In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
The strange combination of rigidity and inconsistency in engaging with the IRS is striking even for a one-time student of bureaucracy (at UMass-Amherst, and not just the involuntary study of bureaucracy every student was subject to-- in retrospect Whitmore administration building wasn't bad at all...)
The fact that each representative begins by reciting their ten-digit identification number does not make the interaction more human. Anything you say that is conversational, or simply trying to convey information that is not in the exact form they expect or is too much at once.
And yet the rules and processes i was told changed each call! First i was told the fax had to be received while we were both on the call for security purposes (not the case on the call where it was actually sent) and also told that a change could be made over the phone that on a later call required a letter.
How can what they need from me, how i need to engage, be so precise but their own procedures apparently arbitrary?
Even the phone tree, just once of the times i called, asked me to enter my tax ID number (i wasn't expecting to connect to anything that quickly and couldn't find it in time, so i don't know where that door in this choose-your-own-adventure leads).
That said, everyone was ultimately helpful, and got the job done.