Friday's rant - usual compaint

Spent all afternoon trying to get through to HMRC

Didn't find your answer?

I dont know why I'm bothering.

I have 2 clients who have been waiting a year for a refund - I've done all I should, written (even sent track and trace post) and I've phoned on a number of times.

Nothing.

As 31 Jan is now out of the way I thought I'd try today (I've tried other days with no luck)

First call was answered very quickly but he couldnt help - gave me another number.. 45 mins later still holdng on to that number.

2nd call was about a different client to a different number - wouldnt take the call 'we are busy we cant take your call'

3rd call.. same number as 2nd now its... 45 mins and still waiting.

I am able to do a 'hands free' but many so called 'customers' cant.

Whenever I read the reports of our institute's meetings with HMRC not once does this come up. The comments are all about how productive their meetings are. 

Our representatives need to bring this up at every meeting they go to (bet you a tenner they wont).

I can see my clients PAYE refunds sitting there. I've written, I've phoned - been promised a reply within 6 weeks. Last time it was '28 Nov 2023' = nothing.

And they want MTD?!

Replies (27)

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VAT
By Jason Croke
09th Feb 2024 17:47

Yes, but Harra says everything is brilliant and customers and tax agents really love the inability to achieve anything with HMRC.

I swear this is another Post Office scandal in the making. None of the online services work, letters aren't replied to, queries go unanswered for months and yet, taxpayers have to get everything right first time or else penalties.

The VAT number checker is broken, I'm also seeing several anomalies on the "what you owe' page on the gateway, I tried to setup a time to pay the other day and was refused because I was told client had outstanding returns...but they don't, all returns filed, I'm looking at the returns in Xero and even the gateway says filed...roll eyes.

I don't call HMRC on Friday anymore as it's too depressing and means you start the weekend feeling a failure, I do my calls midweek as that way I only feel useless until Friday.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
RLI
By lionofludesch
09th Feb 2024 18:40

Jason Croke wrote:

Yes, but Harra says everything is brilliant and customers and tax agents really love the inability to achieve anything with HMRC.

I swear this is another Post Office scandal in the making.

[chuckle]

I flagged that up last month. Not entirely in jest.

Computers are useful tools. But they shouldn't be running the show.

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By Matrix
09th Feb 2024 18:02

My Institute is too busy running sponsored events with a large cloud bookkeeping firm to use my fees for anything useful.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
09th Feb 2024 22:21

I don't stand for it. Make a formal complaint and seek compensation and then something happens.

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Replying to Dougscott:
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By Latinaid
13th Feb 2024 11:01

I like this idea. Is there a formal complaints department, or does it depend on which areas of HMRC we're complaining about?

Or do you go straight to the top ... 'Dear Mr Harra ....'

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By johnthegood
10th Feb 2024 05:41

The problem is that statistically most of the time things work fine but its those times when things do not go as planned that it becomes a living hell trying to resolve it.

If you have 100 clients, chances are you will need to contact HMRC perhaps 5 times a year, certainly no more than 10, HMRC will say thats a 90-95% satisfaction rate, but trying to resolve those 5-10% is so difficult when it should not be, that it disproportionally takes up your time.

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By bernard michael
10th Feb 2024 09:27

Isn't Friday when HMRC "work from home" so don't expect a service as they're probably in Lidl's doing the weeks shopping not receiving "an unexpectedly high volume of calls"

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Sandman
By Mr Sandman
10th Feb 2024 09:33

I remember the old days, with local tax offices, when I was on first name terms with the local HMRC Inspectors. I would phone & ask for them by name.
It was the same with banks, when I could phone the local branch manager, or the GP surgery with family Doctors. There are countless examples.
HMRC like all large organizations want everything on-line. Phone contact is disappearing.

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Replying to Mr Sandman:
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By Southwestbeancounter
18th Feb 2024 16:01

Yes I remember those days!

We had direct line numbers to each tax inspector in the local offices and if we didn't know them by sight we certainly knew them to speak to. They answered the phone straight away usually and often knew the answer to our query or if they didn't they'd check it out and report back in a day or two without us having to chase them!

Doctors actually did home visits - you can't get them to even visit 95 year olds who are too sick or infirm to get into a car and be driven to the GP surgery now! They expect them to ring at 8am and wait in a queue for a telephone appointment - if they're lucky!

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
10th Feb 2024 10:00

I got bumped off mid-call, about an hour in if you count the 40 minutes I was in the wait queue.

After 20 minutes explaining the issue we were just getting somewhere when the nice lady in HMRC tech-services was cut off mid-sentence by an automated voice informing me that HMRC was very busy, and I should try calling again later. Then dial-tone.

I expect many of you will have had your call terminated in similar abrupt fashion and been booted out of the queue an hour into the music and repeated assurance that your call is important to HMRC. That's the first time it's happened to me during a conversation.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By bernard michael
10th Feb 2024 10:20

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

I got bumped off mid-call, about an hour in if you count the 40 minutes I was in the wait queue.

After 20 minutes explaining the issue we were just getting somewhere when the nice lady in HMRC tech-services was cut off mid-sentence by an automated voice informing me that HMRC was very busy, and I should try calling again later. Then dial-tone.

I expect many of you will have had your call terminated in similar abrupt fashion and been booted out of the queue an hour into the music and repeated assurance that your call is important to HMRC. That's the first time it's happened to me during a conversation.


I wonder if statistically HMRC would have counted that as a call answered satisfactorily
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By Kaylee100
10th Feb 2024 10:42

Complaints?

I only used them in extreme cases so maybe you've not got to that point yet.

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Replying to Kaylee100:
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By FactChecker
10th Feb 2024 12:50

Complaints? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention!
(with apologies to Ol' Blue Eyes)

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By dhtr
13th Feb 2024 10:54

Have you tried the 'Agent's Issue Resolution Service online form' for cases that are more than 12 months old? It was introduced last year and I believe it is still running.
We have used it a few times - it has worked well and in super quick time.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2023/aug-2023/hmrc-extends-trial...

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By kfatax
13th Feb 2024 10:56

I suggest that you contact your MP and ask them to help.

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Replying to kfatax:
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Feb 2024 11:09

kfatax wrote:

I suggest that you contact your MP and ask them to help.

How would your MP react if you contacted him every week?

It's not like difficulties getting in touch with HMRC are unusual.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
All Paul Accountants in Leeds
By paulinleeds
14th Feb 2024 00:27

I did write to my MP once, three years ago.

HMRC wrote back to him and gave him a load of bull in writing, which MP pasted on to me. Just a waste of time.

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By [email protected]
13th Feb 2024 11:21

I had a similar situation, waiting for a repayment for over a year. I wrote to the client's MP and boom, refund was on its way within 10 days.

If that's what it takes, then that's the route I shall be taking more often in future.

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By stanbu
13th Feb 2024 11:26

Can you sue HMRC for the refund in the small claims Court?

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Replying to stanbu:
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Feb 2024 14:30

stanbu wrote:

Can you sue HMRC for the refund in the small claims Court?

Yes. In theory. In practice, you'll need to be able to prove they owed it - if it gets as far as Court.

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By julianansell.hotmail
13th Feb 2024 12:24

My client required a Certificate of UK Fiscal Residence to replace the one issued previously which was about to expire. The online application was duly filed and after three months of chasing I sent in a formal complaint. When I next telephoned I was advised that once a complaint is lodged no further action would be taken regarding the original request and that the complaint would be dealt with 'in due course'. Not very helpful. In any event the required certificate eventually arrived some four months after the original application. Probably quite quick by the current standard.

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By Mr J Andrews
13th Feb 2024 13:14

Pre-Harra days of course , this was never a problem. It's as though the Head Honcho C.E.O. is on a Death Wish mission to do all he can to miss out on the usual gong as a recognition for so called services rendered. Perhaps Harra hasn't read about the Post Office scandal and the dumb appointment of a C.B.E. to Paula Vennells in 2019 - only to be recently and voluntarily returned before the obvious escalation in embarrassment and hopefully all round deserved punishment in light of ongoing enquiries. Perhaps the Honours Committee will now think twice about awarding such gongs willy nilly thanks to Vennells. I doubt it.

Anyway Jennifer - now that's off my chest I'd like to suggest the way forward in getting HMRC to provide the service that you - and the rest of us - deserve.
{1} Forget about what this bastardised department offers in the way of excuses. Four weeks is [ more than ]sufficient time for a response in any business.
{2} If no response within 30 days , a reminder is in order - worded as such to include a complaint. Don't be put off by pathetic statements that this reminder only adds to the problem. It's THEIR problem , not yours. Get someone in to replace the CEO if this management problem can't be resolved. Suggest scrapping the ridiculous MTD whim for starters and deploy resources in reverting to a service.
{3} Nothing doing after another 30 days [ to be expected ]- FORMAL COMPLAINT letter. Copy letter to your / the client's M.P. pointing out that , apart from the disgusting service , the stress / distress which the client / HMRC's customer / the M.P.'s constituent is obviously undergoing. Invariably this HMRC ignorance and unacceptable delays does cause such worry amongst the ill , elderly and cases of bereavement. A quarter of a year is shocking. Paltry repayment supplement on a delayed tax refund is simply not good enough where the repayment is urgently required .Point out also the Revenue's failure to abide by it's own ADMIN LAW MANUAL and Parliamentary obligations. I'm sure the M.P. will be delighted to read ADML 3200.
And don't forget to include a claim for compensation. Whilst Codes of Practice now generally favour HMRC and it's ''Charter'' has long since vanished , they are still obliged to reimburse the likes of postage , phone calls , professional fees where the delay is unreasonable . Again, don't be fobbed off by their interpretation of ''unreasonable''. Even place a figure of what you consider fair compensation [ say £200 minimum ] and refer the Revenue to another of their internal manuals COMPLAINTS AND REMEDY GUIDANCE { Yes .....you really couldn't make it up - the HMRC library which none of their staff seem to be aware of or adhere to } Suggest they look at CRG 6050.

Will the service improve by following these guidelines ? Probably not. But worth a try surely !

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Morph
By kevinringer
13th Feb 2024 13:25

Jennifer, I've had loads of these cases and reported them to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/agent-account-managers-in-hmrc. This has fixed every case, often within days. You have to pursue via normal channels at least once before escalating a case to the AAM service. I also report cases to my PB. The PBs main lever with HMRC is the Charter. HMRC is failing to meet Charter standards with these cases, so these cases are useful to the PBs. Anyone wanting to report cases to their PB should contact their IOG representative listed at the end of https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agent-update-issue-116/issue-....

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By AlgernonB
13th Feb 2024 13:48

My client got a sizeable refund 13 months after initial claim, and many reminder calls from me. The time spent on call waiting was similar. If you ask me, HMRC are already automated, and their human resources are in single figures.

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By taxhelpukcom
13th Feb 2024 14:44

Sadly, submitting a formal complaint seems to be the only way to get action.

I've seen someone wait 11+ months for a refund - multiple phone calls, letters and online repayment requests all had no result...

Yet as soon as the formal complaint was submitted, suddenly the refund was finally issued.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
16th Feb 2024 15:57

As an update to my 'rant'..

thank you for your comments and suggestions but I have already made contact and brought the problem to the AAM's attention.

That was on 1 Aug last year (2023).

I received a written letter of reply on 9 Oct asking for me to confirm an amount of £30.65 which was apparently missing from the previous declaration (it wasnt - HMRC cant add up).

I replied and wrote a complaint email letter back to AMM as they requested contact by email and that is it.. nothing else.

On 1 Nov I rang the phone number on the top of the letter to chase but just got a voicemail. Left message= nothing

I have rung twice since then and again yesterday = left message each time.

Yesterday I threatened MP etc - we shall see what happens if anything.

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
Morph
By kevinringer
16th Feb 2024 16:48

If I was HMRC I'd be hiding under my desk after reading your experience. Maybe that is what the problem is. The anger caused by HMRC is palpable. Have a great weekend.

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