Monday 15 December 2014

Hanging on The Telephone - 29% of Callers Face Delays/Cut Off

Which? has analysed a sample of 100 calls to HMRC in the run-up to the 31 January year end deadline. The analysis showed that 29% of callers seeking advice received an automated message, ie they were put in a long queue or cut off.

Callers were put on hold for an average of 18 minutes, with the longest recorded delay of 41 minutes.

Which? also found glitches with a voice recognition system designed to direct queries to the right department.

Richard Lloyd, its CEO, is quoted by the BBC:
"With large numbers of people soon to be seeking help with their self-assessment tax return, we want to see HMRC doing more to monitor and improve their call-waiting times." 

An HMRC spokesman, using the "C" word, said it receives more than 40 million calls a year:
"We know that some of our customers can struggle to get through on our helplines at very busy times.

This isn't good enough, and we are working hard to improve the range of services we provide.

This year we are introducing new technology to help us answer more calls quicker at busy times, and we are improving the digital services we offer so that more customers can find all they need online.

There is more to do, and we are committed to improving the service we offer all of our customers at all times."
The sample cannot be called "representative":

1 It was a mere 100 calls.
2 It was taken at the busiest time of the year.

However, as loyal readers (staff and non staff) have stated on this site, there are issues wrt calling HMRC call centres throughout the year. It is a situation, as HMRC moves towards ever increasing centralisation, automation and staff cuts that will most likely worsen.

Tax does have to be taxing.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

Insurance to protect you against the cost of enquiry or dispute with HMRC is available from several sources including Solar Tax Investigation Insurance.

Ken Frost has negotiated a 10% discount on any polices that may suit your needs.

However, neither Ken Frost nor HMRCISSHITE either endorses or recommends their services.

What is Solar Tax Investigation Insurance?

Solar Tax Investigation Insurance is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Solar Tax Investigation Insurance

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"


  1. The same old replies "we are trying to improve" "we have introduced a voice recognition service to improve our service", "we were achieving 80% apart from during peak" etc etc. You will never hear anything different from Excom. Same old, same old.

    One of the reasons for closing the Enquiry Centres was that the 80% target of answering phones could be regularly achieved.

  2. Let's get the obvious out of the way first?
    Nothing changed, nothing will happen, it's a continuous loop.
    It must be bad though as didn't Clasper and Dawes go over to parts of of the Which charitable, tax-exempt organisation?
    Perhaps this was a watered down version of the report?
    Laughable reference to the % as being a minority, so is 49%, but both are significant.
    At least the call centres are in UK, at the moment, imagine the difficulty of an overseas call centre trying to handle the UK taxpayer queries?

  3. It's okay everybody, more resources are at hand, more offices have been turned into 'flexi' sites, ie: working in processing and then ditching it to take calls at the flick of a switch as 'customer' demand, or those higher up dictate. No unfortunately it is not going back to how it was in the good old days when the people doing the actual work, took the calls and knew what they are talking about.This will be 'pressed men' new to this kind of work with a couple of weeks training, working to scripts . The staff probably won't be able to answer much except the simplest queries and will need to transfer, or arrange calls backs for most of the callers, but hey it solves the response time issues well done HMRC! I am quite sure HMRC will be reporting a much improved response time very soon, as for the quality of advice given, who can say?
    Of course the 600 or so staff working in those offices that have just become 'flexi sites' can't wait to return to work after the Christmas break to start their telephony training with their second hand headsets.

    1. In business this is called 'customer avoidance'.

  4. You could say youre better off not getting through as the advisors have little knowledge or experience, little training. As more calls get answered there will be more referrals which will not keep up with demand due to staff reductions. Place gets worse to work at by the week. Of course its not excoms it???

    1. Oh and i was told by managers not to give help to fill in returns. The customer should go to an accountant!!!

    2. This was sort of what the EC staff were told, EC staff were told to only ever fill in one tax return if the "customer" had more than one they were not to fill them in as EC staff were not there to help they were there to educate so that they would not come back in the future.

  5. Has there been any fallout yet from Self Assessment filers who cannot get help this year using the internet or is it yet to come?