How much is your anxiety worth?

I received a letter from the HM Revenue & Customs today.

It unveiled to me that my anxiety was worth £25. (You see, because I’m worth it!)

It read, “Having carefully considered the circumstances surrounding your complaint I feel that the amount of £25 sent to you was consistent with payments we have made in similar circumstances. Our payments for any anxiety caused by our errors (and or) complaints mishandling are a good will (sic) gesture, a way of acknowledging that our mistakes have affected someone badly.

Tax Letter

Last December, I was bombarded with unpleasant letters from the HM Revenue and Customs and the Debt Management Department. I was chased for the money that I didn’t have. I was harassed due to the mistakes that they’d made.

When dealing with the HM Revenue & Customs, I found that they’re extremely apologetic. They use plain language to the effect of “We feel your pain.”

They started their sentence with “I understand you are unhappy because ……”

“Firstly, I would like to say how sorry I am to hear of the difficulties you have experienced in your dealings with us. It is clear, form my review, that we have not handled your tax affairs as well as we should have done and have failed to provide the level of service that you are entitled to expect from us.” Oh, my heart melted.

I asked for compensation for the cost incurred and time wasted due to their incompetence. However, though they’re apologetic and admitted that they had mishandled my case, they gathered my anxiety was only worth £25. Because I sent 3 letters of complaint, detailing hours wasted by them, my anxiety value is now increased by £20. So, the total value of my anxiety, in the eyes of the HM Revenue & Customs, is £45, equivalent to 5 and a half live chickens.

I’m deeply disappointed not because of my tax being miscalculated, and being pursued for a large sum over Christmas, I’m more alarmed that some people could simply say ‘sorry’ eloquently and still keep their job. What about a sense of responsibility?

I’ve now put a stop to my fight with the tax man, as I’m not prepared to waste more time. With my fight in the past 3 months with them, I’ve received the value of 5 and a half live chickens. It’s a small achievement for me.

In the past few months, my memory has taken me back to this determined peasant (played by GONG Li) in an old film by Zhang Yimou: The Story of Qiu Ju.

I admire her spirit and sheer determination. If you have a chance, it’s a film definitely worth your time.

The Story of Qiu Ju 秋菊打官司

The film tells the story of a peasant woman, Qiu Ju, who lives in a rural area of China. When her husband is kicked in the groin by the village head, Qiu Ju, despite her pregnancy, travels to a nearby town, and later a big city to deal with its bureaucrats and find justice.”

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9 thoughts on “How much is your anxiety worth?

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I was just pushing my luck a bit. Now I can imagine I’m 5 (and a half) chickens richer (but I still have to sort out my payments with them).

      The moral lesson is: when it’s someone else’s fault in the first place, you (as a taxpayer) still have to bear the burden. It’s what I call ‘fairness’ in the eyes of the HM Revenue of Customs. It’s simply absurd.

      Reply
  1. wordswithnannaprawn

    The UK Tax Office do not have enough chickens to cover my complaints or the on-going anxiety they cause me. After seven and a half years of living in a country 11,000 km away they have still yet to grasp the fundamentals of being in completely different time zones. Since our arrival they’ve sent brown envelopes like time delayed incendiary devices; ignite fuse and stand well back….their level of pettiness is breathtaking and only exceeded in the area of incompetence. I genuinely, and much more sincerely than them, feel your pain!!

    Reply
  2. gigiwellness28

    Your post took me back to my negotiations (I try not to use the term “fight”, hehe) with one of the big mobile phone service providers [A] in Australia.
    We’d used [B] for several years. Then [A] bought [B] and started to persuade the existing [B] customers to change to [A]; while we can still use [B] services.
    My youngest daughter’s mobile plan had expired and she needed a new mobile, so she made the swap from [B] to [A]. However, she found she wasn’t able to make and receive phone calls whenever she’s at home. Since we don’t have home phone, whenever she returned home from High School, she became unreachable via mobile.
    To cut the very long (over 1/2 year) story short – I made my 1st complain on phone, they provided me A$25 credit for 3 months while they were working on setting up their network in our area; another A$25 credit for another 3 months were provided after my 2nd complain 3 months later.
    Unfortunately the 2nd 3 months gone, no improvement at all, so I made my last complain call, I said “Unless [A] is going to be responsible for anything bad happened to my daughter while she’s at home, I demand the 2-year contract to be terminated immediately with no penalty applies to the A/C.” And I won, with a lot of sweat.
    I think that’s the difference between Government Department and private company.

    Reply
  3. JoV

    Sorry to hear about your plight Janet. I don’t think the taxman is going to sort out their acts anytime soon, all we can do is make do with that 5.5 chickens and see what we best we can make out of it!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: My Site Table of Contents – I did it! | Janet's Notebook

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