How I Rate: Hung Up On by the IRS.

You get hung up on by ex-boyfriends. You get hung up on by your siblings who haven’t forgiven you for killing their pet rhododendron. You get hung up on by people you give bad news.

But since when is the IRS allowed to hang up on your help call?

Talk about insult and injury. I haven’t been this riled up about something since… Hm. Probably not since I got (falsely) accused of undermining the manager’s authority at the bookstore where I worked. I am a nice person. A little cranky in the mornings, but I always have good intentions and I’m always polite.

The business got a letter from the IRS this week informing us we own them some penalty fees. I couldn’t believe it, so I called to find out how it happened. I spent half an hour on hold. (The IRS has very nice hold music, by the way.) The lady I spoke to was very nice, and shed some light on the situation. I hung up and did some more research, at which point I discovered that we do owe about half the fees, but the other half should not be due.

I called back to find out what I should do. Spent another half hour on hold (turns out the hold music is the same every time. I guess they don’t expect that anyone wants to call the IRS more than once in a row). The lady I spoke to this time was also very nice, though it turned out I didn’t have a signature I needed, so once again, I had to hang up and call back after I got the signature.

I did that today. I had all of my ducks completely in a row, I knew exactly what I needed to say and do and I was going to get it all taken care of. Miraculously, I didn’t spend any time on hold. My friend, number 94-11340 picked up right away. We began going through the process. This is what I want, this is the form I have, here’s my name address and serial number. Am I a corporate officer? No, but I am a third party designee, and I have the form to prove it along with (finally) the appropriate signature. Shall I fax that over then?

Things took a sudden turn for the worse. I suspect part of it was poor communication, though (having done this twice already) I thought I was communicating pretty clearly.

“What do you mean fax? You mean you’ll hang up and fax it then call back?”

No, last time I just set the phone down, ran to the fax machine, then came back.

“And talked to a different person?”

No, talked to the same person. She just waited for a moment. I’ve done this twice. It seemed to work out okay before.

“No,” he said, talking slowly like I’m a bit thick. “There’s nothing you can fax that would give me permission to talk to you. To be a Third Party Designee you need to fill out IRS form <blahblahblah> and have that on file with us. Those are available on the internet.”

Yes, I say, but this is an actual part of the form I already filed with you, and it says right here on the form you have permission to speak with me if it is properly filled out, which it is.

“No, that won’t be sufficient. You’re not a corporate officer.”

Okay, well one of the officers is standing right here. Can you talk to her and get her permission?

“I would have to have her permission. But you don’t have the right paperwork.”

But I’ve already done this twice. I spoke with two other people and both put me through exactly the same process to allow me to speak to them, and there was no problem or no other form to fill out. Why has this suddenly changed?

“I’m sorry, that information is inadequate. You should call back when you’re better prepared.” Click.


“WHAT THE HELL?” I ask aloud (and loudly). I half hope he didn’t hang up on me, but that he was still on the line to hear me. Nope, he was really gone. The IRS accused me of being stupid and unprepared, and then the IRS HUNG UP ON ME.

I’m pretty hard to annoy, but I was shaking mad. I’d spent three phone calls and an hour on hold to get this issue resolved. How dare he hang up on me?

So I called back. I probably should have waited until I finished shaking, but I called back right away because bite me if he can intimidate me off the phone. The IRS might have that reputation, but I am way too nice a person to be hung up on, even by the IRS’s crankiest employee.

Again, no hold time. Turns out they are having computer problems at the IRS today (makes you feel good, doesn’t it?) so I suspect no one was staying on the phone long. The gal I spoke to was, again, very friendly and helpful. There did not seem to be any problem with my Third Party Designee status, other than the computer problems that didn’t allow them to get through to the information. That’s all right, she told me. You can send in a written statement. Look! Alternatives! Helpful suggestions.

I considered taking her helpfullness and leaving well enough alone. But then, I was still shaking from left over mad-ness. If I’d waited to call until I had calmed down, I probably would have left well enough alone. But too bad for Mr. 94-11340.

The lady’s comment after I told her what happened was “we do have very strict guidelines we have to follow about verifying who we can speak to, but rudeness is not part of those guidelines.” I really appreciated that. Even if I was dumb as a stick (which I’m not), I deserve to be treated with respect. Even by the IRS. I deserve to have someone help me understand what I need to know to do my job, even if that means explaining why my form was insufficient and why I should fill out other forms. I’d be okay with it, I just need to understand.

So thank you, numbers 29-12364, 29-77948, and 94-09639. You made dealing with the IRS about as pleasant as it can be. Mr. 94-11340? I hope you get sent to customer service school, and I hope your life isn’t as miserable as your phone skills seem to hint it might be.


7 thoughts on “How I Rate: Hung Up On by the IRS.

  1. WOW! I can’t believe you actually got to speak to someone. I have fines to pay, but questions to ask because all of the forms don’t actually make sense to me. HOWEVER, I have been calling for about 3 months with no luck. NO ONE answers the phone, but after 15 minutes exactly they hang up on you. No wonder why the government needs money, they can’t talk to you and tell you how you need to send it and why! A few of them I have talked to act like they are GOD. Which if I could, I would drive to their office and show them how I felt…

  2. There were a lot more hangups when the Bush administration allowed IRS to contract with 3rd party collection companies.

    The IRS incorrectly addressed collection notice to my husband and me – for a year prior to our marriage – and when we called together on speaker phone we got rough treatment.

    The nasty rep told him if he didn’t make his wife shut up she’d hang up and then she did!

    On another call, I had an IRS rep try to set me up by saying in a loud voice: “If you keep raising your voice to me, I’ll be forced to terminate this call.”

    She got real docile and polite after I said very evenly: “I have not raised my voice at all, although your voice is quite loud right now. I’m sure that the transcript of this call reveal how many times you have avoided answering my question.”

    The written transcript of the call could not show voice volume, only the actual recording, so sometimes the reps try to set you up with accusations that might look good in print.

  3. I spent 40 minutes on hold and then was hung up on without even talking to a person. This is to correct a mistake on the IRS’s part saying my son wasn’t a full time student. I wanted to fax his transcripts. I have no idea where they evn got the ifno he wasn’t but I don’t like our SS# being sent through the mail over such a silly error!

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  5. Just now I was hung up on by IRS as well.

    1st call- waited after 5 minutes pushing prompts, and listening to music for 10 minutes, and finally a Nice lady answered. We discussed the issues and she said hang on let me check on that, and I listened to music for another 13 minutes and click phone went dead.

    #2 call- Called about an hour later, waited again another 10 to 15 minutes, music, and nice Lady answered the phone. Conversation was going well, then she was upset because I asked question about payments I had made in the past. I had been making as many payments as often as I could until taxes for previous year was paid. 10 months go by, and I receive a bill for 130.00.

    So, I wanted to know the last few payments I had made to try to figure this out. We had previously discussed her arranging a transcript to send me. I asked her if she could tell me the last couple of payments I had made. She said, I will send you a transcript, like I said. You will have to add, and deduct and figure it out for yourself. I said, I’m not asking you for…….. couldn’t get my sentence completed when she raised her voice as if she was trying to impress someone around or walking by her desk. (thats actually what went through my mind as she was speaking loudly) Ms. HAPER # 0341458, She said, loudly and in a rude condensending tone and as if I as a kindergartner. ” MAAM MAAM , Please don’t interrupt me, just because you don’t like the answer I gave you, blah blah blah and said, I am just done talking with you that’s it, and click.
    What the hell…..

  6. I have been on hold for an hour .. the person who answered was horrible to me. I said I have been getting bills that I can’t understand .. He just kept asking “What is your question? I don’t have your bills in front of me.. ” I repeated that I had some bills in front of me that I couldn’t understand and I began to read one of them. He, after saying .. what is your question? put me back on hold. I started this at 4, Its is now 5:14 and I am on a cell phone so I’m sure the phone connection will give out before I get another person. I am so upset. I don’t know what to do.

  7. Having worked in one of those offices that field collection questions, I can tell you the IRS, while proudly telling Congress how customer service has improved, honestly doesn’t understand customer service or how it works. All it knows is how to ask Congress for more funds to hire more people to continue this abysmal treatment of the public. A dozen people, waiting on line for over an hour to get their questions answered only to be told by a manager, when they finally got through, that the office was now closed and the next sound they heard was “click”, is one example of this customer service I observed. Congress has been responsible for this organization since 1913 and they should be held accountable.

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