Tuesday, 10 May 2011

HM Revenue & Customs: communications hell

I needed an answer from HM Revenue & Customs about a tax issue. If you make a mistake then they will hammer you so it is vital to get the correct answer.

"That shouldn't be a problem," I naively thought. "I'll email them with the relevant information and get a response. Quick and easy and no cost - and even better, you have a record of the response." Ha! You can't email them, it turns out. No, you have to ring them - and if, as in this case, you want to point them to a long URL and documents then get ready for a real pain up the arse.

So I rang. And battled with automated and long-winded, confusing menus. The first time I tried I sat there confused - was I an individual or self employed? Well, both actually, so which option do you pick? After battling through I was told there was no-one free. Good bye. End of call.

Grrr. I tried again another day. This time a huge wait, with horrible music, until I gave up. Only on an attempt weeks later did I get through to someone after waiting for 20 minutes.

The kicker was that in the end the answer I got was not even definite, and unlike email I have no record of it in case they ever come back to me about my paperwork. Argh!

This level of service is complete shit. It is a lottery as to whether you get any help - and you pay through the nose for it. No email option? Come on HMRC, this is 2011, not 1991.

So 1 crap for not having an email option. 1 crap for not answering the phone. 1 crap because the calls cost me about £10 to make and took well over 45 mins of time in total. And 1 crap for having no record of the outcome (which email would have provided).

Watch this video if you can put up with the monotony and horror of contacting HMRC.

HMRC's current score:

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