Tag Archives: hotline

Phoning the benefit helplines

Oddly enough, when you claim benefits because you’re not working, they don’t instantly assume you might also want to claim for housing/council tax.
Jobseeker’s Allowance is dealt with by Jobcentre Plus.
Housing benefits/Council Tax benefits are dealt with by your local council office.

Currently I’m not receiving either.
When I switched from “Employment and Support Allowance” to “Jobseeker’s Allowance”, I got a letter from the council saying that due to a change, they weren’t paying me anything anymore, until I gave them various forms of proof of earnings again.
I took them down on the 21st April, and I’ve heard nothing since.

As today is over 3 weeks later and I’ve heard nothing, I thought I’d give them a call to check how it’s progressing.
There’s a nice recorded message saying any new claims or changes to claims are taking 35 days to be processed. Nice.
It tells me to press 9 for an operator, which I did. At which point the line went completely airy. Not quite dead, but nothing happening either.
I hung up.

At least the council offices are Bristol-based numbers though. I can call them from my mobile using my free minutes.
Jobcentre Plus’ phone number is an 0845. I don’t get it free from my mobile, and even the shared landline in my house will charge me to call it.
I do find it slightly ironic that a helpline for unemployed people, isn’t free to call.
I’ve had a look on www.saynoto0870.com and it’s not listed on there, sadly.

What makes it worse though, is the hold music.
When the call is first answered and you’re put on hold because they have high call volumes (absolutely all the time), you’re treated to 40 seconds (I got a stopwatch out) of the first movement of Vivaldi’s baroque classic ‘The Four Seasons’.
At which point the on-hold woman interrupts to tell you how they’re still busy, and to call back another time.
But then, instead of dropping you back into Vivaldi where she left you, the tune restarts.
The first 40 seconds again, and she’s back to give you the opening hours again. Back to the start again, and so on.

I don’t know why, but this drives me mad.
I’m not a huge fan of classical music really, but the first 40 seconds of a tune over and over is incredibly annoying.
I’ve found myself on more than one occasion going “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE PLAY THE REST!”

I left the phone on the table in the end, went and got my iPhone and recorded it via audioboo. Apologies for the quiet nature of it, but come on – how annoying is this, on loop?
(Direct link to it, here: http://audioboo.fm/boos/19710-jobseeker-s-boo )