HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Hanging On The Telephone

My commiserations to Stuart Jones, of 3CA chartered accountants, who is quoted in a post made yesterday on Taxation:

"Yesterday afternoon I phoned the VAT helpline five or six times to be told (in a recorded message):

'I'm very sorry. We're busy right now. You might try ringing us back another time.'

Thinking I would have more success early this morning, I phoned at 8:40, 8:50 and 9:05, only to hear the same message.

What is this Government playing at?

And, how on Earth, do we do our job efficiently?

Stuart dropped me a note yesterday afternoon about this, adding:

"Since my last comment I have phoned at 14.30, 15.25 and 16.08 to hear the same bloody recorded message."

Is he alone in having problems in getting through?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Theres probably not that many people in the office.
    They could be at a meeting about Data Security or a meeting where the office manager is reminding everyone of their duty to uphold the civil service code :) Staff could be on the phone to the PCS Union begging for help and so cant answer calls.
    Calls now have a lot of red tape attached to them now now like filling in forms once the call is over rather than just helping the Tax Payer. So I experienced everyone ducking behind their computer screens once a phone starting ringing. Its like "go away bad phone".

  2. Somehow, I don't think he's alone there Ken! Here at HMRC, 'management' quite simply don't give a fuck about 'customer service' - they don't even know the meaning of these words....

  3. I can also confirm what the poster at 11:34 states.

    I have a relative who works for HMRC and they have often remarked how bad they feel about not being able to give the best service possible to tax payers. They have been told on a number of occasions that they should put themselves and their statistics before the caller’s requirements.

  4. Thanks Ken for the posting.

    To bring you up to date:

    Yesterday I phoned the Helpline 23 times without success.

    This morning, still optimistic, I phoned at 8:20 and heard the same recorded message.

    What now?

  5. What now?

    Make a note of the wasted time and send HMRC an invoice.


    Speak to you local MP and get them to look into it.

  6. @Stuart Jones
    I do not know about HMRC in particular but I do know that I have received a similar message when I have rung other large organisations like Thames Water. It appears to me that the message has nothing to do with how busy they are but is designed to put you off phoning them altogether. My advice, for what it is worth, is hang on. Sooner or later (probably later) someone will answer.
    This reminds me of a little trick that I have used in the past when I want to speak to a person rather than be told information about my account by a robot. After ringing the number ignore any requests to press buttons on your phone. You may be asked more than once but eventually you should get through to a real person. I suspect that this facility exists because there are still some people who have the old-style rotary dial phone.

  7. Got my monthly BT phone bill today. Who's been calling Tyneside? Oh yes, me calling support about their crappy CT submission system.

    My defunct company has now made a loss this year of 0.41p. It's a disgrace! I could have brought a Mars bar with that.

  8. The VAT helplne number was actually broken last Monday and we havent been told its fixed as yet...I assume it is... but hey ho thisis HMRC we're talking about.

  9. Hmm.

    HMRC announced on Wednesday to it's contact centre staff in Bootle that its staff are to be moved to 'Customer Operations (answering the post).

    This contact centre mainly deals with tax credits but can be 'pulled' in to answering income tax calls when the demand is high. (Yes, that's right - workers on 15-19K a year have to be skilled and show empathy in two completely different areas that HMRC operate)

    The rationale is that they are going to assist in clearing up the tax code fiasco. However, this appears to be a permanent move for these members of staff - but they can still be asked to take CC calls again on a management whim as the equipment will presumeably still be there.

    So basically there are now 300 less staff to take frontline calls.

    I suggest that anyone who has any legitimate complaints about the contact centre wating times or the fact that our contact centres are bound by rediculous management rules about what they can't do or say, cc them to Linda Maslen at her office in Chapel Wharf and Leslie Strathie at her office in London. If the 'Directors office' are swamped with real complaints - they might actually do something constructive about the way that calls are handled to the benefit of the customer and not to the way the business has decided it wants to operate.

  10. Anonymous @ 00:03...

    I couldn't agree more, after all they (i.e. Strathie & co) are paid six-figure salaries... surely more than enough to take a bit of flak from time to time!

  11. And remember to hassle your MP about the shoddy service from HMRC. If HMRC are bombarded by enough MP complaints then it may force those self-satisfied, bone-idle, head office mandarins to get off their lazy fat-cat asses and do something useful for once.

  12. Re 02:29 above, that would be fine if you had an MP that was not waiting to be prosecuted for fraudulent expense claims. Roll on the Election.

  13. "Yes, that's right - workers on 15-19K a year have to be skilled and show empathy in two completely different areas that HMRC operate"

    Only two different areas, in our CC we deal with Income Tax, Tax Credits and Debt Management !!!

  14. Oh yes I forgot about Debt management! Sorry. I forgot about that. (Although some of these calls are simply splitting up composite payments where a husband and wife have written one cheque for two accounts - with no letter of explanation and probably on one payslip and expected the cheque processor on between 11-14K a year processing thousands of these a day to be able look up each individual record and go "Well of course I should allocate so much to so and so and another bit to this person whose name isn't anywhere on the payslip and of course I should allocate it so that neither of them get any interest, because I can do all that from a Bank Giro credit slip"

    Obviously some CC's also have to double up as the Online Services helpdesk as well - where I've been told that a majority of customers phone up believing they have submitted their return where in fact they have just saved it because they don't bother waiting for an acknowledgement.

  15. HRMC website saying call them on 0845 3xxx and them after 30 minutes of IVR told to go to the website and get cut off!!!

    Why are we pay for this!!

    Any idea what percentage of our tax's actually go to paying for the this shit service!