Census hotline in Berlin and Brandenburg difficult to reach
Wed 05/25/22 | 4:42 p.m. | Of
In the census, millions of house and apartment owners should provide information online. Many seniors are overwhelmed with it or have no internet at all. A hotline is supposed to help, but it causes some even bigger headaches. By Mara Nolte
“This is a real mess!” – Eberhard Widke is still beside himself. A few days ago he received a letter from the Statistical Office. It’s about the 2022 census – the aim is to determine how many people live, live and work in Germany. Participation has taken place, it says in bold there. The letter goes on to say that Mr Widke should fill out a questionnaire online, but Mr Widke does not have internet access.
Alternatively, he can order a paper questionnaire by telephone. But this option also presents the retiree with unexpected challenges. Because the given phone number is not reachable for him. “I’ve tried umpteen times, and each time I get the answer: This number is invalid.” Mr. Widke calls his friend, who also has no internet. But he can’t get through to the hotline either: “He threw himself on the floor before he was integrated,” says Widke. “I was so angry.”
Anxious and angry letters
Others feel the same way as Eberhard Widke and his friend. Numerous citizens of Brandenburg and Berliners who have no internet or cannot get along with the online questionnaire have contacted rbb and report that they cannot reach anyone on the census hotline. Some of them state that they have been trying for several days.
A woman reports that she was connected as far as Magdeburg, where she was then told that she had to have a questionnaire sent to her from Brandenburg. She is practically on the phone from “Pontius to Pilate” and no one is responsible or willing to help her.
Many letters are angry or fearful. Because the census letter also states: “If the persons obliged to provide information do not provide any information, incomplete information, incorrect information or information not provided in good time, they can be forced to provide information with a fee (…).” and further: “The administrative offense can be punished with a fine of up to five thousand euros.” The letter states May 30, 2022 as the deadline. With a sample of the rbb, the specified numbers can only be reached after repeated access.
Bureau of Statistics recommends calling in the evening or at weekends
The project manager of the census at the Brandenburg Office for Statistics, Kersten Klemm, admits to the rbb that there are problems with the hotline. “This whole problem hotline is difficult, yes. We have now received an increased volume of calls,” says Klemm. The capacities have now been “considerably expanded”. Nevertheless, there is also a lack of interested parties “for this very short-term call center activity”. Klemm recommends that those affected call in the evening or at the weekend.
If you managed to get through to the hotline within two to three weeks, you would receive the paper questionnaire with a new deadline. According to Klemm & those affected, do not expect the fine to be enforced immediately. “We’ll first send out a reminder with a new deadline. It’s also possible that someone is suddenly in the hospital or on vacation.” It’s only when someone gets a so-called attachment that things get a little more serious. “Then you have to try to get a questionnaire there,” says Klemm.
Herr Widke has shot down the census for the time being. He has since asked his son for help. He didn’t get through to the hotline either, but did everything online.
Interviews about the person and property of houses or apartments
The census has been running in Germany since mid-May. The statistical offices of the federal and state governments are conducting a census for the first time since 2011. Nationwide, more than 30 million randomly selected citizens are asked how they live, live and work. Around 10.3 million randomly selected people are asked about their name, gender, marital status and nationality as part of the census at their own door. In addition, around 23 million owners of houses or apartments are surveyed online.
Broadcast: Antenne Brandenburg, May 25, 2022, 4 p.m