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Revenue ‘Failing To Answer Calls’

Paula25th March 2010

More than 40% of calls to HM Revenue and Customs last year went unanswered despite a drive to encourage phone queries.

Read the BBC news report

Now why doesn’t this surprise us? Because anyone who has tried to contact HMRC by phone to sort out a problem, or query an award notice, or report a change of circumstance so that they are not later overpaid, already knows this.

And we all know that if you are calling from a mobile phone, you might as well not bother, unless you do not have to worry about what it is costing you (and let’s face it, if that was the case, you probably wouldn’t be entitled to tax credits anyway). Each time you try to get through, you are kept on hold for several minutes before finally being told that “due to high call volumes” your call cannot be answered and you are abruptly cut off. Therefore wasting several minutes of valuable peak rate pay-as-you-go credit. Only to have to keep going through the process over and over again. And who benefits from the premium rate telephone numbers? HMRC of course.

So why on earth would HMRC want to answer calls when they are effectively stealing money from the poorest and most vulnerable people by not answering them?

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There are 39 comments about “Revenue ‘Failing To Answer Calls’”:

  1. Comment by Graham at 8:06 pm on 25th March 2010

    This goes far beyond simply being disgusting service. It stinks of maladministration and incompetence from the Chancellor downwards.

    This flawed system depends on people informing the Tax Credit Office about changes in their circumstances, yet can only manage to answer 60% of calls made to the ‘HelpLine’, HMRC’s preferred method of communication.

    That means 40 MILLION calls went unanswered last year! That’s 109,589 calls, EVERY DAY, not answered. 109,589 possible changes of circumstances lost in the queue, EVERY DAY. And they have the gall to blame claimants for not informing them of changes.

    OK, then, do it by mail … well, it takes them 3 months to get around to opening it. If it’s not ‘lost’ in the system.

    It’s about time we got some real people power into the whole mess that Tax Credits have become, and got this system scrapped.

    HMRC ‘aim’ to answer 90% of all calls by next year! Oh, good! That means that only 27,000 or so calls won’t be answered EVERY DAY.

    Shame on the Public Accounts Committee, too. Their treatment of HMRC regarding Tax Credits has become more gentle over the years, even though overpayments and maladministration still do the same amount of damage as they did all those years ago.

    Tax Credits: Designed by an idiot, implemented by morons, managed by incompetents and defended by the whole lot of them.

    With the claimants as the fall guys & gals.

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  2. Comment by Sharon at 9:53 am on 2nd June 2010

    I’ve spent the last 5 days calling the HMRC and not one of my calls have been answered – just get the same mssage – “sorry we are very busy right now, plase go to http://www.hmrc. etc once I finally get passed this FIVE days later I am kept on hold for what feels like eternity! what is going on!!! somone please fill me in

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  3. Comment by Sharon at 10:06 am on 2nd June 2010

    still havent got through!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Comment by Jess at 11:19 am on 2nd June 2010

    Hi Sharon
    Thanks for your comments – keep us updated about if / when you finally get this as your case illustrates the problems that so many people have.

    It is important that you keep a record of everytime you try to get through – date, time and what the recorded message says – so that in case HMRC try to claim that you failed to contact them you can prove that you made every effort and that they failed in their duty by not offering a valid means of communication.

    Sadly your case does not surprise me – I have experienced exactly the same problems about a year or so ago in trying to sort out why after 3 months, my new claim still hadn’t been processed, and Tax Credit Casualties hears similar stories regularly. However, what it does show is that this is a problem which HMRC knows about and which has existed for years and yet HMRC has still failed to put right.

    We know that this is often a problem during June and July when new paperwork is sent out for the current years claim, and this is often when claimants are notified of an overpayment and therefore the phone lines are busy but it is a bit early in the year for this to be happening to such an extent that the phone lines are permanently busy. And even if this is the case, it is shameful that this happens year after year without the problem being resolved.

    My other suggestion is to check your itemised phone bill and tally up what all these failed calls are costing you. Usually there is a minimum charge for a phone call (about 5p) which is charged regardless of the length of the phone call, even if you only get a recorded message. So by “answering” your call with a recorded message telling you that they can’t take your call at the moment, HMRC are not only fudging their figures as your phone call has been “answered” and therefore doesn’t go down as being unanswered, but also you are being charged for being connected without actually getting through to a human being.

    I would also suggest that if this continues, you write to your MP giving details of all the dates and times you have attempted to contact HMRC and what it has cost you in phone calls. They won’t be able to do much probably but at least they will be aware that this problem is still ongoing.

    If you haven’t already visited our forum, do have a look and post about your telephone problems there.

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  5. Comment by adam at 8:02 pm on 16th June 2010

    I though i may have been the only one experiencing problems with them, tax credits didnt update my details correctly last year and i would habe been due some money back but due to their error which caused an under payment i have had to pursue this, i have had three different notices since the 11thapril and still its incorrect as i have not had any money baCK, everytime i call they acknowledge the mistake and confirm there wil be steps put in to fix it but no resolution, last time i was advised that the matter would be passed onto a manger who would get back to me within 72 hours but that has been over two weeks now and no reply, i have had to chase them but cannot get through, i have tried calling at different times of the day but just cannot get through.

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  6. Comment by Jess at 9:55 am on 17th June 2010

    Hi Adam

    Thanks for your comment. I suggest you visit our forum via our main website and post your problem there in the New Members thread. I’m sure someone can give you some advice as to how to proceed.

    I would also suggest that you make a list of all the times you have contacted HMRC to sort this out and what was said each time – this is your evidence that HMRC have failed in their duties.

    I would suggest that your next step is a formal letter of complaint which is copied to your MP, together with details of all the times you have tried to get through but failed, however, as I said, it is worth checking on the forum first to see if anyone has any other advice.

    Don’t give up on this though, despite the stress and frustration it must be causing you, HMRC can’t be allowed to get away with sloppy administration and poor customer service. And the longer it goes on, the larger the back payment will be – little comfort I know but at least you have something to look forward to when it is finally resolved.

    Good luck – let us know how you get on.

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  7. Comment by Cassy at 10:26 am on 29th June 2010

    I tried to contact them last week and 3 times this morning NOTHING!
    Just that god awful recorded message that gets very irritating after being on hold for well over 10 minutes!
    USELESS!

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  8. Comment by Jess at 11:05 am on 29th June 2010

    Keep a record of your attempts to contact them and what it is costing you as you will be paying for the priviledge of being kept on hold.

    When everything is sorted, send a letter of complaint together with copies of your phone bill and request reimbursement of your phone call costs. If enough people do this, eventually it will be cheaper to employ more call centre staff than to reimburse people’s phone call costs. HMRC are making money out of Tax Credit claimants (the poorest people in society)and are not providing the customer service they claim to be providing. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this.

    If you feel strongly enough about it, send a copy of your complaint to your MP so that they are aware of the continuing problems with contacting Tax Credits “Helpline”.

    I hope you get everything sorted out ok.

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  9. Comment by camille at 8:53 am on 4th August 2010

    I have used £100 worth of phone credit now on chasing the tax credits! My son is 5 months old and I have still not received a single tax credit payment so as a single mum I am struggling a lot to afford to live,I was promised my 1st payment and backpayment 2 months ago now and have rang every day since to find out why I have not received it but they are constantly busy! I feel like smashing my phone up!!! Do I just have to keep ringin now and wait for them to answer? Help!!!

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  10. Comment by Adrienne Satterley at 11:27 pm on 17th August 2010

    I tried for 3 days at the end of July to get through, on Sat i had a letter stating that my tax credits have been stopped and i must phone them! ha ha what a joke, i have my calls all logged and i can be hold for up to 45 minutes and STILL not get through

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  11. Comment by anon at 1:36 pm on 23rd August 2010

    the overseas no is 01355 359007 call from your mobile and tell them your out of the country at the mo as its a number for when you are abroad and want to contact the uk its actually a uk number got thru straight away good luck

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  12. Comment by jo rylance at 11:04 am on 28th August 2010

    been trying to get through for a month to get a claim pack sent out ….dread the phone bill ,
    why the hell do they keep you on hold for 2 mins before telling you to call back later and hanging up on you !!!
    another reason why i hate rip off britain

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  13. Comment by shirley at 11:39 am on 2nd December 2010

    can someone please tell me how far back HMRC keep their recorded phone calls for?…..they have been overpaying me for almost 12 months and no matter how often i ring to tell them they say `no dont worry youre entitled to it`, and now all of a sudden they tell me i will be prosecuted.
    I am near on suicidal right now…please help.!

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  14. Comment by sam at 9:07 pm on 22nd December 2010

    hi i just changed my claim to joint claim its been 4 weeks now and when ever i call tax credits they always saying ur claim is processing can some one plz tell me how long dose these ppl need to proccess a claim thank u

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  15. Comment by exasperated at 3:07 pm on 10th January 2011

    Be warned! If you do eventually get through to make a claim you’ll be asked a lot of obscure questions: ‘When exactly did your mortgage start?’ and ‘What is your UTR (unique tax reference)?’ HAVE THIS SORT OF INFO READY!! If you get one answer wrong the system will refuse you and you’ll have to go in person to a tax center to claim.

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  16. Comment by Rick at 5:13 pm on 8th February 2011

    I have been trying to get through to pay my Corporation tax by phone for over a week. Every hour on the hour I have made ten attempts – though I’d cracked it at 5:01 pm yesterday 0 er, no – they all pissed off at 5:00 lazy idiots.

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  17. Comment by Gaz at 4:24 pm on 13th July 2011

    I’m getting the same problem im ringing and ringing and nobody seems to answer. It’s very frustrating, HM REVENUE HAVE NO SHAME!

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  18. Comment by Deflated at 5:30 pm on 15th July 2011

    Have tried to get an answer by an Advisor on five seperate occasions this afternoon on Number 0845 3000 627 . Still no reply at 5.30 pm!

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  19. Comment by sarah at 5:45 pm on 14th September 2011

    After continuous calls to wftc I finally got thru in aug. To be told my credit has stoped even though watchdog had stated wftc were giving everyone an extra month due to high call volume.I had a manager say I should have posted renewal couldn’t as lost went on website no facility to reprint or apply online,I’ve now been tod to pay back thousands even though I still had 2 kids to support.I appealed and got told I have to pay wat a joke!

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  20. Comment by Frank at 11:19 pm on 27th January 2012

    Want to pay over £4000 owed in taxes,but just cannot get through on phone!! Have waited up to 20 Mins on 0845 No., still no one there to answer phone.Have given up ,will give money to bailiff when he comes round!

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  21. Comment by calum morrison at 5:10 pm on 16th February 2012

    I am on a small pension and augment my income to the tune of roughly £5000 pounds per year. I have recently discovered that I sometimes pay tax at the 40% rate – outrageous.! tried phoning several times this afternoon and of course failed to get through. Reading this blog fills me with despair. Only getting to 40% of their calls is a national outrage and must cause massive stress to people on low income and it has to stop. I for one will be contacting my MP.

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  22. Comment by Rob C at 7:28 pm on 18th April 2012

    What an absolute waste of space, quick enough to get in touch when there owed money but absolutely rubbish when they owe you, question out there can we as the public with enough evidence and information instruct a debt collector to recoup the costs?

    I’ve wrote, called, emailed and guess what nothing absolutely nothing, got passed the months of ‘were sorry we can’t deal with your call right now’ spoke to one person and they are still not sending child tax credits working tax credits or family allowance, my son is now 2! I wonder how much of a back payment I’m entitled to? Not received a thing since he was born

    Absolutely rubbish!

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  23. Comment by Carol at 11:03 am on 20th April 2012

    I received a tax calcualtion from them stating i would be receiving a cheque for an overpayment in the next 14 days. That was a month and a half ago, i have sent a letter and tried phoning but heard nothing. By the time i receive my cheque i probably would have spent the money i am owed by chasing it!! Most normal companies wouldn’t be able to get away with this, how can they!

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  24. Comment by soicowboy at 9:42 am on 27th April 2012

    I got through today after options in 2 mins [how]? easy, lines open at 8.00 am be the first in the queue at ring at that time.

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  25. Comment by scoobydoo at 1:46 pm on 27th April 2012

    I keep trying to get my ’emergency’ tax code changed as they took about £300 too much tax off me this month.. and am met on the “helpine” with an abrupt ‘we cant take your call, sorry goodbye’. i just want to strangle someone

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  26. Comment by Sophie at 1:57 pm on 2nd May 2012

    I have now been waiting for someone to answer my call on the 0845 number for nearly an hour… if i hang up i will lose my place in the queue or is there an actual queue here???? What a waste of time….

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  27. Comment by livnletliv at 3:21 am on 4th May 2012

    Got letter saying been overpaid £300, so using the daily rates in the CPAG handbook in the library, i worked it out to the penny, and they was no overpayment, but an underpayment of over £500, rang yhem on one of the 013 number’s from mobile, as no landline, (during corronation street) got the the usual this is tax credits message, then some jobsworth cocky childish boy asks all my details, then asks where i am phoning from, then says i have rang the wrong number and he is in china and i need to ring the correct number, i told him the switchboard message had just said it was tax credits, and ask why he wanted to know where i was calling from, and why should i ring an 0845 number to get through to the same department, and was it because he wanted to make loads of revenue from scam telephone numbers to keep himself in a job, and he just cut me off, so i rang the same number, and luckily that time got someone with a few manners, but still waiting for my underpayment

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  28. Comment by Soph at 8:42 am on 4th May 2012

    Am having a real fun time trying to get through on the 0845 number, have tried since 8:15 this morning, and same time yesterday. Am wasting tons of my mobiles credit and just get put on hold constantly. Really frustrating.

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  29. Comment by Fred at 12:29 pm on 5th May 2012

    I keep trying to contact HMRC on their 0845 number but no answer. I saw a number 01355 359022 but that just says “this is for overseas callers only” please ring the 0845 number. I’ve now written (which I believe takes 3 weeks to be dealt with) but what a disgrace the phone system is. Not even a “you are number X in the queue” just annoying music. Is there anywhere you can complain?

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  30. Comment by Ashleigh at 5:30 pm on 16th May 2012

    Is there any way to be reinbursed for calls made to HMRC? I’ve just gotten a phone bill for £387, which are purely on calls to them to sort child benefit/tax credits. I got through, but thats hardly the point, I called them because I don’t have enough money to live even though my husband works, so obviously I cannot afford the bill there! Is there anything I can do? I’m so stressed, I can’t afford my bill & need my credit rating to stay good 🙁

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  31. Comment by Martyn Williams at 7:43 pm on 17th May 2012

    Have tried contacting hmrc to tell them that they have not informed my employer who pays my pension that they should give me a lower paye number . I know I owe the tax man some money and all I want to do is pay it, but so far I have spent about two hours on the phone today trying to contact them to tell them that I want to pay them this money ! Seems ridiculous with all these folks out of work that they cant employ more opperatives !. I had the same trouble last year.I think it is a discrace !.

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  32. Comment by Orias at 12:17 pm on 26th June 2012

    Hi
    I have been trying to call B&C Compliance in Merseyside today. Their letter provides a telephone and fax number and office times of opening. All I get is a ringing ‘phone! No message as to when someone might be available. They have asked me to provide info that we don’t have and I need to inform them of their error. Will write to them obviously, but timescale for requested info is short and HMRC not known for speedy response times! I have emailed my MP in the hope of some intervention. V v frustrating.

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  33. Comment by sfh123 at 10:42 pm on 6th July 2012

    I was claimed working tax credit and child tax credit about three month ago but I havn’t heard from them anything,and when I try to phone them they are so busy and if they pick the phone they said now my case handling special team since month and half,please some body could let me know how long they will takes.

    Thanks

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  34. Comment by Big Dog at 11:09 am on 2nd August 2012

    I made a call on July 9th to get the form for Child Tax Credits, even as the operative stumbled through her questions. I was told I’d have the form with 14 days. I’ve still not received it and I’ve been calling them since Monday but keep getting all the way through the horrific automated service to get to the “Sorry, we can’t deal with your call right now. Call back another time” message. Disgraceful. Anyway, I called the International number, got through immediately, got chastised for using the number when I wasn’t overseas, but had my situation dealt with very swiftly. A new form is being sent out to me now, which I’m sure won’t get dealt with efficiently! The lady on the phone also told me that I’d have to write a letter and attach it asking for the backdating to be further than a month due to not receiving the claim form. Has anyone else had any experience with this? I thought the backdating went back further anyway, but obviously not….

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  35. Comment by charlieboy at 1:37 pm on 3rd August 2012

    This fiasco is still going on. I notice these comments go back to 2010! I am sure that the peopel “responsible” for this disgrace are enjoying their bonus for failing – this seems to be the norm now, see the bankers. I have been trying all morning, I get cutoff after 2 minutes of rubbish about payments being made early in August, I must be missing something here, I thought we are in September now?, how I can get answers to questions online – they then give a list of the questions!!! I finally managed to get to a dialling tone and horrible music (I kept pressing 0) and waitied for 4 minutes 45 seconds and then the line went dead. Called back and told they cannot deal and they hung up. I have tried local MP but he has so many complaints he is snowed under. Why cannot someone grab these public servants by the proverbials and sort the problem out? My phone bill,as others have found, will probably be more than what I will get back – perhaps that is there master plan, sting us for money on the phone and then wait for us to give up so they do not need to pay what we are entitlled to. Over the last 20 years of dealing with the idiots, they have tried to bankrupt me – they did not bother to turn up to court so the judge threw it out,this happened twice. They claimed we owed anything from £545 to £6,500 – this was the amount they took us to court for – I even had a closing account letter showing thay a balance of £550 was owed – I told the judge that due to the totally differnet numbers involved I would not being paying that sum either – she agreed; the idiots gave up after this. Sorry for the rant, they drive me mad with this total lack of competence.

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  36. Comment by Mel at 12:51 pm on 20th August 2012

    I have been trying for a week now to get through to them to actually save them money !!! My son starts at school in two weeks and I no longer need his nursery fee’s yet I cannot get through to them to tell them ! Ill soon have someone getting in touch with me when they think I’ve been overpaid ! It is an absolute joke !! Something needs to be done

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  37. Comment by nicki at 2:15 pm on 30th August 2012

    Hi same problem trying to update information they asked for rang the number they gave me in a letter and all i get is unable to get your call right now and cant leave a message good bye and shuts of on one occasion managed to get through and lady said will call you back on my number given and they dont resulting constant calling and not getting anywere with anyone even enquiry numbers i have called i have sent 2 letters but according to threads they dont read for months.

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  38. Comment by nicki at 2:24 pm on 30th August 2012

    to everyone having problems download a recording app to your phone so can record numbers called and any conversations you may get if lucky to so they can not dispute your calls if send letters send them special delivery so can get them signed for also have evidence there. Also try get a mp to ring on your behalf or CAB officer to contact them regarding querys or anything so can hear and see for them selves.

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  39. Comment by Siouxsie at 10:01 am on 16th October 2012

    I have been calling the number given at the top of my letter now for 3 days…i get the same message ‘sorry i am with another caller or you have called out of office hours, to ensure i can deal with you call effectively, dont leave a message just call back in office hours’. I have been calling from 8am to 5pm every 15/30 mins for 3 days. I am fuming and each time i get the answer machine it costs me money. How/where do i complain?

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