OPINION: Working? Together? By Simon Sweetman

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Simon Sweetman wonders whether HMRC will reach those sunlit uplands, or whether it will all sink into the swamp before we get there.

The road to the brave new world of HMRC's customer oriented policies does not appear to be entirely broad and straight. But, perhaps as Thomas the Rhymer found, the road to righteousness is all set about with thorns and briars (as distinct from the fine wide road leading to the infernal regions, or possibly Jersey). As he was also warned, it is a road to which few aspire. Or perhaps it is like one of those Spanish A roads where the Euromoney has stopped flowing and you move in a twinkling of an eye from six lane highway to donkey track.

Sir David Varney and team have their eyes set on the new horizon where every customer is a delighted customer, where ev...

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29th Jun 2006 16:05


We were told at our 'continuing' Working Together group meeting recently that all repayment applications are monitored, so that they are made....automatically, without the need for chasing.

You and I know that this is not the case in the majority of cases. In fact (the very day after receiving the above information) I had a case where a 2004/05 repayment claim was made electronically, in time,, but no sign of the £800.

Chasing resulted in little satisfaction from the experience. Everyone I spoke to have never heard of Working Together (or, I might add, felt like embracing the spirit) and said that you have to chase for repayments not made immediately, or you don't get them.

I asked to speak with someone in Customer Services and was refused. They said they can't take calls and have to be told by the call centre to contact the practitioner and they then respond. I asked the operator to do so but, yes, you've guessed, they didn't contact me.

I then complained to 'Customer Services' several days later and they said it was MY fault. Had I said that I wanted to complain and asked to be put through to the 'Complaints Dept', there would have been no delay. The fact that I said 'Customer Services', apparently, confused the operator.

So, get in contact with the correpsonding 'Customer Services' dept by asking to be put through to 'Complaints' and then complain. It seems that is the only way you are going to make any satisfactory progress.

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28th Jun 2006 19:09

Not Working At All
I contacted my local office, having found a name on HMRC's website for a working together contact.

I found that not only was the Working Together section killed off in January, but the quality control people who have been trying to help since then are being wound up on Friday.

They are being moved to a Call Centre some distance away & will have to do Tax Credits (about which they know nothing) not Tax about which they have many years experience.
Can't imagine this will help tax credit claimants, accountants or HMRC staff.

Last month I was told a refund of £1500 couldn't be paid to a client, although the Return had been processed & accepted as correct, because "It's too much to refund" ??!!
Anybody got any ideas?

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19th Jun 2006 12:11

......add another one to your list!
Having been told at our local Working Together Meeting that claims for repayments on SA100's were 'tracked' and not forgotten, I pursued an overdue 2004/05 repayment (made in good time) with NW Metropolitan Area.

The call centre operative had never heard of Working Together or the possibility that repayments (not made instantaneously) were 'tracked' at all. Furthermore, I was told that they believed the only way to trigger a repayment was to chase them!

It should have been clear to the operator that I was not happy and, such was my concern regarding other aspects of the call, I asked to be put through to Customer Services. I was told that this was not possible. All that he could do was to let them know that I wanted to speak with them and they would contact me. They never did.

Later, with the help of an 'insider' I was given a number for Customer Services and rang them. I was told that the reason I was not connected directly to someone with whom I could make a complaint was my fault!

Apparently, I had not asked to be put through to the "Complaints Department". Therefore, the operator was not certain that I wanted to make a complaint and made the assumption that I didn't. Silly me!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, having taken a note of my complaint.....I have heard nothing further and I am not confident that I ever will.

If this is all part of "Providing a Better Service", then my the Lord help us.

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