Saturday, 21 August 2010

Her Majesty's Government need's to get its act together



Like many other's when the child Tax Credits came into place we were overpaid. Just over £5000 back in 2007.

Obviously, the minute I realised we had received this overpayment I called Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and had the following conversation:


Me 'Hello, I seem to have an additional £5000.00 in my bank account from you, is that right?'
Them 'err, no'
Me 'Do you want it back? Shall I pay it back?'
Them 'err, no'
Me 'No really, I would like to give it you back'
Them 'No, it is harder to set up you paying it back than us just taking it out of your Tax Credits for the next couple of years'
Me 'Err OK then'

And off I went thinking that would be the end of it..Oh how wrong was I!

Fast forward to August 2010 - we get a 'Notice of Payment' and the first impression I got was that we had 5 weeks to pay just over £700.00 ( I find out later this is because my husband and I now earn too much - even though neither of us have had a pay rise in the last year and nothing has changed since we last sent our tax credits blurb in).

Reading further down it said I could do it in 12 month instalments - which would still be over £50.00 a month.

I was not happy, really really quite grumpy in fact (surprise, surprise).

I do not dispute that we owed them the money (even though it was totally there fault, they gave it us in error and refused to take it back), but I was gutted, after years of working firstly, to get rid of my debts and then to stay debt free, to suddenly have a debt hoisted upon us.

I thought OK, I will call them, sort this out.

Every day for 8 days I called their 0845 number.

Everyday the same thing happened, I went through the press this for that and that for this, got the posh lady saying I will put you through to an advisor. Then there would be a click and the posh lady would speak again and basically say - 'yeah, we're really busy we're not going to answer your call'. Click.

Oh My God!

You have issued us with a notice of payment and I can't speak to anyone.

This really REALLY annoys me.

So I go to their website, but as this is the Government, and they clearly only do things via the quill pen or telephonic-ally, I cannot email them.

This is infuriating. I am INFURIATED (and I don't write in capitals lightly)

When I do eventually get through, I speak to a really nice person who deals with my query and lets me take 24 months to pay the debt. He was very helpful and lovely.

When I speak to a Manager to put in my formal complaint - he tells me the advisor's have the authority to authorise up to 3 years worth of repayments. I ask him why that's not on the letter, as it would have alleviated some of my concerns? He says he doesn't know he has never seen the letter. I ask him why not, considering his advisor's are answering queries about it. He mumbles something about head office.

I make a couple of suggestions for improvements and he tells me he will let the complaints team know. I say to him, so you aren't dealing with this then. He says no, the complaints team take it.

I am at a loss - no ownership, assignment of blame and total disregard for the customers, I think I could have reduced their calls by 50% by simply making the Notice of Payment letter a little bit more customer friendly.

It seems I am not the only one who isn't happy with the HMRC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11030071
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/apr/24/hmrc-tax-helpline-overwhelmed#

There is even a blog dedicated to this
http://hmrcisshite.blogspot.com/2010/04/hanging-on-telephone-very-very-busy.html

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