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I think I'm developing an anger issue

I think I'm developing an anger issue

Didn't find your answer?

I understand that non accountants don't understand accounting/taxation or really what our jobs entail, and that's fine ! If they did, we'd be out of a job. 

But I find I repeatedly get asked the same questions, hear the same statements and get the same request from what I can only describe is people with no basic common sense !

And the more I get these requests, the more irritable i'm getting with my responses (which is unfair on the innocent individual asking the question). I was considering putting an FAQ on my website for the following questions/statements but if I answer the questions honestly it would go something like this - 

Q: Could you show me how to prepare accounts and fill in my personal tax return because I don't know how to do it?

A: Would you phone a local builder and ask them to come and show you how to build an extension ? Ask your hairdresser to teach you how to cut your own hair ? I'm not running a training service, if you cannot complete your self assessment or prepare accounts - employ a professional who can.  

Q: I've been quoted by an accountant, they want £400 to prepare statutory accounts, company tax return, directors return and quarterly VAT, that is a ridiculous fee so i'd like a more reasonable quote. 

A: Were you hoping for a minimum wage accountant ? Keep searching ........

Q: I've done all of my own bookkeeping and prepared the accounts, all I need are the statutory accounts filed and i'm being quoted hundreds.

A: Have you actually prepared your own accounts, or have you in fact opened an excel spreadsheet and written a basic list of your income and expenses in no particular order like 80% of people that approach me and tell me they've "prepared their own accounts"?

Q: Why does every accountant have hidden fees, I always end up paying out more than I was originally quoted.

A: Thats probably because when you were originally quoted you weren't entirely forthcoming in your requests and need a lot more guidance and work on your accounts than you initially presented (Please see previous question). 

Does anyone else get repetitive questions/statements ? How do you deal with them ? I realise my professionalism has gone totally out the window with this post :-) 

Happy hump day ! 

Replies (41)

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By TaxTeddy
25th Feb 2015 12:56

I never get asked these questions

But my wife says it's because I'm scary. Can't see it myself.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By Manwithnoname
25th Feb 2015 14:43

I hear...

TaxTeddy wrote:

But my wife says it's because I'm scary. Can't see it myself.

... deep down you are a teddy bear.

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By Hknightas
25th Feb 2015 13:02

Maybe ...

.... I should make myself less approachable - work on my scary accountant face? **off to practice in the mirror**

If I hear one more response to my answer that starts with the words "but my friend".... I may implode ! 

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By ShirleyM
25th Feb 2015 13:35

Yep. We get them, too.

We've just picked up a new client, who will soon be an ex-client. The bookkeeping is the worst I have seen in a long time, but the client insists it was done by 'a professional bookkeeper'.

Need I say more?

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By paulwakefield1
25th Feb 2015 13:49

'a professional bookkeeper'.

Probably a librarian.  :-)

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By petersaxton
25th Feb 2015 13:54

What's the problem?

I'd have a laugh answering the stupid questions from people who will never become clients.

What makes me angry is that otherwise sensible people ask stupid questions you are not expecting. As well as not reading what I've asked.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Feb 2015 14:00

.

Yes we all get asked these questions from time to time, but if it is a regular daily thing, how are you advertising exactly to pick up these dregs?

Are you telling the world "we are cheap, and knock out any old crap from the dining room table when the kids have gone to bed" or "we are proper grown up accountants, who charge proper grown up fees".

Have a cold hard look at your website and marketing materials. 

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By pauld
25th Feb 2015 14:34

Other FAQ for your website

Q.  How much tax can I claim back?

A.  Well I see that you have actually not paid any tax but nevertheless how much tax would you like me to claim back for you?

Q.  I do all my own bookkeeping and accounts, I just need someone to file them for me?

A.  If that's all you require then I can do that for nothing as it should take me no longer than 10 minutes.

Q.  (Its the 30th January and the phone rings). Hello I wonder if you can help me. I am on the HMRC website and am trying to file my tax return but not sure where to enter my income. Can you help me?

A.  Yes of course I can. Even though this is my busiest day of the year, I will put all my work to one side so that I can help you for the next half an hour. I have no idea who you are but don't worry I can see that this is an emergency and I am happy to do this free of charge. 

  

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By redboam
25th Feb 2015 15:03

Relax

If your clients' questions did not appear to be stupid to you it's possible they wouldn't then need an accountant.

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By TaxTeddy
25th Feb 2015 15:29

Just told a client....

I won't repeat his question but my response was ... "this is straight out of the “bloke said down the pub" book of tax planning."

No, really.

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Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
25th Apr 2015 17:25

(No subject)

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By Gem7321
25th Feb 2015 16:40

Another FAQ for you, I love this one:

'Why is my profit so much more than what is in my bank?' 

 

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By andy.partridge
25th Feb 2015 16:53

I find . . .

  . . . the answer to most questions posed by my clients is 'because you spent it'.

To the prospect that wants a cheaper quote you could say, 'Sorry, but it sounds like you are looking for a cowboy. We won't be able to help I'm afraid.'

But seriously, the stupid questions are an occupational hazard. The trick is to be amused by stupidity, not angered.

 

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By dropoutguy
25th Feb 2015 17:15

Another

Q  Are you going to charge me for this?

A  Do you think I'm a ( select low grade expletive ) charity or what?

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
25th Feb 2015 17:31

My 'bug bear' is...

I am also fed up with being told 'you wont have to do much - I've done the bookkeeping'

- usually its on Sage - that brilliant software and of course 'Sage balances'.

And when you into the figures there is a large figure in the 'Suspense' account.

Thanks (5)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Southwestbeancounter
25th Feb 2015 20:00

Know it all clients

JAADAMS wrote:

I am also fed up with being told 'you wont have to do much - I've done the bookkeeping'

- usually its on Sage - that brilliant software and of course 'Sage balances'.

And when you into the figures there is a large figure in the 'Suspense' account.

Ha ha! I can echo that one!

One client actually told me that it 'was hardly rocket science' to which I said well in that case you can do it yourself! I had the last laugh when he apologised to me some months later with 'his tail between his legs' after he had received a late filing penalty, interest, surcharges and an Inland Revenue determination! Karma!

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By Old Greying Accountant
25th Feb 2015 17:42

May be it is me ...

... but when I told a prospect today who is starting out as a building sub-contractor that subbies are a bit of an anomaly in that although they are self employed they have tax deducted at source I was stunned when his wife said "what's an anomaly"!

- didn't they watch Primeval?

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Replying to cohen:
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By andrew.hyde
26th Feb 2015 10:21

Happy to help

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

what's an anomaly?

a dish of beaten eggs cooked in a frying pan and served plain or with a savoury or sweet topping or filling.

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By andy.partridge
25th Feb 2015 18:14

Serves you right

Bl**dy alpha-male using difficult words to exercise control and dominance.

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
25th Feb 2015 19:49

If you think that Andy ...

... then you really don't know me at all :) - I'm more Mother Teresa than Ghengis Khan

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By petersaxton
25th Feb 2015 19:58

B2B

I was talking with a solicitor client about another solicitor and I said I was at a course with her and she was talking to the lecturer who referred to B2B - I was just about to ridicule her for not know what it was - when my client asked "what's B2B"!

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By Gary Hornby
25th Feb 2015 23:12

Here's one

"I've been cutting back on my expenses, so why am I paying more tax?"

 

 

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By shogun
26th Feb 2015 09:21

Small practices

I think small practices cannot command easily proper or higher fees because we are dealing mostly with small businesses which either cannot afford or some of these clients do not have the professionalism or even intelligence required to value what we do. I honestly believe without being critical that  some of these clients would be unemployable and that is why they went independent. One matter I am gutted about though is how come these people hardly argue or haggle over fees with solicitors and other professionals and they do with us?

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By AndyC123
26th Feb 2015 10:55

"My Mate Down The Pub" LLP

It's well known that one of the biggest firms offering tax advice is "My Mate Down The Pub" LLP who are forever offering interesting suggestions as to how to plan tax affairs. 

We find this out from comments from clients all prefixed with the firm's name, starting with such staples as "I can pay my wife a salary up to the personal allowance can't I" through "If I say it's a business trip I can claim my visit to Disneyworld" and even "how would the tax man ever find out".

Readers may be interested to know there's an international branch of the firm as I was once asked a question based on the advice given to a client by "this bloke sat next to me on the plane".

 

Thanks (1)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
26th Feb 2015 11:51

I was blown away with this yesterday.

Hi 

Well I ask a lot of questions and in fairness my customers pay me for this service as some of them admit they struggle to understand. 

Yesterday however one of my clients who I get on very well with said to me 

" Every time I get the message that you have phoned with a query part of me dies"

It was interesting as they run a very successful business but have a blank with accounts I actually felt sorry for them because I did not realise how much they were struggling and in fairness, they really try very hard to understand.  At least I can find a way to try and help the situation but I was taken back as they are usually very cheery. 

Not that I am saying all clients are like that but some really do struggle. 

 

Thanks (1)
Replying to T J Accountancy services:
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By andy.partridge
26th Feb 2015 12:02

I know what you mean

sarah douglas wrote:

 

" Every time I get the message that you have phoned with a query part of me dies"

 

I have had it said several times by clients that when I do their accounts they feel as if they are having their homework marked and feel anxious as they await their fate. My suggestion of a subsequent meeting is like being called in to the headmaster's study.

I can only think that they must have had traumatic lives as teenagers. It's not me, no it really isn't.

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Replying to Accountant A:
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
26th Feb 2015 18:21

I think you may be right Andy

andy.partridge wrote:

sarah douglas wrote:

 

" Every time I get the message that you have phoned with a query part of me dies"

 

I have had it said several times by clients that when I do their accounts they feel as if they are having their homework marked and feel anxious as they await their fate. My suggestion of a subsequent meeting is like being called in to the headmaster's study.

I can only think that they must have had traumatic lives as teenagers. It's not me, no it really isn't.

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By plummy1
26th Feb 2015 11:56

An Accountant Down the Pub

Just to add some balance we have just completed a capital allowances claim for a pub owner. They nearly didn't go through with the service because an accountant friend who comes into their pub said that their own accountant should be able to do all the necessary work. 

We have reduced the pub owners January tax liability down from £10k to nearly zero. Beware of those friends and accountants down the pub giving advice!! 

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By David Winch
27th Feb 2015 12:41

You Don't Have To

I feel Peter Saxton gets closest to a good solution in an early comment when he says "... who will never become clients."

My advice to all my Marketing clients is, having identified their 'ideal client', to put as much effort into discouraging those who don't fit that mould as they do encouraging those who do.

Avoiding 'clients from hell' and only having 'clients from heaven' is largely in your own hands.

There may be unintended consequences in answering the type of 'frequently asked questions' illustrated in the original post. But some of the answers given could be re-worked to form the sort of 'discouragement' I advocate.

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By MC1
27th Feb 2015 13:22

How about...

 

A big firm of accountants said this was ok so it must be....mustn't it?

 

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By Flash Gordon
27th Feb 2015 13:43

Part of me dies...

I feel that way whenever I get an email from a client. Even if it's an easy query. It's normally followed by a little voice in my head going 'why can't they leave me in peace!' (to be fair there's often a second voice going 'because they pay you' - but it doesn't make me feel better)

So I wouldn't take it personally.

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By Tosie
27th Feb 2015 15:28

My pet hates

My bank manager says........

Sage....................so it will not take you long.

The phone call that says "hi its only me"

The book-keeper who sits in on meetings and everything I say they add ,"yes that is what I was going to suggest".

The Sage accounts to be completed in 10 seconds with debtor ledger in credit.

Still we love them all and after all they do pay the mortgage.

 

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By tom451
28th Feb 2015 11:50

It’s the same as last year!

Not a question but a client response that makes me want to head straight to the pub

Me: You haven't given us any details for ‘rents’? (insert any particular piece of information you like)

Client: It’s the same as last year

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By ShirleyM
28th Feb 2015 11:39

It's the tight ones that wind me up

They don't want to pay us to .......

Register them for VATDo the VAT returnDo the wagesDeregister them for VATAnything else they may need

... and then say 'If you show me how to do it then I can do it myself'!

I manage to stay polite and say 'but that would cost even more, as it would take us longer to teach you than to do it ourselves'!

I welcome those (not tight) clients who are happy to pay for training.

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By lesley.barnes
02nd Mar 2015 11:43

I have to let off steam

Question - Why have you calculated my Corporation Tax at 20% when the HMRC own website clearly says it should be 10%?

Answer - If you look up the Corporation Tax Rate on the HMRC website it will say 20% for profits of less than £300k. If you choose to look up personal tax and hope to substitute dividend rates for Corporation Tax then unless you can find further guidance on HMRC website on how to do this I'm afraid its 20%. Its the same as last year and the year before when we did it and I've explained this to you face to face year after year. Why do you then need to email me and then email me again cutting and pasting HMRC website dividend rates to dispute my answer? Just pay the tax you owe.

You could however do your accounts yourself because as you tell me every time we meet you are an expert in accounts and don't really need me. You graciously allow me to do them because it is cheaper for me to do them than for you to waste time on them. This is correct because you make such a mess of your bookkeeping it takes an eternity to sort it out so it reconciles. When I do sort it out you have to dispute the changes you would argue black was white. If you don't think I'm up to the job go somewhere else don't let me stop you - as you told me when you first engaged me you wanted a Chartered Accountant so you could complain to my professional body if I weren't up to scratch. Could you tell me who do I complain to about irritating clients? 

I shudder to think what you personal tax return looks like - you insist on doing that yourself why pay me when its so easy? In that case please stop emailing me with questions about your personal tax that you don't wish to pay me for. I am delighted that you allow me to do your PAYE so you won't forget and get a fine although I'm baffled why you seem unable to pay yourself the amount we agreed and I've produced a payslip for.

You clearly don't trust me even after three long years because you won't authorise me to act as your agent.

PS - When you email me every other day please turn the caps lock off you keyboard you are shouting at me.

PPS - Its not just me my trainee hates you too!

PPPS - Are you the famous man down the pub?

 

And breath....

 

 

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By ShirleyM
02nd Mar 2015 11:58

@Lesley

You are extremely patient!

I had a client who had an overdrawn directors loan account (every year!), and every year I had to spend HOURS explaining (repeating) why it was a bad idea. Every year he would say 'why haven't you warned me', and 'why should I repay it!', and 'how can I repay that?'

I finally lost it (and sacked him) when he said for the millionth time 'how do you expect me to live on that?' (distributions of the profits after tax).

I am quite patient myself, but there are limits.

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By Rowland Rat
13th Mar 2015 19:15

How about....

The number of times I have taken on a new client from another accountant, and in the course of preparing their accounts asking them a question about "                              " (fill in blank with private use adjustments/own consumption/personal expenses in accounts etc.). The client looks at me as though I am being deliberately awkward and states "I've never been asked about that before"!

Clients do appear to have very selective memories!

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By Chrissy-B
21st Mar 2015 05:22

So true!

Rowland Rat wrote:

The number of times I have taken on a new client from another accountant, and in the course of preparing their accounts asking them a question about "                              " (fill in blank with private use adjustments/own consumption/personal expenses in accounts etc.). The client looks at me as though I am being deliberately awkward and states "I've never been asked about that before"!

Clients do appear to have very selective memories!

Oh this is definitely a pet hate... Cant they remember why they left the other accountant in the first place!!!

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By RJandCo
20th Mar 2015 16:29

Brown paper jobs - and getting milk back out of a cup of coffee

Many, many years ago we used to have what we called "brown paper jobs" which consisted of a bundle of invoices and bank statements and other random documents which were usually delivered to the office in a brown paper parcel or bag.   VAT in 1973 reduced that incidence a little as some sort of reckoning had to be done every quarter for all but the smallest clients. 

And then in the late 80's and 90's when computers started becoming routine,  we stopped getting brown paper parcels,  and instead we got little floppy disks which were backups of Sage or TAS books, or somesuch.   I used to refer to these offerings as "Brown Paper Disks" as the information in them was often no more useful or well ordered than the random papers in the original bags.  "You'll have no problem with the accounts," the client would say dropping the disk on the desk "Its all in here".   And so it was,  sometimes twice,  sometimes including VAT, sometimes not,  and often  ignoring all bank transactions that weren't cheques or direct pay-ins. 

I used to liken what I had to a cup of coffee.  The  coffee was in there, the milk was in there, the sugar was in there,  maybe even a drop of brandy or vodka.  But to produce a set of accounts from this homogenous data dump was like to trying to extract the milk back out of the cup. 

And so it is today,  except now we have Brown Paper Backups plopping into our inboxes as attachments.   And it doesn't matter how many times you talk to the client, it just gets worse, I have to bite my tongue all the time at clients who think that any old accounting data will do, so long as it balances. 

And one more thing,  can anyone invent a serum I can inject into a client's brain so they can understand the time period referred to in the sentence "The year ended 5th April 2014"

Roll on retirement,

Richard Joseph

 

 

 

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By Hknightas
20th Mar 2015 19:27

I most certainly ....

..... Do not have relationship issues thank you very much ! My 15 cats and I are perfectly happy!!!!! 

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Francois
By Francois Badenhorst
21st Mar 2015 11:11

Howlin Wolf's silly comment has been removed, thanks everyone for playing it cool. 

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