Push Button Government

by fmhilton

Recently I had to make some phone calls to the unemployment office, and the IRS. Both of them were unfortunately necessary and afterward, I was both frustrated and angry.

Oh, they both achieved what I wanted. I got the information that I needed. Problems solved.

But it left me amazed at how incredibly remote our government has now become.

Real human beings have been replaced by recorded messages and crummy hold music. (side note..our state unemployment office has horrible, grating music. It’s almost torture to listen to it..and so does the IRS! They must share the same music provider. Cheap bastards!)

In the case of the Unemployment office, I had to wait nearly 20 minutes to hear a human voice.

The IRS was a completely different story.

I’d filed my taxes on-line, and I made a pretty big error on them. (PS-always check your numbers! It’s a time saver!)

Knowing that I’d edited it, and thinking that it had gone in with the correction, I was rather naive in thinking that once I’d gotten in touch with the IRS, it could be corrected.

I was totally wrong.

My taxes filed were the first unedited form. It went in with the wrong account number, and the refund was sent to my bank as I’d put on the form. On top of that, I’d contacted the bank the day after they sent it back. Double whammy.

It was my mistake, true. I now know better..but in trying to contact the IRS, I discovered several things:

First: in the State of Maine (and probably in other states as well) there are no live telephone contacts for ANY of the 5 IRS offices in the state.

Not one. Every single one is walk-in only. The message on each one of the phone contacts is the same: “This office does not provide telephone service.”

There’s only one phone number you can actually call the IRS at: 1-800-1040, to check the status of your refund

I called it several times and was informed that until a certain day, no further updates would be provided. I was advised to check with my bank about my refund. I had, and confirmed with them about what had happened to it.

Really frustrated by this, I called the local H&R Block tax office, and was told that the IRS does not provide any other number to the general public.

In fact, they said that they have only one other number and that’s only for tax preparers. No other number exists.

Imagine: the government would rather not hear from you, and you better get used to it.

In the end, I did call that number again, and was informed that my refund would be mailed out shortly in paper form.

When did we become a push-button call government?

What happened to real human beings answering a phone? Did it become old-fashioned? Too inconvenient? Too expensive?

No wonder nobody ever gets answers from the government.

There’s nobody there to answer the phone.