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Monday, 22 July, 2019,20:00

ATO, Centrelink hang up on clients


Ever wondered why when you call Centrelink or the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and you get an engaged signal or just can’t get through? We now know why.

With most call-taking now outsourced to third-party – often overseas – contractors, there isn’t enough staff to answers the phones at peak times. This occurred yesterday after the coalition government’s tax reform package passed Parliament.

Rather than have phone wait times blow out, which need to reported and affect the KPI’s of Centrelink and the ATO they simply don’t answer the phone. Problem solved.

Writing for The Age, Noel Towell today stated: ” The call-blocking is done to stop taxpayers being put on hold and incurring long wait times, which would in turn cause blowouts to the Tax Office’s service delivery targets.”

Replace taxpayer with Centrelink customer or any other government service and Tax Office with Centrelink or the government department one is – attempting to – deal with. Often without success.

This way wait times that can extend beyond an hour don’t need to be reported in annual reports and quarterly KPI reports. Lest the media – and voters – get their hands on it.

Rather than improve services and answer the phone, they simply don’t answer the phone. Then there are no excessive wait times to report. Problem solved.

If you’re going to be on hold and they don’t have the staff they simply hang up or do not answer at all. Last week it took 112 (yes, 112) attempts to just get through to Centrelink. On the 113th attempt, we finally got placed on hold.

The government encourages citizens to use online services via the “MyGov” app. Problem is though that there are many citizens – baby boomers, surviving WWII vets and others who’ve never used the internet or a mobile phone in their life.

Many never will. They need theses services to actually answer the phone. Good luck with that happening anytime soon.

Send your experiences to Editor, Ashley Geelan at ashley_geelan@bigpond.com or leave a comment in comments section below.


Centrelink, the Australian Tax Office and Coalition Government did not respond to several requests for comment.
An unnamed Commonwealth Public Service Officer provided some information in this article. Thank you.

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