Hundreds of irritated taxpayers spend hours trying to get through to HMRC call centres and it seems as though we now know why it takes so long.
A Facebook group called ‘Brucebox’ has been set up allowing HMRC staff to upload pictures of themselves with cardboard boxes bearing comedy faces whilst in HMRC offices.
Apparently, there is another picture showing an unnamed HMRC official pulling faces at a taxpayer he was actually on the phone to at the time.
There is even a link to a disturbing animated video on YouTube of an Asian man trying to claim benefits for his wife who had given birth to 18 limbless babies.
The Facebook group, set up by HMRC employee Jon Dickens, contains a number of photos of colleagues wearing the silly hats.
Although HMRC employees are not permitted to upload material to social networking sites, Mr Dickens claims that it was just a ‘bit of harmless fun’ and that ‘this was myself and a couple of friends doing a fun activity in our own time, in our lunch break’.
One member of the group, Rhea Fowler, posted ‘We have wasted the whole day with the joy of the box!!!! Thanks’ on the wall of the group.
There is also a link on a group named ‘HMRC: Portsmouth and Bournemouth CC’ to a cartoon named Work Capers – Richard and The Inland Revenue which follows ‘a day in the life’ of a fictional HMRC employee who takes calls from any taxpayers.
When contacted about the group Mr Dickens said, of the sick YouTube video, that:-
“I am aware of the video but I didn’t post it. Someone hacked into my Facebook account and posted it.”
The Facebook groups came to light when one user, known only as Nick, happened to stumble across the group. He wrote on the wall:-
“So… this group would explain why no one ever answers the goddam phone whenever I call hmrc!!’.
This is set to infuriate both taxpayers, who fund these call centres and spend hours trying to get through, and HMRC bosses.
A spokesman for HMRC stated:-
“We require our staff to respect our customers; anyone falling short of the department’s professional standards can be subject to conduct and discipline proceedings.”
HMRC has assured that the problems would be looked into as a matter of urgency.
Today, 15th February 2010, it seems as though all the offending images and groups have been removed.