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.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Art of Letter Writing

CommunicationsMy thanks to a loyal reader who penned me an amusing email about a letter that she received the other day in the post.

The letter was, so I am advised, a tad shoddy.

The letter claimed to come from HMRC, yet it did not look terribly professional or authentic:

- The envelope had been hand-scrawled

- The letter was on cheap copier paper

- There was a low-res HMRC logo, clearly ripped from the internet and bastardised

- There was a blank space under "your reference number"

- The letter was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes eg; "this will have an effect on your natioanl insurance account", "youve been refferrred to us" and "you detailswill be added"

- The letter was dated 2009

Needless to say this letter was "obviously" a scam (akin to the ongoing email scam that purports to come from HMRC).

Being a good citizen, my loyal reader rang HMRC to report the scam.

Can you guess what happened next children?

Yes, that's right, the letter was not in fact a scam it really had come from HMRC!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. "The letter was, so I am advised, a tad shoddy"

    Bit of a giveaway, second line in.

  2. 'The letter was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes eg; "this will have an effect on your natioanl insurance account", "youve been refferrred to us" and "you detailswill be added"'

    The above was ALSO a dead give away......although I can beat that, with a missive from HMRC's DCA's which has EIGHT spelling mistakes in one sentence.

    I get this image of some poor misfortunate with webbed fingers and no thumbs prodding keyboards (in a dark unheated cell) with a mini toilet plunger strapped to a head that goes up and down like a fiddler's elbow......

  3. People inside dont give a shit.

    The attitude is -If I'm going down, then I'm gonna bring as much down with me as I can. If it means leaving out a reference number, spelling mistakes, shoddy deliverance etc then who cares.
    The individual who produced that standard of letter is probably just a machine who seconds after typing it up, was trawling through realms of Excel collating irrelevant stats for a muppet of a manager who doesnt exactly lead from the front.

  4. This letter was issued in 2009. Thats right at the summit of the Labour spend fest with as yet no signs of the hard time ahead.
    With Bloater Brown (spineless and 2 faced)at the helm, and the good ship UK PLC heading for the rocks.
    If this letter was from the halcyon days of 'no expense spared' what the fuck must it be like 2 years down the line. Well, I guess all the recent blogs answer that retorical question.
    You coudn't make this stuff up!

  5. Frrr. goodnessake get this in the press.
    Along with the current Private Eye issue 1288, article on page 29 - "Dave The Untouchable" the good ship is sinking fast.
    Someone, someday, somewhere, hopefully in a position of power that is not within HMRC self regulating Stasi/Gulag/Stalinist gaga land, will ask the right questions, won't they?

  6. I send out hundreds of letters for the 103rd every day.
    This scrawled mess is no surprise to me infact its one of the better ones.
    Its embarrassing to post them out most days but hey if i wasnt treat like something the management had just trod in I might give a flying F..k.

  7. Private Eye article above Dave.

  8. Ahhh... the light dawns at last:-

    The Chancellor, The Prime Minister, connections to the banking "establishment", the 103rd out of control allowing huge "discounts" for multi-nationals while trampling all over the little people for petty or incorrect amounts.
    What a disgrace, is there no service left in the civil service, there certainly isn't any civil left by the look of it.
    Pity the poor sods working for this lot.

  9. Get this readers....
    PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is...wait for it....
    Holding a ballot and reccomending members vote YES to agree with their GEC and endorse, wait for it...
    So never mind the management being out of touch with the workers, now their own union has been "chipped". What is going on, unless most of the posters on this site are living on another planet PACESETTER has been equally as bad as the management/excom/top brass.
    There are some serious questions arising from this, next post please?

  10. p.s. in case you are wondering
    I didn't vote yes!

  11. I had my doubts about PCS long ago, especially after my branch secretary said he thought the merger between Customs and The Revenue would be a good thing.

    Pacesetter is a form of agressive micro- management that has caused misery for thousands. Its one of the reasons they came 103rd. PCS simply allowed it to roll in right from the start.

    Im glad I got out of that awful shit hole, now the people you hope would protect you side with the management.

  12. "The roll out of PaceSetter over the previous few years has not always been consistent.... PaceSetter has been used as an excuse to micro manage and over monitor our members."

    "In short, we need to establish some level of control over the department’s intentions and actions, to focus on the positive aspects of the process and to protect members from the worst excesses."

    "PaceSetter, if done properly, should not be used to cut jobs but to utilise time productively and to give our members a real say in their day to day work."

    "As PaceSetter is rolled out to the rest of HMRC business areas it would, in our view, be foolhardy not to have firm principles in place stipulating how the tool is introduced and subsequently operates in workplaces. This agreement empowers PCS reps at all levels in their negotiations and in seeking resolution of issues around PaceSetter. The GEC endorses and supports the acceptance of the agreement and recommends that you vote YES to acceptance in the consultative ballot."

    So by voting no you are saying PCS shouldn't have any say, giving HMRC the green light to do what they want, when they want without consulting the members. Well done. Put your name to your next post and you could get a Directors award.

  13. 11 May 2011 22:59

    Copy and Paste a whole page from pcs web site.
    So thats that then.

    What an idiot.

  14. 12 May 2011 08:18

    I copied and pasted from the PCS website because they explained it well enough.

    Blaming your colleagues for your refusal to do anything about pacesetter. That's idiotic.

  15. On topic, if non HMRC employees knew how these letters are produced they would collapse from shock.

    There are hourly targets that are aggressively policed. A board where hourly stats are discussed and pressure put on meeting those stats. Then stats are raised and no one cares if quality is piss poor. We know that letters are crap but we can't seem to get it into the thick skulls of management that it's those ridiculous targets are causing the crap to leave in the post. Believe it or not, my manager is supposed to quality check all letters. Finally, when the taxpayer sees the letter and weeps, HMRC will point to the stats and say "look at these figures, Pacesetter is delivering efficiency".

    I work in an high unemployment area. I would dearly love to leave, but am stuck with a mortgage and family commitments. I hope the private sector booms. I do not want anyone to be despoiled and deskilled as much as we are being at the moment. I despair at what HMRC has become.

  16. WRT the pacesetter champion, obviously you are living in a reclusive manner and must be a middle manager?
    Postings ad infinitum on this site and elsewhere including the usually well informed PCS magazines
    tell the truth of japanese motor manufacturing practices brought into the civil service arena.
    It doesn't work, wont work, can't cope with disaster recovery (evidence Japanese motor manufacturing in Japan, USA and Europe/UK, its all gone to crap following their Tsunami disaster.) And as for nuclear, well the average googler will have seen the record of safety violations at the disaster plant prior to the Tsunami and made their own mind up about Lean/Pacesetter methodology.#Page upon page of jargon and Japanese words and phrases, staff at meetings sitting looking at the bored/board covered in black/yellow tape cos theres no room for the useless things and they look like a cross between a dyslexic spider web and the scrawling of a demented solitary prisoner and don't forget the stats.
    And what does it to to improve productivity/engagement/morale/value for money/improve customer/customer centric experience blah fucking blah!
    Well it doesn't do fuck all, it actually does fuck nothing and that's even worse!
    Apologies for swearing however it needs to be said and emphasised.
    So, vote yes or vote no.
    Make your own minds up, seemples peeples!
    If any other muppets besides Excom, PCS GEC and the pacesetter idiot believe that power will devolve to the people they really have got their heads in a very dark place.

  17. @19:20

    Most interesting!

    I hope somebody points this out to the next PAC or TSC, So Mr Hartnett can start rehearsing for the next act of the HMRC panto!

  18. Previous post lost due to Blog probs. so I have taken out the swearing and personal attacks on the Pacesetter person.
    However, the Pacesetter acolyte is obviously somewhat out of touch with reality.
    One of the consistent themes of not only HMRCISHITE but also PCS union magazines and the average person is that the Pacesetter/Lean approach just is not working in HMRC. It is ridiculed by those subjected to its infantile and almost evangelical supporters. Most of what it promulgates was being done anyway as best or natural practice before the Stalinist doctrine of Brown/Blair & Co. e.g. empowerment, worker participation, engagement, innovation, over the horizon thinking, problem solving or trouble shooting and encouragement were all part of the then modern day civil service. It was not a multi million, or is it over a billion yet, failure, it actually came F.O.C. Good managers were not measured by the robustness of their approach or the number of staff they "persuaded" to leave but by the obvious results they achieved and hightened morale of their teams. PDE's were not subject to derision and self-assessment was never abused by the psychophants who should not be trusted running anything other than a high temperature.
    The 103rd is not fit for purpose and the sooner it is split into 2 or 3 parts the better.
    Problem is, there is something about the blind belief in Pacesetter that may be the true reason why the brass won't drop it that is not yet out in the open - happy hunting readers, go find the answer I challenge you.

  19. However, the Pacesetter acolyte is obviously somewhat out of touch with reality.

    What pacesetter person? Are you referring to a comment on here?

  20. 13 May 2011 22:49

    I think 13 May 2011 20:58 is referring to 11 May 2011 22:59

    PCS now believe that Pacesetter isnt that bad after all.
    They're consulatations with HMRC management have led them to believe that members should vote Yes in accordance with Resolution 42.

    22:59 seems to be the Pacesetter acolyte 20:58 is referring to :)

  21. Yep, you got it, vote No, you Know it makes sense.
    Tax does not have to be tasking.
    Pigs might fly and the moon is definately made of green cheese!
    Do unto others before they do it to you.
    Have a good weekend one, and all!
    BTW, Pacesetter has done feck all for the Japanese lately!

  22. I have revisited this blog because something was wrong but I could not pick up on it at first.
    Here we go then:-
    If Pacesetter, Strathie, Hairnet & Lame Brain plus all the rest of the muppets of the 103rd are so good particularly with engagement and delivering a customer centric policy then how the heck are letters like this getting out to the customers.
    What on earth is happening in there?
    Its not as if this is an isolated incident its just part of a long running debacle.
    Get the auditors in with HMIC and a politician who won't be led and get it sorted.