Passing on IRS FastPass

Waiting on hold is always aggravating. But calling the Internal Revenue Service can be especially frustrating because you are nearly guaranteed a long hold time, assuming you can get a human being on the line at all.

In the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that the IRS provided “the lowest level of telephone service [… ] compared to prior years, with only 38 percent of callers who wanted to speak with an IRS assistor able to reach one.” (1) This lower level of service occurred despite a fall in demand, and average wait times still topped 30 minutes. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, responded to the report by observing that “[r]eaching an IRS employee often seems as unlikely as winning Powerball.” (2) Much of the lack of service is due to inefficiencies at the IRS and to budget cuts. 사설토토사이트

It is in this environment that enQ has arrived. A newly launched service, enQ promises to let users “cut the queue” and get in touch with an IRS agent for a fee. The concept is familiar to amusement park patrons. Disney has their FastPass and Six Flags offers THE FLASH pass. When applied to the IRS, however, I don’t find the concept very amusing.

The idea of having someone else wait on hold for you is not, in itself, an innovation. Several companies offer some form of this service. Virtual Hold Technology was founded in 1995 and pioneered the idea of having a call center call a customer back rather than forcing them to wait on hold.

LucyPhone, founded in 2010, allows customers to call a company and then hand off the call if they are put on hold. The service calls the customer back once a customer service agent picks up. A competitor, FastCustomer, is an app that works in a similar way. Unlike enQ, both LucyPhone and FastCustomer are free for consumers to use. However, the IRS has explicitly instructed its agents not to accept calls from LucyPhone, FastCustomer or similar services.

While there are other services trying to reduce or eliminate hold times for customers, enQ is different not only in its focus, but in its methods. Callback-based services do not actually decrease the time between when you initiate a call and when you speak with a representative; they just free you to do other things while you wait. That is nothing to scoff at, but enQ proposes to take it a step further. The company initiates a call to the IRS before it has a customer to hand off the call to. It then offers to sell its place in line. The fees reportedly range from $1 to $7 per call, depending on how long your estimated wait will be when enQ hands off the call.

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