Talk about changing brand perception. I had to steel myself yesterday before placing an important call… to the IRS. We’d gotten a notice from the post office that a certified letter from the much-feared agency had arrived for us, but by the time we went to pick it up, it had been sent back. Much as I longed to ignore it, I had to face up to the situation. So I called.
Surprisingly, I got to speak to a real person in not too long, after a reasonable amount of number-pressing. The matter related to our family business. We’d been late filing paperwork and owed a small penalty. So the woman I spoke with told me how to pay, but added that since we’d never had the problem in the past, we could simply write a note asking to have the penalty removed. “Really?” I asked, incredulous.
While she had me on the phone, I wrote up the note. She gave me her fax number; I faxed it over. She went to check her machine, and removed the penalty then and there. There was actually a moment when I doubted I’d called the right agency. Was this really the IRS?
Amazing how a bit of good customer service (and, I guess, a bribe in the form of penalty removal) has dramatically changed my perception of the IRS. Now if only the INS, or whatever it’s called now (USCIS) could do the same.