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HMRC slips up over contact centre service

19th Apr 2012
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HMRC has apologised to callers who were unable to get through to its contact centres due to the “extremely high levels of calls” in the days following the Easter weekend.

HMRC said that getting through to its contact centres quickly and with the minimum of delay is “central to the quality of service to which we are committed” and is aware that over the last few days the steady improvement in contact centre service since 2010 has slipped.

According to the Revenue the surge in traffic came about after taxpayers responded to HMRC’s invitation to query the need to complete a Self Assessment tax return.

Elaine Clark of reacted to this on UK Business Forums: “Now is it me but if you encourage people to call your “helpful” call centre you may expect some to take you up on the offer. Having several days of planned down time for PAYE probably didn't help either.”

AccountingWEB put this to HMRC who said the other reason for the slippage in service was the bank holiday weekend:

“A lot of people called in on Tuesday and Wednesday following the holiday and we tried to manage as best we can, but unfortunately there were people waiting in queues and we had to move across more people to deal with it.”

To tackle the extra demand it has taken the following measures:

  • moved 350 staff from other duties in HMRC into the contact centres
  • focused all Self Assessment-trained staff within its contact centres onto the lines dealing with Self Assessment calls
  • moved managers and trainers on to front-line contact centre services

HMRC said the measures are already taking effect and service is improving, but it will help to restore services more quickly if taxpayers with non-urgent enquiries defer their call until next week.

However another UKBF user vented their frustration over the issue of security certificates: “They also changed their security certificates so that numerous users with older PCs would be unable to file using HMRC's software or anyone else’s without engaging in an arcane manual process. Clearly it was totally unpredictable (to HMRC) that they'd then get a big increase in calls about those issues.”

HMRC responded to this: “A key element of security of our online services is having a valid security certificate in place which ensures the protection of our customers and their data. Security certificates are renewed on an annual basis and the new certificates are downloaded seamlessly for the vast majority of customers without them even knowing.

“A small number of our customers using older PCs may have experienced issues, however this shouldn’t stop anyone from filing anything safely and securely. Anyone having trouble filing or accessing any of our on-line services should call the relevant helpline for assistance,” the spokesperson added.

Replies (3)

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By david5541
20th Apr 2012 13:50

best it could

its about time managers & trainers worked at the coalface of HMRC,


and how limited they are in the resources they can access

maybe it will teach them a thing or too about customer service and tought to use ordinary english and not faddy "strategy speak"

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By david5541
20th Apr 2012 13:54


maybe the hmrc spokesperson should try calling the relevant helpline and clearing all the security questions and explaining their IT issue?

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By esimps
29th May 2012 14:22

It's nothing but the same old story with HMRC, nothing changes there then.

Emma // cheap accountant

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