Last week I had to renew my tax disc for the car. I received a notification that I could now find an easy way to pay the new rip off levels of the tax. I rang the number late one evening. It proved as easy as advertised. The cash was taken from me effortlessly over the phone. I was not kept hanging on, nor did I have to listen to endless multiple choices requiring me to dial some other number. The new tax disc came by return of post well before the month end.
This week I received a follow up card. It told me I still had enough days left to pay my tax disc. If I had not already done so, I should try the new friendly phone line or the web pages, available any time of the day or night. If I had by any chance already paid I was to ignore this card. It was no marks for the system picking up quickly that the tax had been paid, but full marks for persistence, and fulll marks for ensuring the maximum take as quickly as possible.
It leads one to ask, if this government can be good at taxing us, why can’t it show similar skill and customer awareness when delivering services?If you want to contact a government department or many a Council department about what they are meant to be doing for you, you need to try in the minority of hours during the day when there is meant to be someone there. So often you are left hanging on, being told you are in queue. You may face ordeal by multiple choice, be lectured by a computer,or be told that all call lines are busy. If you do get through to a person, you may discover there is some other reason your query cannot be dealt with.
No wonder people are so cynical about government. It is good at taking the money off us, but so bad at spending it for us and providing value. There is one level of competence at milking us, and a far lower one for everything else.