Single Status Update
The five words that stop a bureaucracy in its tracks:
"Is that the official policy?"
Yeah in those cases it doesn't work. But you'd be surprised by the number of times there isn't an official policy but rather just a set of "loose guidelines" or where the official policies are so convoluted and arcane that no one can tell if it is the official policy or not.
But it doesn't matter if the person in question can set an official policy in the absence of one. In fact, that just makes the question more effective. The bulk of bureaucracy consists of people trying to make things someone else's problem in order to have clout but without having to take responsibility for anything. They often do this by making you <i>think</i> that something is an official policy so that you'll give up. But if you challenge them, especially in writing, then they suddenly have to take a stand that could give them blow back. So in most cases they will either back down or else pass the buck to people who continue the process. Nothing ends up happening. (Though note that since this <i>stops</i> bureaucracy this is only an effective play for you if you want noting to happen, such as when they are trying to fine you.)
This is more effective the higher up you go since people are bigger targets and have more to lose, so they are more careful about being blamed for something. Entry level service employees, especially outsourced ones, will often care so little about their jobs that they'll just lie to hope you go away. Though you might be able to get a manager involved, as long as you can live with the type of person who asks for the manager.
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