Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Phone Survey

Today, I was interviewed by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (a division of the IRS that exists to help taxpayers resolve their problems with the IRS...this is your tax money at work...rather than fix the agency that is broken, create another agency inside of the broken agency to fix the problems of the broken one...job security).

Yesterday, I received a call at work much like the calls we get during dinner time ("supper" for those of you in the South) at home. After the introductory remarks, I said that no, I didn't have 5 minutes to take the survey. When asked if they could call back, I said "yes, tomorrow at 1:30." Why?! Why did I think that I would feel like taking a survey today at 1:30? I don't know. But a different interviewer called 1:30, today. So I took the survey.

Every single question included the phrase "Taxpayer Advocate Service employee that you last spoke to," at least once. And was often followed by "not any other Taxpayer Advocate Service experiences you may have had." When I am at work, I have a particular hatred for the phone and all of its interuptive powers. And taking longer than 5 minutes to phrase each question is one reason for the hatred. But I listened and answered each of the questions. The entire "5-minute survey" took about 30 minutes.

Mostly, the questions or statements were posed and then the interviewer would tell me to answer "1 if I strongly agreed, 2 if I agreed, 3 if I neither agreed nor disagreed, 4 if I disagreed, or 5 if I strongly disagreed" (and he gave me these options after each. and. every. question.). Sometimes, I interrupted with my answer before he finished giving all of the options, hoping to speed up the process, but like a good test taker, I mostly waited for him to finish with all of my choices before picking the "correct" answer. Like he might change up the choices at any moment, without warning. Like it mattered, my answers. Like this survey will result in the IRS doing anything any differently than they have done for decades.

He concluded the survey with an open-ended question, "what would you have liked for the Taxpayer Advocate Service employee that you last spoke to to do differently?" My answer, "I would have liked her to return my phone calls more promptly" took a full 5 minutes in itself for the interviewer to type up, and he recited it back to me as he typed. I swear, he was not only typing with one finger, hunting and pecking around the keyboard, but also eating lunch at the same time. Then, he asked if there was anything else I would like to see improved. Um. No. No, thank you. I did not have that much time to expand on my already "lengthy" response.

And then, the Grand Finale question from the Taxpayer Advocate Service office was, "How was the sound quality of this phone call today? 1 if it was Very Good, 2 if it was Good, 3 if it was neither good nor bad, 4 if it was bad, or 5 if it was very bad." The sound quality? Okay, that's a joke, right? Actually, I had to hold the receiver a few inches from my ear the whole interview because it was so loud. I thought I must be on Candid Camera. But rather than perpetuate the discussion about sound quality or any of the other qualities of this interview that annoyed me, I just said "3" and hung up.

Now, I've extended the 30 minute "5-minute' Interview into a 30 minute sequel by writing all about it. But I feel better having gotten it off my chest.

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At 2:52 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Rach said...

That is what a blog is for - to get insanity off your chest :).

At 7:24 PM, January 24, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Exactly! I have only just begun to scratch the surface of this blog's utility. ;-)


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