Now I have no objection to paying taxes, that's fair. I guess it's even fair that they decide how much we pay. This is how it should go. We pay our taxes and if we don't pay enough...by mistake...they tell us how much we're short and give us the bill and we pay. If we pay too much, they give it back. Simple. Then we could avoid the whole actually having to talk to them thing. Too easy.
So everything went as it should last year. We went to the accountant and put in the tax forms. Actually I did the tax on our behalf as I usually do because I have more time. The accountant tells us... ME the one who was there... how much we will get back and I leave. Simple right? Nothing is simple with the tax department. So the refund never comes. I did give it a thought but then I thought my husband probably got it out of the box and banked it, forgot to ask him. Apparently he didn't.
A couple of weeks ago he...my husband... mentions that it's been a long time with out the return. I ring the accountant. No problem he says. I'll chase it up and get back to you. He does...within the hour. He's actually nice and good at his job.
"Problem". He tells me. They lost your return. They tried to tell him that they'd never received it but as he'd lodged it electronically he called them on it and gave them the date it was lodged. Surprise, surprise when the guy had another look he found it. "So it'll be another two weeks...they've put a rush on it.Sorry."
"It's fine." I tell him "Not your fault." All fixed right? Wrong.
So two weeks went over and the cheque finally arrives. Good news you're thinking...she's nearly finished? No I'm not and it's not good news. The cheque that comes is a fraction of what they owe us. The measly portion is accompanied by a form that supposedly explains why they've kept a large chunk of our money. Except that it's in the double dutch speak of the Tax Department.
No problem, I think. I'm not easily rattled and I realise it's probably a mistake that can be easily explained. So I call the accountant who already received a copy of the said form.
"I'm really sorry but they won't talk to me." he explains apologetically. "They say it's an old matter that was before you were dealing with us. You're going to have to ring them yourself." Damn...
So I phone and I punch in all the details and numbers that the first robot needs in order to put me on the cue for the second and then the third robot. Then I wait. Now I shouldn't really complain because I was after all being entertained by the music that is being pumped into my ears. And the fourth robot lady did tell me every five minutes that I'd progressed in the cue. Of course I could only take her word for it. Eventually an actually person comes on the line. I almost fainted with happiness. Kind of like someone who'd rowed around the world and was finally encountering a human being.
"How can I help you?" he asks. Now that's a trap. I immediately start to feel at ease. This man wants to help. We'll figure this out..won't we? NO we won't.
After I rattle off the information yet again...the same information I'd given the robot, he tells me that he is unable to help me. "BUT!" he said enthusiastically...he could probably hear my dejected sigh. "I do have someone else that can help. Do you mind waiting a minute or two?"
No what's a minute when you've wasted a half an hour? He comes straight back on, because he IS the epitome of efficiency. "They don't seem to be answering." he tells me. "I'm just going to pop you on a cue and they'll be right with you. Is that ok?"
"I guess not." I say. Back to the creepy loud music again and I know you're not going to believe me but yet another robot asking for my details.
So after another forty five minutes, another human being came on the line. This one had me wishing I could go back to the first guy.
"Name?" she asked snarkily. I gave it to her.
"Date of birth?" I gave it to her. Then she hit me with the final straw. "I'm sorry I have no authorisation to speak to you about this matter."
"It's my matter. This man is my husband. I put in the return. He lets me. We're married. Sensing that I was a little upset now, she put on the in charge voice...you know the one you use when it's the very last time you're going to tell your kids to do something. The one that means business.
"You don't understand. I. Am. Telling you. That I cannot give you the information you require. Not until your husband phones and gives us authorisation to speak to you."
"I don't think you understand." I try to explain. "He's at work. He can't sit on the phone listening to your music and taking to your robots...for a solid hour and a half."
"He'll have to do it when he gets home then." she says.
"It'll be too late."I try to explain... I just wanted to work something out with the woman. "What if....?"
"We're open until six."
"It'll still be too late."
"Well the only other thing I can suggest is that he writes a letter. Of course that will take twenty eight days...after we receive it." Realising there was nothing I could do I sighed.
"Thank you for all your help." I said with just a touch of sarcasm.
"You're very welcome." she said with a smile I was sure I could hear in her voice...another member of the public had been broken.