Two retirees have been left with a bad taste in their mouth following a spat with Far North District Council staff over their overdue dog registrations.
Lake Ngātu resident Margie Job claims she was unable to pay for her two dog registration renewals as they were due on August 31, during Northland's alert level 4 Covid-19 lockdown period.
Margie said she would have paid for the fee online, however, as a SuperGold Card discount holder, she wasn't able to utilise her discount, which would have saved her around $20.
She said despite not being able to go into the office during lockdown, she was still charged a late payment fee.
"I made sure that once the alert level dropped to level 2, I went in straight away to pay for my dogs' registrations," the 67-year-old said.
"The staff member I spoke to had no empathy at all and told me I was at fault and needed to follow up with Dog Control to rectify my penalty.
"They wanted to charge me the full price for both my dogs, plus a late payment fee, when I should have only been paying just under $100 which includes my Gold Card discount.
"After that I was mad as a cut snake and the staff member eventually waived my penalty and gave it to me for the original price of the fee, plus my discount.
"I just don't understand why I had to get that upset when I was just trying to do the right thing."
Margie said she filed a formal complaint and some days later received a call from the FNDC, who apologised for the incident.
According to the Far North District Council, more dogs have been registered so far this year than were registered last year.
FNDC revenue from dog registration renewals was $16,000 higher at the end of July than it was for the same period last year, although several months of last year were in lockdown or semi-lockdown.
Glenda Job is Margie Job's relative by marriage and also has two little dogs.
Her registration fee for her dogs this year was $108 or $93 with her SuperGold Card discount.
The 65-year-old Awanui resident said despite being assured she wouldn't be penalised for paying late, she too was confronted with a similar scenario to Margie.
"I'm really peeved to be honest," Glenda said.
"I called the council last week to confirm if I could get a discount and that I wouldn't be charged with a penalty for not being able to pay my registration during lockdown.
"I was assured that everything was okay, but when I went into the FNDC office, the lady at the counter said she had no record of my call and that I had to pay a penalty, as well as the full price without a discount.
"I said 'like hell I do, I've been using my Gold Card for two years', to which the lady said she would send an enquiry through to see if I could get an exemption for paying late.
"I'm just upset because how could I come in during level 4 when nothing was open?"
At the time of her interview, Glenda said she was still waiting to hear back from the council on the outcome.
"I register my dogs every year and have never had a problem," she said.
"On the other hand, I know plenty of dogs on my street that aren't registered and that's a real issue, yet nothing happens to their owners.
"I feel like people my age shouldn't have to worry about things like this, we pay our fees and shouldn't be judged or penalised for doing the right thing."
The Northland Age contacted the FNDC for comment and were told an extension on dog registrations had been pushed back to this Friday
FNDC environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said anyone who had already paid for their dog registration without receiving a discount should contact FNDC for a refund.
"Anyone paying their dog registration fee at a council service centre during level 2 restrictions will be charged the pre-lockdown fee (ie without the penalty added) until September 17," Deane said.
"This is to compensate for the lockdown period when in-person payment was not possible. Gold Card and Community Service Card holders will also receive their discount during this period.
"Anyone who has paid their dog registration fee before Friday, September 17, who has not paid at the pre-lockdown rate or not been able to receive a Gold Card or Community Service Card discount, should contact us for a refund of any extra money paid.
"This is the first year that the council has provided an online option for paying dog registrations, therefore applying discounts for Gold Card and Community Service Card holders is not currently an option as the cards need to be sighted in person.
"It is hoped in the future that once a qualifying card has been sighted, the discount will be automatically applied to subsequent payments. We aim to apply this to online payments also.
"We have also been unable to post dog registration tags out during alert level 3 and 4 for those dog owners who have paid online.
"We plan to have the majority of these in the post early next week and would like to thank all dog owners for their patience and understanding during the lockdown."
FNDC estimates an extra 300 dogs were registered this year compared to last year's figures.