. My appointment was 8:45 and, granted, I arrived at 8:50 to find there were five people waiting as well. I assume it’s the usual case of scheduling patients every 15 minutes when the doctors know full well that they do not take 15 minutes to see a patient.
I recently went to a doctor who practices restorative medicine and I walked right into the consultation room after being greeted with a hug. As it was a first consultation, an hour had been set aside for me and I left after that hour. I was not even charged for that consultation. Amazing! A doctor who practices excellent customer service.
So I’ve now been waiting for 20 minutes. I would like to deduct the cost of my time from the fee I will have to pay. Wonder how that would go down?.
One of the complaints about doing business that I have heard recently is from a friend of mine who has a health related business and brings in products which she sells on the side in addition to the service that she provides. She said that she has had product in the Port for two weeks because she is battling over the rate of duty. This is not the first time that she has brought in these products and since they are health related, she got them at a lower rate in the past. However, another customs officer is dealing with this shipment and is trying to charge a higher rate.
Why would that be? Should the customs rate not be consistent regardless of which officer deals with a shipment? Surely, all that needs to be done is to have a note attached to the person’s company name or number in the system indicating that these products are to be charged at a particular rate and that should take the decision out of the hands of customs officers. Surely this is an easy fix.
Speaking of inconsistency, I recently took a document to the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) to file. I had signed it in blue ink, completely forgetting the ridiculous rule about black ink. What is with that anyway? Needless to say, when I walked in and saw the signs saying to use black ink pasted all over the place, my heart sank. I asked one of the ladies if it was going to be a problem, and she said that it depended on which officer I got.
That gave me a 50-50 chance of getting through. I don’t want to be operating with a 50-50 chance, I want certainty. So if blue is acceptable, then they need to make it a rule to accept both blue or black ink and save a lot of wasted time for business people.
Another time waster of major proportions is the judicial system. I need a separate article to deal with this in depth. We hear the complaints about the backlog of cases but in addition to that, the time wasted waiting for cases to be called is staggering. I have two friends in family court for different matters. Their cases have both been in the system for seven years.
I recently went to the court with one of them to keep her company. If the first case of the day was scheduled to be heard at 9, the judge did not get in until after 10! That is the first problem. Then after waiting from about 9 to 11:30, the news came out that the case would be adjourned. I am not sure the reason, but this seems to be the usual story.
Meanwhile, she has to continue to pay the lawyers. (I interrupt here to say that it is 9:44 and while the nurse has taken my blood pressure and weighed me, I have not yet seen the doctor an hour after my appointment time!)
My other friend has been abused by lawyers, both hers and the other side’s. They have neglected to tell her about court appearances until the last minute, they have not represented her well, they have treated her as if she is working for them and not the other way around. She has so many stories. I believe that these lawyers should be reported to the Bar Association.
Does that association have teeth or is it another Auditor General? Perhaps half the problems are caused by the fact that the legal profession is like a fraternity club with lawyers covering up each other’s inefficiencies. This will take a lot to fix but we have to fix it.
When we look at the number of issues that hinder doing business in Barbados, it can be overwhelming. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If each organization and government department would choose the low hanging fruit to fix and start there, progress would be made.
I will suggest to my doctor that she schedules appointments at least half hour apart and try to get to work early. Wonder how she will take that? Well at least I managed to write my article so I didn’t completely waste the time. Barbados needs fixing. Let’s do our part.
(Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is also the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014 – 2016) and the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme. Contact her at) [email protected]; Website: www.donnaevery.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1