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.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hanging On The Telephone - Very Very Busy

Call Centre
In parallel with this site highlighting people's difficulties in trying to get through to HMRC on the phone, HMRC have admitted to the Guardian that its call centres and helplines are failing to cope with demand from the public.

Callers are frequently cut off, or left hanging in lengthy queues.

Guardian Money recently published a letter from lecturer Dr Hillary Shaw, detailing his problems trying to get through to HMRC on its 0845 070 3703 number.

"After navigating several levels of automated number choices you get the message that this line is busy, please call back later. No option of hanging on, you must expensively re-navigate with no certainty of success, repeatedly."

The letter prompted an outpouring from other Guardian readers suffering similar frustrations.

An HMRC spokesman said:

"We are experiencing a higher level of demand than usual because of the well-publicised issues around PAYE notices of coding. This means customers are finding it more difficult to get through.

It is standard practise within our contact centres to play 'busy' messages when the helpline is full. This ensures customers on hold do not wait in a queue for an unreasonable length of time. As a rule, we cap queue lengths at eight minutes

HMRC is like the M25, it has become so popular that it cannot cope with demand.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. "HMRC is like the M25, it has become so popular that it cannot cope with demand."

    I disagree.

    Fundamentally the M25 works, HMRC does not. Even at times of low volume, HMRC doesn't work properly because its systems and management are to pot.

    Cut the M25 down to 2 lanes, scrap variable speed limits, install traffic lights after each junction and turn on the red lights interittently at rush hour, not forgetting an inadequate automated telephone line to allow complaints about their poor service, and then you will have an idea of how HMRC's systems "work".

    Trevor Scott

  2. I agree, HMRC and the M25 are very alike... both are "The Road to Hell".

  3. How many people wearing headsets actually take calls from the public?

    And how many people wear a headset that is not plugged in?

  4. What a stupid comment about staff not being on the phones but wearing headsets,you're constantly monitered by your line manager who would soon know if you weren't answering calls.

  5. 28 April 2010 23:19

    It may seem like a stupid comment but it is not as stupid as you think if it is a line manager doing it when the lines are busy. Maybe the stupid thing is the people above that person not doing anything about it.

  6. The have put me on BR and i am not able to change it

  7. The line managers do it all the time, lazy beggars. Anything so they dont have to talk to the "customers".

    Can you believe I got pulled today for going to the toilet 3 times on Monday, 3 times in a 9 hour shift, they'll be getting us a feckin commode shortly!!! Even though I took more calls than anyone else on my team and i'm sitting very close to an advisor who, allegdely cant answer the phones nor type so is reading magazines all day and getting paid the same as me!!! Bloody shocking.

  8. 29 April 2010 15:55

    I believe you, I have come across line managers (or supervisors as I call them as the word manager does not fit) who count in seconds regarding overrun tea breaks. If it is any consolation we are putting together a case to be put to the health and safety executive in the near future regarding HMRC.

  9. Figures released today by contact centres to staff via email:
    Tuesday 27 April PAYE calls answered by contact centres 20%!!!! Tax Credits 74
    ake of that what you will.

  10. good time to have a Tax Credit problem, bad time to have a Tax problem.

    Don't worry come January tax problems will have more priority.

  11. Please don't slag off the people who answer your calls? They are doing the very best they can and are doing a bloody marvelous job with the restrictions that they face. All staff in HMRC contact centres want is to be able to help but are faced with massive obstacles. Remember they are ordinary people trying to do their job and are grateful they have one! I am a contact centre manager/ team leader or lazy sod who does not want to talk to you if you want to call me that.I do want to help and solve the problems you all face. The problem lies with all parties not just HMRC. Too much incorrect data was fed into our old system from individuals, employers and agents over a period of 25 years. That coupled with the numerous mistakes our staff have made as well means we should all share the blame (and yes there are a LOT which lie with us!). HMRC does work but we are changing and everyone must accept that and work with us.It will take time to get into a more efficient working pattern but don't forget, we are not a private company who can splash money at a quick fix.
    When you call an HMRC helpline please remember that you are talking to a fellow human being (Based in the UK) and they will try to help. If you shout at them for something out of their control i would say that is a form of bullying. Please be pleasant and listen to what they say as in the whole they are a great bunch of people who will help as much as they can. Complaining adds to the problems as we have to utilise more resources. If we say a refund will be issued in June please believe that. Please do not call every day chasing it up as we can not do anything until our system is updated and employers forms are in as well. We do understand but repeat calls cause frustration for other people trying to get through as well as reducing our staff morale. Finally if you do speak to myself or one of my colleagues and they do provide you with a good service please make their day by telling them so as it will boost their morale. We are employed and told what to do, please don't have a go at normal people like us

  12. To Anonymous 29 April 2010 23:59

    Well said. Unfortunately the Mail readers who write & post on this blog don't care. The concept of helping others without excessive personal gain is difficult for them to understand. So they despise the idea of any public service no matter how necessary or useful. As HMRC is the tax collection authority for the country it is much easier to attack than other high profile public services like the NHS or schools. Despite your very valid and well phrased comments it is not possible to reason with these people. Give up on them, just get on with your life and keep doing your job until you are made redundant. Good luck.

  13. I do not think there are many posts on this site that actually slag of the people answering the actual calls. If there are then they probably relate to individual calls. In the context of this blog post your claim that HMRC works is simply untrue, you just have to look at the number of calls that are not getting through. This is not a reflection on the people answering the calls but a reflection on the systems in place. I think there is justification for criticism of this based on the fact that people should be able to get answers to their enquiries.

    I fully agree with you on your point about treating the people answering the calls with respect. I feel that if you start to get abuse you should just terminate the call and be supported in this action. The same needs to happen from above as well. HMRC management need to be respectful of the staff below them.

    Regarding your point that you want to help people with their problems. I am sure this is the case for most people working within HMRC, unfortunately there are people within HMRC who are more interested in looking good on spreadsheets. I am sure it is a minority but when you have managers using phrases like 'Do not worry about the customers, just worry about your own call stats' it reflects on HMRC as a whole.

    I will finish by saying a public thank you to the various members of staff I have dealt with over the years in the running of my business. As the partner of somebody who works within HMRC I will not thank the management for the way my partner is treated and look forward to the day where I can publicly post full details of what they and their family has had to endure.

  14. Aww, poor HMRC cannot cope.

  15. Anon @ 30 April 2010 09:21...

    "HMRC management need to be respectful of the staff below them."

    Totally agree. After all, it is due to the hard work of the staff below them that the management get paid the performance bonuses.

    In our office we have to work within a rigid blame culture and climate of fear. The management constantly bully and treat us like badly-behaved schoolchildren with the threats of C&D procedures at every turn if we dare to do anything without first seeking permission or obtaining authority. Basically it is "use your own initiative at the peril of your job".

    Our managers raise not a single penny piece in taxes... but guess who get all the performance bonuses?!!

    Small wonder staff morale is through the floor.

  16. the calls that get cut off, get cut off when people already in the queue have been waiting 8 minutes for an answer. The unlucky ones who get cut off may be interested to know that as far as HMRC bossess go, their calls never actually happened. Unanswered calls are ones that you hang up, not us.
    anyway with another 5000 customer contact staff to to go from the headcount this financial year no-one will get through at all soon.
    Wonder how busy the dwp will be when we are all on the dole?

  17. Today I spent 90minutes on hold trying to get through only to be cut-off at 8pm as they were shut. Now tell me anyone is working at the call centre.

  18. Yesterday I spent 30 minutes waiting before I had to give up.
    Today I spent another 15 minutes waiting.
    It's not like I go anywhere else. There isn't even a message telling you where you are in the queue or what the waiting time is.
    They must be generating a lot of money from their 0845 number, it's not really in their interest to answer the phones.
    If a private company operated in this manner they go bust very quickly.
    I work full time and I'm very very busy too however I'm expected to invest hours of my time trying to contact HMRC.
    I also have to pick my phone up and assist people in a timely manner - this obviously doesn't apply to HMRC

    Paula, Cheshire

  19. Unbelievable! Spent two hours going through endless menus...every time I selected "talk to adviser"...the system hung on me. I want to send out an invoice but need a specific tax form for overseas work stamped by hmrc. sent it to them in january, nothing back. Incompetence doesn't even come close. If I ran my business this way, I'd go bust fast.