I sauntered into work this morning at about 10 to find this email from one of our trainee lawyers waiting for me:
I was at the foreigner police in the morning (quite interesting place); almost everything is OK, except of (bad news) term of your health insurance. As FP needs to extend your visa obligatory for 2 years (good news), they need evidence that your health insurance will last till March 2010. However, FP women on the phone were not able to tell me before for how long will be your visa extended. That was the reason why we have decided to extend your health insurance for 1 year (anyway, insurance company could extend it only for 1 year by one agreement).
I have asked Katka to go to the health insurance company today or tomorrow and to conclude another insurance agreement valid until 2010. Then I will visit FP on Monday, give them a stamp and health insurance documents and they will grant new visa immediately.
I will stop by you when you’ll be at your desk.
Great, I thought, it sounds so easy.
So Katka, a secretary, went to VZP, which must be the worst insurance company in the world. There she was told that it would be impossible to conclude a health insurance agreement for a year from now (March 2009 to March 2010) and that instead I would have to cancel my 2008-2009 agreement, pay a 20% cancellation penalty, and then conclude a 2-year agreement. Which you may note, if you understood the email above, is absolutely contrary to what they had told her in January when she originally went to renew my insurance.
Katka, bless her, did not tell me anything – she was too smart for that because I have been known to shoot the messenger, so to speak. Katka told Martin and Martin had to tell me and face the wrath of Max. Which in fact he enjoys. All I need is some leather, a pair of thigh-high boots and a whip, and I think he’d be in heaven. [Martin, if you’re reading this – NO. Forget it.]
Two minutes later I was on the phone to VZP getting the director’s number. Martin took over and called; he talked to the director’s secretary. I am trying to teach these kids not to take things lying down. And that if two people in one office give you two different answers, go higher and talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.
“I always win,” I said to Martin. But then I had to admit that I lose a lot in this country – the trade licence office, the commercial register, the foreigner police – and it always costs me money.
And that’s where we are. The director was in a meeting and it was really too late to find anyone in authority to talk to. Martin will start trying again tomorrow morning at 8. But I had to promise him that if we don’t get things sorted out by tomorrow afternoon, I will pay the 20% penalty so that he can go and get my new visa on Monday. The penalty will actually be less than 1800 crowns (just over $100) and it’s not worth getting deported (again) over that.