Canada Revenue Agency gets a 'D' for wait times and accuracy

A sign is pictured in front of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) national headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Wait times for small businesses are up at Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s call centre. When callers finally get a human on the other end, the answers to their queries are often wrong.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave the agency a D in its latest report card, down from a C- based on 200 calls over around three weeks in June.

The average wait time to speak to a frontline agent was 15 minutes. It took an hour to connect with a senior agent — even two hours in one case.

Only 60 per cent of calls ended in complete answers, while 28 per cent were incomplete and 13 per cent were flat out wrong.

“These are common questions from business owners, but some posed a real challenge for many of the agents we spoke to,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior VP of national affairs, in a release.

“It’s very concerning to find that business owners calling the CRA are often getting inaccurate information or may be left on hold for over an hour.”

New doesn’t mean better

The poor grade comes despite the CRA’s new system launched last year intended to improve service. CFIB says it has helped cut down on busy signals. 

The CRA says it welcomes the CFIB’s feedback and knows there is more work to be done but is taking steps to rectify the situation.

“The CRA is already working on improvements, such as informing callers of the estimated wait times for transferred calls, and a callback feature for callers to keep their priority in the queue without staying on hold,” a CRA spokesperson told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“We are also making continuous improvements to our web content, and will soon introduce a chatbot to help make it easier for Canadians to find information online.”

How to fix it

The CFIB wants 80 per cent of calls received by an agent within 15 minutes. It also seeks a set time frame for resolving questions, and wants CRA agents to keep updated on tax policy changes.

“From our previous report cards, we know that CRA is willing to listen and improve,” said Pohlmann. 

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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