Death, taxes and, oh yeah, annoying phone calls

You might think Canada's tax collectors would be a sharp bunch. Competent, educated, shrewd, with sharpened pencils at the ready. And the latest electronic tools at their disposal to flag overdue accounts, zero in on debtors and efficiently scoop up cash that's rightly owed to Canadians.

You would also be wrong.

At least, if my recent experience is anything close to typical.

Here is a verbatim transcript, with only minor identity-protecting edits, of a message left on my home answering machine:

"Hi Indochinese Obstetrician, this is Peso Cohlecta from the Canada Revenue Agency. I'm calling in regard to your old numbered corporation X87X97PD. Currently there's a lot of overdue GST returns. And I think we've been having ongoing conversations -- or you have -- with different people at the organization. I just want to get this account cleared up in terms of file-up-to-date and closed. Would you please give me a call and I can help you with that in any way I can. Currently with the notional assessment that's been done, we think you owe $7,500, which is no doubt wrong, but it's the debt that currently stands until this gets corrected, so please call me."

Things I told Mr. Cohlecta upon calling him back:
1. I have never had, nor been involved in, a numbered corporation of any kind.
2. I have not had ongoing conversations with people at the Canada Revenue Agency, just one previous conversation six months ago with him, Mr. Cohlecta.
3. In this previous conversation, I told him my name is Independent Observer, not Indochinese Obstetrician, and that I had absolutely no clue what he was talking about.

Mr. Cohlecta then said, "Oh, we must be looking for a different Indochinese Obstetrician."

"OK," I replied, "what does that have to do with me?"

"Well, your names are very similar."

"Actually, no, they are not even close."

"Are you calling me back from a 905 area code number?"

"No, it's a 613 number. I live in Ottawa."

"Oh," said Mr. Cohlecta, "that's the problem. I'm going to scratch your phone number from the database."

"I'm still totally confused," I asked. "How could this happen?"

"Well, when we are seeking a debtor, sometimes we cast a wide net and go after people with names that might match."

"This is the second call I've received from you. How do I know there won't be more? Could you kindly send me something in writing to assure me this was a mistake?"

"Well, your number has been scratched from the database. You have my personal assurance I won't call you again. And I'm going to be here for years."

We are all doomed.

1 comment:

Woodsy said...

C'est trop weird!