Having to call HM Revenue and Customs (known as the TaxMan) you know that for at least the first 5 minutes of the call you will be kept waiting because the machine will tell you: "All our agents are busy at the moment...Please hold and your call will be answered as soon as possible".
In fact, whilst the disgusting music is playing in the background, you can actually make use of your waiting time, like this....
As soon as you are left on hold, lay the phone down and make a nice cup of tea and a sandwich or maybe do that hoovering job or load up your washing machine but please remember you only have a guaranteed 5 minutes of waiting time, it is extremely rare that you will be able to speak to a human for the first 5 minutes of your call.
The idea of 084 or 087 numbers is so the people you call are able to make money on that call, which is all very well for private companies but for the HMRC, DWP (jobcenter) Police and Councils, it is yet another sneaky way this government is stealing from us. Which is plain wrong and when calling the DWP the 'machine' will actually tell you that your call is charged at 'local rates' and "calls from mobiles will be considerably more"
But the outrageous NHS Direct are on an 0845 number and also some GP surgerys use them and having to call a doctor or nurse on a 0845 number is nothing short of criminal.
There is a really good website www.saynoto0870.com which will give you an alternative number to call, Its simple to use and all you do is type in the number you want to call and it will show the results on another page, which is great when you need to call 0845 numbers.
The only disadvantage I have found is the person you are calling will know you are using the alternative number and in some cases let the 'machine' answer your call and you can almost guarantee they will not call you back especially HMRC Leicester and if you ask for an alternative number you will be told "this is the only number we have" and "its charged at 'local rates' ", which is an outright lie.
While comparing the cost of my call to HMRC with my telephone provider, if it was "local rates" my 11 minute call would have been 32 pence cheaper! "only 32 pence?" I hear you say? ok... so if only 100 people a day have to call HMRC and their calls are longer than mine you can see how the money soon mounts up.
Many people don't realise that there are many phone providers offering cheaper calls to standard telephone numbers (those beginning with 01, 02 or 03), but the cheaper calls don't apply to 0844, 0845, 0870 or 0871 telephone numbers.
If you have an 'inclusive landline calls' phone package, then it is very rare that 0844, 0845, 0870, and 0871 numbers are all included in your 'free minutes' allocation, unlike normal numbers. Many mobile phone packages also exclude freephone 0800 and 0808 numbers for your bundled minutes. BT and some other companies are starting to include 0845 and 0870, but this only applies to certain packages, and does not apply to 0844 and 0871 numbers.
So think before you dial and get your ironing ready to do whilst they feed of you.