/ Money

How long have HMRC helplines kept you waiting?

Person making phone call

You’re still facing long waiting times and having your call cut off when phoning Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs – that’s clear from the stories you’ve told us. So we’re starting a poll to find out how long you’ve waited.

We highlighted the problem with HMRC’s self assessment helplines five months ago and since then thousands of you have read the investigation and we’ve had nearly 200 comments telling us what happened to you.

And sadly there is no sign that the problem is getting any better as the complaints are continuing to come in.

Your problems with HMRC

Here are just a few of your stories. Kate tried for more than a month to let HMRC know about her change of circumstances.

‘I’ve been on every day for 40 minutes plus every time. Getting nowhere and absolutely dreading my phone bill.’

Joseph needed to know why his tax code was changed.

‘I’ve been taxed an extra £200 last month when I’m already on a low wage working in London – leaving me well short of what I need to live on.’

He called multiple times after work and during lunch breaks but whatever ‘option’ he tried, was always told ‘we’re very busy right now and all our agents are on other calls’.

Gemma suggested trying the adviser helpline number (01355 359022) to get through faster. It’s worth trying, but you may still face a frustrating wait once your call is forwarded.

How HMRC plans to tackle the problem

We met with HMRC shortly after publishing our investigation and it admitted there was a problem. It hired extra staff for the January ‘tax season’ and trained more people to take calls.

It plans to develop a ‘digital account’ that lets you communicate securely online. The idea is to relieve pressure on call centres by making it easier to update details and find basic information, but plans haven’t been finalised.

It’s worrying that getting through by phone is still a problem, long after the tax return deadline has passed. Waiting times of more than 20 minutes now, doesn’t bode well for later in the year.

Call HMRC early

For the general enquiries number (0300 200 3300) and self-assessment (0300 200 3310), the best advice still seems to be ‘call early’. HMRC opens at 8am, so putting in a call before breakfast is recommended.

Calling later increases your risk of being cut off. Don’t forget lines close at 4pm on Saturday (and aren’t open at all on Sunday and bank holidays), so try weekday mornings – let us know how you get on!

What is your experience of dealing with HMRC – is it worse than other organisations you need to contact? And what about the voice-recognition system?

How long has HMRC kept you hanging on the line?

31-45 minutes (26%, 2,269 Votes)

46-60 minutes (26%, 2,242 Votes)

More than 60 minutes (24%, 2,030 Votes)

21-30 minutes (15%, 1,302 Votes)

11-20 minutes (6%, 475 Votes)

6-10 minutes (2%, 178 Votes)

Up to 5 minutes (2%, 133 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,629

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Comments

HMRC has backdoor routes for authorised agents – the details are in the public domain here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/dedicated-helplines-and-contacts-for-authorised-agents

I needed to contact The Debt Management and Banking Agent helpline and used the authorised agent help-line.

Got straight through and dealt with my query within minutes – I was not challenged or asked why I had used that line when I gave them my own personal details…..

Worth a try….

Martin

Called 03902003310 first on mobile early afternoon after 30 minutes still not through and rapidly using up free minutes. Called after 6pm on landline. Kept hanging on 59 minutes before getting through. This is totally unacceptable!

All I’m gonna say is…

Call at 7:45am and you will get straight through to an advisor.

That is all.

just spent over 60 minutes trying to get through, I wonder if they keep records of how many old people die waiting.
I found this number but it is for agents who have authority to deal with your problem.
0300 200 3311 I got through in less than a minute but they got the hump and just reconnected me to the long waiting list.
if every body used it they might get annoyed enough to man the phone lines with enough people for us plebs to get the same service .
Regards ( a normally patient person ) Mel

Simon Reed says:
28 September 2015

Tried last week and got cut off after about 15 minutes. Tried again and I hung up after 63 minutes.

Tried another day last week; had to hang up after 16 minutes as someone came to the door.

Tried this morning, hung up after half an hour.

Now been on hold for 65 minutes and waiting…

I reckon the calls I have made so far – without success – come to about £18

Sent my self assessment in June showing I had overpaid £1000 tax. Been trying since beginning of Sept to contact them to find out where refund is. Numerous phone calls all on hold over 50 mins. Huge phone bill incurred. Tried writing a letter – no reply. Phoned last evening 1900, on hold until 2000 then message changed to sorry our offices are now closed. I am sure if I owed them money they would contact me quite promptly. How can I get my refund from them????

Edvinas says:
7 October 2015

Hmrc are used less….I am waiting 30 min and nothing still hanging on phone….

I need some information over the phone as it cannot be put in writing! I waited from 7 to 8 pm this evening and was, of course, told to call again at 8pm as lines were now closed. I had called at 10.45 a.m and was told the wait would be 35 mins then but had to return to class. Am appalled by the inefficiency of this service.

I have been trying on and off since 9th September. Waited up to 40 minutes, still no reply. I wrote to thrm on 9th September. I have yet to receive an acknowledgement of my letter. I can’ t find an email address either. What can I do? nb I have other things to do in my life other than hang on to a phone.

k dooley says:
14 October 2015

Just the worst thing ever. Sat here 40 mins of shortly repeated bad music and nothing. I have to do this every year and I always think of this problem and once again here I am. Fuming.. Year after year after year there are no improvements. Why not freephone? Finally get through doesn’t sound busy in background like most call centres. Painful as the guy helping struggles to use the computer in front of him, reading out everything he’s looking at and seemingly not understanding where to go/what to do. Clue perhaps?

CALLED THEM ON 0300 200 3401 YESTERDAY WAITED 20MINS NO ANSWER HAD TO PUT PHONE DOWN, JUST CALLED THEM AGAIN TODAY AT 32MINS STILL WAITING NEED TO SPEAK TO THEM THEY WILL ISSUE A FINE IF I DONT PAY THE BILL BUT NEED TO CHECK THE FIGURE WITH THEM AS IT DIFFERS FROM MY REALTIME HMRC BILL
IF MY BUSINESS WORKED LIKE THIS I WOULD BE BANKRUPT, AND STILL MAYBE AFTER THE COST OF THESE CALLS !
AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE BUT WHO TAKES THEM TO TASK?

50 minutes and waiting…

Cabby says:
17 October 2015

Been calling for two weeks – you automatically get a message ‘your wait may be 35 minutes’ – no matter what time I have called. So far I’ve waited 38 minutes, 42 minutes and just now another 28. Can’t keep doing this but no ail option? Or freephone? Or a callback system would be great? Why not?!?!?

shootmeintheheadplease says:
19 October 2015

1hour later and still on hold…

Absolute disgrace ! tried 4 times to talk about self assessment 4 times waited 1 hour plus ! Result £700 late filing fees

I have twice today been kept waiting 1 hour and 45 mins and still not got through . P Read

Jean says:
24 October 2015

34 minutes (Saturday 2pm) still not through

Robert Elbourn says:
27 October 2015

65 Mins and counting, they don’t know what they are doing, incompetent staffing, this is the 4th time I have had to call them about faxing sa302s …. some people are on a jolly here.

Jemma says:
27 October 2015

4 tries at 50+ minutes each time today … with the answerphone message dangling that incredibly short 35 minute delay each time … I wish!

Dawn says:
27 October 2015

I hung up after trying for 1hr 30 minutes on Thursday and I’ve now been on for 40 minutes and still no response. This service must be costing the general public a small fortune in phone bills and lost time. I would like to view their internal KPI’s to see how response times are being measured!! #betterthingstodoinlife