I just rang my accountant and asked if he’d died because he hadn’t answered an email. Insensitive? No. Here’s why.

Sarah Lockett, TBD Media
Sarah Lockett, TBD Media

I pay him about £800 a year to do not very much, as far as I can see. He files my accounts and calculates the tax, and prints off a paper version for me to sign. We still use books and paper, as he hasn’t advised me on a digital accounting software preference, or even Excel spreadsheets (even though I’ve asked).

I enter all my earnings manually, with a pen! And I enter all my expenses in the same way. At the end of my accounting year, I add up all the totals and calculate my earnings and expenses. The rest seems to be a question of just entering different amounts in different columns online, and signing them off officially.

My accountant is a man of a certain age: I’ve never met him – my original accountant sold the business to him when he retired. I’ve never been to his office, as I now live across town. And we rarely speak on the phone – probably once a year. During the pandemic he started working from home, asking me to post my yearly accounts bundle to his home address. So, when last week a query went unanswered, I assumed he may have gone to the great accounting taxyard in the sky. PS his firm doesn’t tweet, LinkedIn or do any social media/advertising. My query was actually quite urgent because a client wants to start paying me PAYE after years of paying me as a sole trader (whereby I sort out my own tax). And this disadvantages me/ is annoying / is inexplicable.

Incidentally, when my accountant’s assistant picked up the phone and I asked if he had passed away, or was in fact still working, I heard him relay the message, and a sort of strangled guffaw/shocked mutter ensued. So I think they at least saw the joke.

My point is: I don’t expect instant reactions to my emails! But within 24 hours, I think companies should reply to their clients WHO PAY THEM MONEY with at least something like, “We’ll look into it, we’re manic at the moment, give us a few days”. Am I right?

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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