Approximately a year ago, Mike Clasper (the all but invisible chairman of HMRC) promised the Treasury Sub-Committee that he expected to see a “period of steady improvement” in HMRC’s performance in answering the telephone.
Here we are in 2012 and step forward the Low Income Tax Reform Group (LITRG) which, a couple of days ago, decided to test HMRC's helplines by using a "mystery shopper".
On Tuesday 10 April 2012, LITRG made three calls to HMRC helplines using the routes taken by an ordinary PAYE caller, a pensioner and a tax credit claimant. On average the wait was 29 minutes. LITRG note that on a PAYG mobile that could have cost £11.60 per call, which could equate to half a day’s income for a pensioner (my advice here is that you should avoid calling HMRC using a PAYG mobile).
"No doubt, HMRC will claim that there was pent-up demand over Easter. But a customer-centric organisation (as HMRC claim to be) would add extra resources in anticipation.LITRG offer some advice:
HMRC will also say that three calls are not statistically valid. But until they do their own mystery shopping and publish the results, we are quite prepared to consider a half-hour wait as not unusual."
"People who cannot get through after a short period of waiting should make a note of when they rang. And if any adverse consequences occur because they were not able to do what HMRC required them to do, they should complain and ask to be compensated."Good luck with extracting compensation!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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