HMRC average call wait time over 45 minutes?
Looks like the helpful sorts over at HMRC have excelled themselves again. This time it's Citizens Advice having a go, claiming that their latest social media research shows an average call wait time when 'phoning HMRC of over 45 minutes, which is still, clearly, not good enough.
The Twitter study of 34,000 tweets made between August 2014 and August 2015 compiled by Citizens Advice, showed that over the last year 11,500 frustrated callers turned to Twitter to complain, where on average, those who tweeted had to wait an average of 47 minutes before their call was answered. The official waiting time is supposed to be 10 minutes. Citizens Advice further calculated that hanging on the line to HMRC for 47 minutes will, in many cases, cost consumers £4.66 in call charges.
In one case, someone tweeted that they had tried to get through to HMRC on four occasions, and waited an hour each time.
"People are paying the price for not getting through to HMRC," said Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice.
"From fines for not completing a tax return in time, to under or overpayments for tax credits, people can be left out of pocket because they cannot speak to HMRC on the phone."
In June, HMRC official figures showed that 17 million calls to HMRC went unanswered in the previous year- out of the 64.7 million calls made by taxpayers between April 2014 and March 2015, 27.5% - 17.8 million - were either unanswered or resulted in a busy tone.
This caused Chief Executive Lin Homer, who is due to appear before MPs on Wednesday afternoon, to apologise for a service that was “not up to scratch”, with HMRC setting a target to answer 80% of calls, which might sound impressive, but would still potentially represent almost 13 million missed calls.
An HMRC spokesperson pooh-poohed the Citizen’s Advice figures, saying: "We are sorry that some customers have struggled to get hold of us, but this unscientific and out of date survey of tweets does not represent the real picture now."
"In reality, answer rates on our phones are improving and wait times are falling." HMRC said it had recently taken on an extra 3,000 staff to try and lessen the delays.