HMRC ranked most frustrating firm in UK’s first ‘phone rage index’

23rd Jul 2013

Government tax department Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has taken the crown for most frustrating company in the UK’s first ‘phone rage index' with consumers seeking shortcut numbers online in order to avoid lengthy automated phone menus.

Consumer website analysed the number of visits made to web pages that display shortcut numbers and the number of automated phone menus of some of the UK's most well-known brands to create the UK’s first phone range index.

Recording 38,253 page visits in the last month and over 400 menu options across just six services HMRC took the crown for most infuriating company, with consumers citing dozens of menu options and tedious (often unavoidable) introductions as the biggest bugbears.

Ford Motor Company took the second spot, followed by Lloyds TSB, Halifax and the Co-operative Insurance Society respectively. Student Loans Company rounded off the top ten list of worst offenders.

Nigel Clarke, who compiled the index, claimed that total amount of time wasted navigating across all companies could be costing UK consumers as much as £100m in phone charges each year.

Clarke said: “As customers, we’re often on the receiving end of ‘stall centres’ that seem determined to keep us on the phone for as long as possible. Even larger companies with understandably complex departments have no reason to send customers through a maze of choices, only for many of them to end up confused and in the wrong place. It’s self-service with limited guidance and no guarantee of a result. That wastes time and money.”

Earlier this year, a committee of MPs found that HMRC is costing callers £136m a year due to lengthy delays in answering calls, despite ploughing a whopping £900m into improving its customer service operations.

The report also showed that HMRC failed to answer 20m calls last year and was even unable to cope with the traditional customer service channels. The department responded to 66% of letters – failing to hit its target to respond to 80% of letters within 15 days.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, said: “HMRC's 'customers' have no choice over whether or not they deal with the department. It is therefore disgraceful to subject them to unacceptable levels of service when they try to contact the department by phone or letter.”


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