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Companies House website sucks

A bit of background: Companies House is the UK government organisation responsible for maintaining and updating company information, their main functions are to:

  • incorporate and dissolve limited companies;
  • examine and store company information delivered under the Companies Act and related legislation; and
  • make this information available to the public.

Companies House are also the only website I have ever come across with opening hours – you can only use their online services between Monday to Sunday 07:00 – 12 Midnight UK Time.

The Issues

Frustrated PersonI’m about to go away for 2 weeks and wanted to get a company returned file, every year I have issues filing online as I use firefox on a Mac – surprisingly, this year was less painful than others.

There isn’t a huge amount of information to fill out as it is all pre-filled, but with an address change it’s 5 or 6 screens worth of information to check and one to update – takes about 5 minutes.

After finally finding all the relevent paperwork to actually log in to the system I filled out my return with no problems (this part of the system works pretty well – took 5 minutes).

My first issue came when submitting the completed return to Companies House – I got a blank screen. Several refreshes later still no luck, so I call Companies House. After several calls and being given different numbers I finally find somebody who can help me out (10 minutes). It turns out that when you fill out your contact details at the end of the process, if you put your email address AND your mobile number it won’t work – bizarrely it doesn’t tell you this.

At this point I can’t go back so I have to complete the return again (another 5 minutes). This time I know the trick to submit and get a reference (called an envelope code on their system), so I now get the privelege of having to pay £15 to send them the information. Great.

At this point I am shipped out to the diabolical NetBanx system to pay. After completing my card details I get an error saying the card details were wrong (they weren’t), so I clicked the link provided to update them. This took me to another error page saying my email address was invalid (it wasn’t, and it didn’t flag it up the first time either), so I click the link to go back and update the details as it tells me. This takes me back to the error page saying my card details were wrong (I haven’t had a chance to change them yet).

After a few clicks it’s another call to Companies House, the lady kindly tells me they don’t (and have never taken card payments by phone), I correct her and tell her I have had to do this several times before in previous years. I use one of the other numbers, get told the correct one, the lady kindly tells me she will get somebody to ring me back (another 10 minutes wasted).

About an hour later a very nice lady calls and takes my card details and the return is filed.

Total cost: £15 and over half an hour.

It was only due to me persistence that this got done, I don’t why it is so difficult.

Photo Credit: Zach Klein

One Comment

  1. [...] the issues” I said and he has. Here is most of the story entitled Companies House website sucks (slightly edited for brevity and my emphasis added): My first issue came when submitting the [...]

    UK Companies House: an end user nightmare | Irregular Enterprise | ZDNet.com / 17 Apr 2009 / 6:27 am