LONDON – Taxpayers in the UK are racking up millions of pounds in phone bills every year while waiting on hold to talk to the HMRC.
On December 18th the UK National Audit Office (NAO) released a new report into the effectiveness of the HM Revenue and Customs’ phone centers, concluding that the despite the recent efforts to improve customer service, the hotlines are overly costly to taxpayers and do not provide adequate levels of support.
In its evaluation of the HMRC’s performance the NAO found that over the course of the 2011 fiscal year only 74 percent of phone calls to the HMRC were answered, leaving more than 20 million calls to go unattended.
Taxpayers who called the HMRC in 2011 also had to wait an average of nearly 5 minutes before being able to speak to an HMRC staff member.
According to the NAO’s estimates, taxpayers who called the HMRC paid out more than GBP 33 million in phone tariffs alone, and the value of the time callers spent just waiting on hold could be as high as GBP 103 million.
In the newly published report the NAO noted that the HMRC plans to significantly improve the quality of services offered to taxpayers, and is now considering changing its phone numbers and telephone infrastructure in order to reduce the cost of calling the hotlines.
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