Working as a call centre agent for SARS must be the most depressing and stressful job in South Africa at the moment…despite what SARS very impressive PR machine would have us believe, the efiling system is completely unstable so far this year. There are functionalities missing from the site (like making payments for provisional tax) and you can not get to speak to anyone who can take any sort of action. IRP5 information mysteriously goes missing only to re-appear the following day…the return does not “scroll down” making it very difficult to use and much of the previous year’s information has not pulled through, assessments have basic errors on them resulting in unnecessary disputes (I could go on).
The email addresses on the SARS site dont work and the only way to contact SARS is via the call centre or stand in the queue (be prepared to wait a very long time). When you finally get to speak to someone, you usually get deferred to someone else as the poor call centre agent does not have the scope or ability to deal with the issue at hand and they cant pass you on to anyone else either (the chap responsible for the mess does not take calls). You get issued with a case number and then you just have to wait…turnaround times seem to vary,5 working days to 21 working days to 90 working days, depending on to whom you speak. But the whole process is so unbelievably inefficient – instead of the issue being resolved then and there, more work is created…this must be the epitome of inefficiency and the poor call centre agents must surely bear the brunt of the frustrated tax practitioners and public.
Me thinks that behind the scenes there are some very serious problems and while SARS might be the most efficient government department, I think that the benchmark is very low…I would not be surprised if the whole system falls over in the near future.