Lee Hurst: Hanging on the telephone
COMMENTby Lee Hurst
The Government loves bombarding us with information about identity theft. It makes you paranoid. I thought someone had stolen my identity the other day, but it turned out my mirror had fallen off the wall.
So what do you do if someone tries to do this crime? You should report them right. Yeah. Good luck with that.
Here's the story. Someone last year was using my address to commit benefit fraud. The person has never lived at my address.
I contact the benefits people to get the letters to stop.
Now as I try to explain the situation, they seem more concerned with how I'd got their number.
I'd got it from the internet. I guess they were confused when that phone rang. Probably had to clear the dust from it spoiling their coffee morning.
Now I'm getting letters from HMRC concerning the same person.
I initially ring the number on the letter, but eventually had to give up to go eat and shave again.
Back on the internet, after a tremendous search, I find a hotline number.
Give them their due though, the authorities had learned from their previous mistake by this time cunningly hiding the telephone number away from the public on a website about "The Life Of Voles".
For the next marathon phone call I'm prepared. I have a flask of tea, a packed lunch and make a hostage video to let my family know I'm OK but I'm calling a government department so won't be around for a while.
Eventually the phone is answered.
I tell "Carol" what was happening. Namely the guy is using my address for this Tax Return, but has never lived here.
"We can't do anything about it, we're not the right people," she says.
"But you're the fraud hotline," I reply.
"Well how do you know the person is committing fraud?" she demands.
"BECAUSE HE DOESN'T LIVE HERE AND NEVER HAS."
This is the moment she's been waiting for. She seizes on my frustrated, loud voice to tell me that because of my attitude she doesn't have to listen to me and hangs up.
That's how we deal with complaints in this country.
I guess I now wait for bailiffs to turn up one day to claim unpaid tax.
I sometimes get the feeling that when you hear that statement at the start of a call "Some calls may be recorded for training purposes" this is so, later on, Carol's supervisor can listen to it and simply say: "Carol, what were you doing? I reckon you could've hung up on him a lot earlier. More coffee?"
Lee Hurst's Backyard Comedy Cub in Bethnal Green runs a regular diary of comedy events. Go to backyardcomedyclub.co.uk for details.