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Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Hoisted on Their Own Petard - HMRC Caught Lying
David Ross recounts a tale of woe on Accounting Web, where he tried to interact with one of HMRC's call centres.
It seems that HMRC are not only experts at losing data discs, but they also lose letters and records of phone calls.
I wonder how it is that they manager to keep track of people's tax records?
Having lost the record of the phone call, HMRC's staff (it would appear) were not allowed to ring their colleagues up to query the issue.
What happened to such concepts as "using one's initiative", "customer care" and "efficiency"?
HMRC know that they are in deep "sh*t", because their operatives will not pass on their work phone numbers to the taxpayers. That speaks volumes about their attitude, and the way that HMRC is run.
In fact, as the story unfolds, HMRC go on the attack and threaten the Mr Ross with action.
He recorded the call that HMRC claim never took place!
Like a cornered teenager/tantrum throwing toddler, HMRC kicks and squeals because it knows that it has been caught out.
"We do have a slight concern about this case. I understand that you have recorded that call at no stage did you advise the adviser that you were recording the call.... You do realise that you have to do that...The adviser will now take further action"
"We do not have the slightest concern about this case"....!!
Are we taxpayers seriously going to tolerate this type of attitude from this organisation?
Read the full story below:
Summary of facts
We wrote a letter on 15 January 2008 to your "Service Office" containing an error/mistake claim on behalf of our client for 2004/5. On 13 March I telephoned your Call Centre and spoke to a lady who confirmed that the letter had been received. As the Call Centre cannot do anything, she said she would send a message to follow the matter up.
Today, 27 March, I telephoned again and the young chap said there was no record of the original letter or my previous call. What was more, since no message was on record to the Service Office, he was not allowed to ring them about it! So I asked if there was someone more senior who did have the authority to pick up the telephone to the Service Office, and I was transferred to you.
As you could not help any further I said I would check my telephone record, which would take a few minutes. Since you would not give me your telephone number, you rang me back after 20 minutes.
In the resumed conversation you again said there was no record of my call on 13 March, or receipt of the original letter. So I played you my recording, which confirmed the Christian name of the HMRC Employee and what she had said to me.
"I'm just looking up now and the person that you spoke to has made absolutely no notes at all on the record to verify that she has spoken to you - she has made absolutely no note to say that she has quantified (sic) that we have received the letter, because we haven't so I am going to have to trace the call"
After this I faxed you a copy of my original letter, asking that in the circumstances you ensure that it was dealt with immediately.
At this point I was pleased to have effectively represented my client's interests and to leave it at that. I supposed that the lady I spoke to on 13 March would get a 'slap on the wrist' and that my client's problem would be attended to.
However, you then took the trouble to telephone me back, not to confirm that you were dealing with the tax matter, but to tell ME off!
“We do have a slight concern about this case. I understand that you have recorded that call at no stage did you advise the adviser that you were recording the call …. You do realise that you have to do that …. The adviser will now take further action"
(which of course I invite her to do if she would like to have my formal Complaint by return – will my old Trade Union be getting involved?)
So here is what I think about what happened today – and I am sharing it (all names removed) with my colleagues via AccountingWeb.
I am very glad I had a recording of the conversation. You flatly denied the truthful version of events and failed to check your own records until hearing my recording obliged you to.
Without my record, I would have been left with egg on my face and my client would have suffered. I rang my client back on 13 March and told him of my successful contact with your office. When his error/mistake claim is processed to his Self Assessment Account, interest will be charged to that date, so we will be seeking compensation for the delay.
It is an absolute nonsense to threaten me with unspecified 'action' by an employee who was found out to have fallen down on the job, and who has no right to complain about the recording of a call that she knew was being recorded anyway!
All along I found your manner defensive and officious. You even denied that your office is a Call Centre – "this is a Tax Office". You said that lots of other accountants, like me, used to work in the Revenue and remember 'the good old days'.
For the record, I always voice my sympathy when speaking with your colleagues about the environment they work in and make it clear I understand they did not design things the way they are.
Also, for the record, I very much appreciate that when the Call Centre cannot deal with something and send a message to the Service Office, they are very good about calling back. On this occasion an individual made a mistake, but the general complaint of Accountants and the Public is not against the staff but the set-up of HMRC that the staff have to suffer too.
When asking me to send you a fax of my letter you said "I can't deal with it" (i.e. you would pass it on). So you ARE by your own admission a Call Centre, not a Tax Office in the traditional sense, so please stop causing arguments by denying it.
In the circumstances, since your Call Centre operative made no record of my call of 13 March, the fact that no one made a record of the original letter hardly seems evidence that you did not receive it! HMRC can hardly say to people, as you did to me, that you have not had correspondence, just because it has not been logged in, and I trust you will take a less defensive line in future conversations.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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