Friday 4 May 2012

HMRC Call Centre Chaos - Some Friendly Advice

My thanks to a loyal, reader who has proffered some friendly advice to taxpayers who are stuck in a call centre phone queue waiting to try to get through to someone.

Hang up and go round to your local enquiry centre!

For why?

HMRC will do nothing about improving call handling times because they know that when the Universal Benefit comes into force many taxpayers will be calling DWP instead, thereby reducing the number of calls to HMRC and improving the KPI's used to monitor HMRC call handling performance.

Therefore I am advised that the least worst option is for taxpayers to go to an enquiry centre, where the phones are free, and basically jump the queues.

No, I don't understand either how calling from an enquiry centre will get you through quicker than calling from your own phone; but that nonetheless is the advice given by my loyal reader.


I am advised that the phones used at enquiry centres have speed dials which jump the queues of people using the normal number, as the programmed speed dial number is not the same as the ones used by taxpayers when ringing from home.

It is believed that this queue jump facility is to minimise the length of time people physically spend in enquiry centres and thus reducing the risk of them "kicking off".

In an aside, I understand that taxpayers who come to an enquiry centre to actually see someone (as opposed to speak to someone on the phone) are still forced onto the phone first at the enquiry centre by a "floorwalker", in order to see if the query can be resolved by phone, thus minimising the number of people who have to make an appointment to actually to see someone at the enquiry centre.

So all you have to do is find a conveniently located enquiry centre, before those that remain are closed down!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. I managed to get through on the telephone a couple of weeks ago (only 2x30 minute attempts taken). Unfortunately due to my obviously unique circumstances I am unable to use the SA online system so will have to submit paper forms. I requested that I was sent the forms as I felt I had spent enough time, effort and money getting nowhere on the phone. Unfortunately it appears this request was a bit beyond the member of staff as although they agreed to send the forms they have not been received this end.

  2. Oh yes this is another joke Enquiry Centres cannot issue a blank SA return anymore (another stupid instruction)if a customer comes in (unless they have an appointment and are getting help filling them in) but if the Enquiry Centre has an internet machine they can print a blank one off we had the bizarre situation last week where we had hundreds of blank returns sat in a cupboard but we can't give them out so we had to print them off the internet machine, a waste of time, ink and paper but hey rules are rules. *sighs*

    1. Why not just do it anyway? They're not going to sack you. The most that can happen is some dickhead of a manager will have words with you. Water off a duck's back.

  3. If the same applies to the call centers would it not have been better for the member of staff to have told me that or is this another case of HMRC staff lying to the public?

  4. Err they want people out without redundancy anything they can do to put you on a C'n'D (Conduct & Discipline) they will, only takes a little extra sick and giving out a form they consider to be a breach of security and you out mate. God help you if you give out a Tax Credit or Child Benefit form. I prefer to be paid to leave not thrown out the back door for a technicality and they will do it. You cannot even open a sealed envelope it has to be sent to Glasgow for them to open as this is considered a security breach as well.

    An SA customer came in said his friend got an SA form from another EC and we said we can't so he complained and they said no one gives them out at all so people complain that's why we can't give them out.

    1. How can giving out a blank form be a breach of security? Anyone disciplined for doing this would have a field day in front of an employment tribunal

    2. Give it up mate, the bottom line is that they just don't want to help tax payers. Lets face it the only time they do anything is when their pensions or pay are looked at and then they just go on strike.

  5. I've just been sorting through 1000s of old financial papers from a late relative, in case anything is important enough to be kept, and I find letters from the Revenue (as it was) 20 years ago with a Tax Inspector apologising profusely for a two week delay in replying to a letter.

    If like me you're fed up with the lack of a working HMRC telephone system, write a letter. If nervous about claims "it never arrived", get proof of delivery. Cost = max. £1. Avoids tying up your telephone line which for some businesses could mean lost work and saves the costs of a wasted telephone call if HMRC hangs up on you at the end of the day.

    BTW, does anyone know if HMRC's admin. costs dropped at all (1) post-self assessment (2) post-the merger with Customs?

    Anon. taxpayer.

  6. Another way to get round the system is to submit an 64-8 appointing an agent. The agent does not have to be qualified. So use an alternative address, ( relative or friendly neighbour?) and think of a name. My tax adviser (me under an assumed name) now rings the tax office on the agents dedicated line and gets through moreorless straightaway and gets the incorrect coding notices sorted out very quickly :)
    This will only work of course, if you sound reasonably competent and can remember to talk about yourself in the third person. But it definitely saves time.