Now I get faster payments.Reason: I made one and screwed it up.The other day I was online, doing banking stuff and, as Her Majesty Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Tax Office is forcing all of us to start doing things online, I sent in my VAT declaration electronically.No big deal and, after a jittery start, all went swimmingly well.At the end, the VAT office asked for payment to be made electronically too, so I signed in online and did the setup.However, I decided not to pay there and then, as the monies weren’t due for a week.So, one week later and in a rush as usual, I went through the payment process online.With my two-factor authentication terminal at hand, I made that payment online.Me, as a taxpayer and customer, had done all the work and so it cost the bank, Her Majesty and the environment nothing, as no paper changed hands at all.Fantastic.Then it got a bit weird as, a few weeks later, I get a VAT payment demand in the post.Bad for the environment and for me, as I’d paid it.I ring the VAT office and whine: “but I paid this”.“No you didn’t, you little tax evader, and if you don’t pay now we’re going to send the boyz around”, says the upstart tax collections agent at the other end.“What boyz are these?” I enquire.“Urmm ...”, losing his nerve a bit methinks, “the Back Street Boys?”Sure, sure.Well, they are adamant I haven’t paid, so I go online with the bank and look at the payment details on the account.Oh no!Sure enough, I had made the payment, but to VAT DHL rather than VAT HMRC.These were the descriptors I had set up online to describe some epayments, with VAT DHL being for taxes demanded on imported goods.Darnit.So I ring the bank.“Hello”, says the nice-but-dim customer service representative (NCSR) at the other end of the line.“Hello”, mesays back. “I’ve messed up a bit I think, and made a payment to DHL rather than the HMRC for VAT.”NCSR: “And how can I help?”“Well”, mesays, wondering if this person heard me, “can you get my money back”.NCSR: “Maybe. I’ll take a look ...”“Urmmm .... today perchance?” I have the patience of a gnat.NCSR: “Alright. Name?”“Chris Skinner.”NCSR: “Account number and sort code?”“83751681 and 93-56-29.” NCSR: “No sir, that’s not your account.”“Yes it is”, I assert. “What’s the problem?”NCSR: “Not the right name.”“Well, of course it isn’t”, I tut. “You asked for my name and it’s my business account, so the name is: Balatro Ltd.”NCSR: “Well, you could have said that at the start Mr. Skinner.”Hold one’s breath and count to ten.NCSR: “Now then, I just need to ask you some security questions. Address.”Yep.NCSR: “Your secret pass code?”Yep.“The last payment from the account?”Yep.“The reason for your purchase of that downloaded porn movie?”Damn those ACS:Law people.NCSR: “OK, you pass. Now, what’s the problem?”“Well”, mesays, “I paid my VAT the other day to the wrong account. I meant to pay it to VAT HMRC, and I accidently paid it to VAT DHL.”NCSR: “When was this sir?”“11th September.”NCSR: “Ah yes, I see it.” Pause. “Tough.”“What?”NCSR: “I said ‘tough’ sir.”“What do you mean, ‘tough’.”NCSR: “Well you paid it.”“I know, and I now want to revoke the payment and get the money back”, I badger.NCSR: “Tough.”“What do you mean, ‘tough’??”NCSR: “Well, it’s your fault innit?”“No it isn’t. It’s your banking service.”NCSR: “Yes, but you did this with a Faster Payment.”“Well, I didn’t ask for one.”NCSR: “Tough.”“Now I’m getting fed up with you saying ‘tough’. Why is it tough?”NCSR: “Well, you’ve paid it by a Faster Payment. That’s like giving them cash. Unless they want to give you the cash back, then you’re screwed.” At this point, I’m thinking something’s amiss.“Can’t you just give me the money back?” I plead.NCSR: “Nope. You gave them the money, they’ve got it, and so it’s nothing to do with us now.”
I hang up and ponder the fact that I know no-one in DHL to ask about getting the cash back and vow that, next time, I’ll send HMRC a cheque.If interested, here are the FAQ’s on Faster Payments, with the clearest statement:Question: Can I amend or cancel a Faster Payment once it has been sent?
Answer: No, once a Faster Payment has been sent you cannot amend or cancel it.