November 21, 2005

Saving for posterity, contd.

True story. A conversation with the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency hotline this morning:

Me: Hello, I have received this notice from you in the mail and I am following the instructions on the notice to call you to resolve the issue in question.
Tax office reverse Turing test* candidate: Certainly, sir, please give us your name, social insurance number and address from the notice to confirm your identity.
Me: Certainly (provides said info).
T.O.R.T.T.C: Sir, that postal code is not what we have in our records.
Me: It is in fact my real postal code. Plus I'm reading it right off the notice your office sent me that asked me to call you. Your records must have a discrepancy.
T.O.R.T.T.C: That's not the postal code in my computer system.
Me: Obviously it's correct in some part of your computer system, because it's correct on the notice you sent me, and that notice successfully arrived at my house in the mail, no? So could we proceed with the business of me forking over the money in question?
T.O.R.T.T.C: You'll have to take it up with the change-of-address desk.
--several minutes of Muzak pass--
Me: Hello, I'd like to straighten out a discrepancy in your records concerning my postal code.
TORTTC #2: Yes sir, what is your personal information?
Me: Certainly. (As above).
TORTTC #2: Sir, that's not the postal code we have in our records.
Me: Yes, I know, that's the problem. It is the postal code I live at, and the one you're mailing these demands for me to call you to, though, so I'd like it corrected.
TORTTC #2: Yes, but it's not the one in our records. We can't change your address information without confirming your personal information.
Me: Can you tell me what postal code you have in your records now?
TORTTC #2: No, I can't do that without confirming your personal information, including your...
Me:... postal code, check. So how does this particular Beckett play end, anyway? How can I confirm who I am so that I can help you straighten out your records so that I can send the government my earnings more effectively, exactly?
TORTTC #2: You need to provide us with the postal code on my screen.
Me: But it's not my real postal code.
TORTTC #2: Yes, but you still need to provide it.
Me: So how many guesses do I get, exactly?

Suffice it to say it went downhill from there. Bottom line is the tax agency is sending me notices telling me to call them, and then refusing to talk to me when I do. If anyone is out there from CCRA, please don't take offence from the apparent silence from me: I really, really am trying to get through to you, as soon as the robots let me through.

*Reverse Turing test: A test I have recently proposed, involving a complicated algorithm that a call centre attendant needs to pass to be proven to be a human instead of a computer by demonstrating some measure of empathy, intelligence, or compassion.

Posted by BruceR at 03:08 PM