Monday, 13 April 2015


I spent a quarter of an hour on the phone today with the Inland Revenue Service. I was failing to order a tax pack for the year ended March 2015.

Apparently although the website for the IRD has a big sign saying that tax returns must be filed by the 07 July 2015 they have another sign which they're hiding saying you can't file them yet.

I have to wait until mid-May before I'm lucky enough to trust my ability to add and subtract to a government department.

The phone conversation was rather interesting. The first ten minutes was spent chatting with a very friendly voice robot. He would ask me a question in a lovely inquiring way, and then wait for an answer. I would answer, and then there would be a pause for long enough for me to wonder if I'd not spoken loudly enough, then he would come back on the line and repeat what I'd said and ask if that was right.

'I heard "blah blah blah blah" is that correct?'

Pause again, and then he would move to the next question. It was all a bit creepy.

After signing up for their voice recognition service so the next time I called them it wouldn't take as long, I was told that there was a queue for the next human but I could hang up now and they would call me back when it was my turn. There wasn't another option offered, so I chose that one.

The computer helpfully informed me that it would be a wait of two to five minutes before I received a call back.

The computer may be smart, but the computer be wrong.

Eight minutes passed, while I was poised to answer the phone. Eight minutes. That's more than if you added their highest and lowest estimate together.

When I pounced on the ringing phone I was looking forward to hearing a human voice at long last. Alas, it was not to be.

First of all I had to confirm to the computer voice that I was indeed Katherine Hayton and I was indeed expecting a call back from the IRD. Then I was put through to a human. Guess what he did?

He told me that he'd be able to help me with my inquiry, but first of all I needed to pass a privacy check conducted by - you guessed it - the voice computer.

It was quite a lot of computing to obtain the answer that no one could help me with anything yet.

Still, better than the good old days when a human being would answer the phone only to tell you that there was no one available and put you on hold with muzac selected by a phone company who thought mariachi was making a comeback.

Good to know my taxes are being spent wisely.

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