This is Italy: Fear and Loathing @ Agenzia delle Entrate

Agenzia delle Entrate is the Italian name of our national Revenue Agency, the public administration that citizens have to deal with when they want to pay taxes, open a store, declare their earnings and whatnot.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to go to the Trastevere branch of AdE in Rome, as I needed to close what we call a “Partita IVA”.

Getting into explaining what a “Partita IVA” is is gonna be impossible, but I’ll try.

Basically, the owner of a Partita IVA (let’s translate it as “VAT account” or “VAT number”, as IVA = VAT) is registered at AdE and can work freelance and regularly pay his taxes (I believe the minimum is like 20% of the income — WTF) on his occasional jobs.

A Partita IVA might be useful for those who have multiple random jobs and just pay whatever percentage of taxes on their total income.

Personally, I was forced to get one when I had a temporary job at RAI, the Italian public Broadcasting House.

For unknown reasons, in fact, RAI wouldn’t hire any consultants with regular contracts, so even if that’s their only job, they still have to own a “VAT number” and the job still needs to seem temporary.

This means that working at RAI I’ve known 40-year-old consultants with kids and families that had to pass from temporary contract to temporary contract for all their career, and they had to pay their own taxes and to provide for their own pension. On top of this, they had to wait at least 2 months between each contract, as the job needed to seem temporary. (Does this make sense? Phewww, explaining Italy is tough!).

Anyway. Back to my trip at AdE.

AdE’s branch I went at is only open Mon to Fri in the mornings, and on Tues-Wed and Thurs they open in the afternoon between 14:15 and 15:35. Such a joke.

A few minutes before the afternoon opening, this was the situation:

The non-linear line outside of AdE

Well the picture doesn’t do it justice, but there was a herd of 100 people picketing the place. Seeing my WTF face, a kind lady informed me that the office was about to open, and that I had to speak with “the man with the hat” (a random guy in the crowd who was wearing a hat) to get a numbered ticket. Yes, a crowdsourced ticketing system was in force. I got my number, a handwritten 65 on a worthless piece of paper.

Number 65 - Afternoon - please ignore my chipped nail polish

Obviously, not everybody was pleased with the direct democracy of numbers above illustrated. The crowd started getting a little crazy. When the bald guy on the left in the picture below started questioning the reliability of the “signore” (the guy with the hat) and of his handwritten numbers, things got ugly (but funny).

Bald/old guy on the left getting pissed.

Here you can see the video footage of the dispute, it was hilarious:

Finally, after long and tensed minutes of gazing through the office windows to solicit the employees to open the damned doors…

Gazing...

...and getting pissed.

…the gates of hell were opened:

Please notice the AdE employee on a power trip as bouncer.
Also notice the Italian guy getting mad at the immigrant guy trying to sneak inside. There were a bunch of helpless foreigners, who couldn’t speak any Italian or English. Among them, a vast majority were Turkish, and I started wondering if during my absence from Europe Turkey was finally admitted in the EU. Hmm.

Once I was in, I had to queue again. This time, it was to get a legit ticket with a legit number. Here it is:

My legit ticket - it says that 54 people were in line before me

While queueing, a customer service guy informed me that I would have needed a printed copy of my ID to finally get my procedure done.

Since dad died, home is full of papers, including copies of our IDs. I would have been glad to provide them with one, if only their Call Center, which I called before embarking in the enterprise of visiting the office in person, wouldn’t have told me I only needed to take my ID with me.

The nice customer service guy offered to make the copy for me himself. Not only mine, but the ones of all the people who needed one. I thanked him, then moved to fill in a form he gave me, then went back to him. The line of people waiting to talk to him at that point had doubled, and I didn’t want to do things “all’italiana” (the Italian way), sneaking in front of the desk.

Therefore, I went to another person at the desk asking if he could help with the printing. He was older, grumpier, in sad little jacket and tie suit screaming “9-2-5” (whereas the other one was friendly and in a sweater), and he didn’t do anything else than sitting on his chair-sore bum being nasty to people.

He asked me to go to the copy center across the street.
“It’s closed for the lunch break”, I replied.
“It opens at 3”, he said.
Then I went, “You guys close at 3:35 and I’ll be called in two numbers.”

At that point he started moralizing me on how I was trying to transgress the law and trying to be advantaged in the face of all the other honest tax payers in the room — who by the way could have benefited of the same favor, as the nice-guy-in-a-sweater offered it to all of those who needed it.

I couldn’t believe my ears and I suddenly missed New York and all its rude cab drivers, who might be really rude, but at least they don’t believe they are better than you when you fight with them (nor they quote codes and law — and I strongly doubt the guy at AdE knew more about them than I do).

I got real pissed. I think it’s dad’s attitude coming out when needed. He wouldn’t have been as polite as I have been, tho — the guy would have been vigorously sent to F the F off if dad were there.

I just pointed out that the Call Center gave me a different information, and I didn’t have the copy because of that.
“It’s none of my business” he replied.
“Well it should be, it’s your Call Center I talked to.”
Then I invited him to change his job.

Luckily enough the nice-guy-in-a-sweater printed the copy of the scandal for me, without any fuss.

What’s best is that I wasted an afternoon and I had to deal with inefficiencies and the jerks who cause them only to have a lady putting a stamp on a piece of paper that could have been computerized and completed in 5 minutes.
Italy — Y U NO use le interwebz?

WTF.

4 thoughts on “This is Italy: Fear and Loathing @ Agenzia delle Entrate

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