Another day .. another trove of HMRC gobbledegook

- but the report inadvertently reveals a potentially subversive workaround!

Didn't find your answer? ... with the snappy title "Contact Engagement Programme: Optimisation progress-chasing self-serve app - screening equality impact assessment".

This opens with ...

"Project objectives:

Following the recent telephony migration, OE/CDIO considered other optimisation opportunities to improve customer experience and reduce resource demand.

The progress-chasing process will ask the customer to input the date they submitted their query/request using their telephone keypads after which a voice message will inform the customer when to expect a reply.

If the customer agrees, they will also be sent an Secure Messaging Service (SMS) which will include the date.

Advice will also be provided about checking ‘check when you can expect a reply from HMRC’.

The customer will also be asked to check their Personal Tax Account for when to expect a reply."


However as your (or at least my) heart sinks, you may stumble across this bit - in the 'Disabled' and 'Age' sections (although I never thought of my age as a disability):

"The customer will need to follow and/or respond to the instructions included in the IVR messages or SMS as directed.

If the customer enters their details incorrectly, they will go through to an advisor who will support them with their query.

This is also the case for customers who do not respond to the information input request in time."


So if you want to talk to a human, then just enter any old rubbish - or (even simpler) enter nothing and wait.

Of course, there's no guarantee that HMRC's software will follow their above specification ... nor that getting through to a human will give you a better answer ... but those 'tips' may work across all their other 'improving the customer experience' apps being developed as alternatives to 'phoning a human.

Maybe even for taxpayers and agents, and not just HMRC's 'customers' (in SA and PAYE, plus tax credit / child benefit claimants). 

Replies (6)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
01st Aug 2023 15:09

I find calmly stating "I need to speak to a *insert favourite swear* human" on repeat normally bypasses most voice driven systems.

Thanks (5)
By Democratus
01st Aug 2023 15:43

Probably an Urban Legend but shouting "I am having a baby" was supposed to put you through to a real person. Never tried it....shouting that is, or in fact having a baby. Mrs Democratus was a better choice for that latter task.

Thanks (1)
By NotAnAccountant2
01st Aug 2023 16:45

If the customer agrees, they will also be sent an Secure Messaging Service (SMS) which will include the date.

So I know what SMS is when it comes to phones:

But what is Secure Messaging Service?

Thanks (1)
Replying to NotAnAccountant2:
By Hugo Fair
01st Aug 2023 18:42

"What is secure message service?
Secure Messaging Service provides:
01. A secure, cloud-based messaging service that enables the sharing of sensitive information and files initiated directly from within your employee's email client.
02. Easy message and file access via a secure web portal hosted."

I rather doubt that's what HMRC meant (so well spotted), but it doesn't bode well ... maybe by "the date" they meant "a date" (for those lonely helpline staff)?

Thanks (2)
By KD1182
01st Aug 2023 20:21

Another option is to just set your original query date as originally being 01/01/2000.

If it speeds up access to a human being, then probably a bonus.

Thanks (1)
Replying to KD1182:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
04th Aug 2023 13:56

I'm going to go for 01/01/1671, when the Board of Customs was set up.

Thanks (0)