H&R Block reneges on promise, cops-out on client

H&R Block reneges on promise

When a giant corporation closes its shutters and bolts its doors against its own client, its like a reverse prison. I, the client, feel like a tiny, pesky ant searching for a chink in the fortress wall so I can shout in my small voice: “hear me, and respond without boilerplate.” I’m almost deafened by the fortress’s PA system which occasionally blares “NO. JUST NO.”

The fortress does not spend time formulating thoughtful replies or building strong arguments. Those mundane activities are not necessary for fortresses, which have shutters, boltable doors, huge legal departments, and very large boots for squashing pesky ants.

All this over $725.

Come to think of it, $725 is exactly the average fee I’ve paid H&R Block for tax preparation each year for the past ten years. (I don’t have handy our prior twenty years’ fees.)

H&R Block is using bully tactics. Its M.O. is to stand impenetrable and unresponsive while its clients exhaust themselves arguing H&R Block’s arbitrary defenses.

Apologies. I have not allowed this blog to become a platform for personal complaints. But wait a minute. The theme of Thiefhunters in Paradise is thieves, thugs, and gangsters… So this report fits.

H&R Block reneges on promise

I may be old-fashioned but to me, a promise is a promise; and a promise-to-pay reneged is equivalent to stealing.

When we hire H&R Block for each year’s tax preparation, the company presents its Client Service Agreement, which says:

H&R Block Guarantee. When we prepare your return, we stand behind our services with the H&R Block guarantee. We will pay penalties and interest on federal, state and local returns which are assessed due to an H&R Block error. In addition, if the IRS audits you, we will assist you in the audit process.

Its “Peace of Mind™ Extended Service Plan (POM)” is included and defined in the Client Service Agreement. This guarantee “covers additional taxes that could be assessed (up to $5,000) because of our error and audit representation if your return is audited by a taxing authority.”

H&R Block guided us through an audit of two tax years and represented us at the examination. The IRS representative was reasonable, impressed with my mountain of supporting documents, and found in our favor on all questioned items except two deductions, which resulted in a relatively small amount of tax due.

Those deduction had been sanctified, indeed suggested, by H&R Block some years back. Small and insignificant compared to the other huge issues the IRS questioned, we were happy to give up the two deductions. We considered the audit outcome a success.

H&R Block instructed us to pay the additional taxes assessed to the IRS. Our Block representative would “submit the paperwork” for our reimbursement. That was November 22, 2010—the day H&R Block bolted its doors and shut its ears to us.

Ignorant me! I politely waited for reimbursement! What an idiot, to think that additional taxes assessed because of an H&R Block error would be covered. To naively believe that a promise is a promise, a guarantee guaranteed…

On December 14, 2010, I phoned my local HRB office and got my first run-around. After four pass-the-buck transfers, we were promised a call back. It never came.

On January 7, 2011, “Rose” at the H&R Block main customer service number, could not or would not provide me with the name of a person in the “Peace of Mind” department. I began writing a letter but, before I sent it, I finally heard from the company.

Enclosed with its letter dated January 18, H&R Block proffered a settlement check in the amount of $47. Here, take this, now shut up and go away. And it listed three random, easily refutable “reasons for denial” of the reimbursement it owed. Have a look at H&R Block’s pathetic “reasons” here.

On February 1, I replied politely, returned the HRB go-away check, and suppressed my laughter at the company’s gall (but not my indignation). No response from H&R Block.

On April 21, I re-sent my February 1 letter (with an appended postscript) by registered mail to both the local H&R Block office and its headquarters. No response from H&R Block. Is this proper business communication? Is this the way to treat a client of 30 years, just because a bit of business didn’t go your way? I’m appalled.

On June 23, I filed a Better Business Bureau complaint, which proved to be an exercise in futility. However, it did provoke a perky reply from a member of H&R Block’s “Executive Escalations Team.” Hey, call me! But not until after the Fourth of July weekend… Hmmm, why is HRB finally interested in talking?

I responded, via the BBB, that “Everything I have to say is in those letters [of Feb. 1 and April 21]. Please read them. Then, I will be satisfied by your paying exactly $725.”

This is where H&R Block begins repeating its original groundless and arbitrary “reasons for denial,” as if I hadn’t bothered to carefully explain the facts of each. As if the company hadn’t heard. As if it didn’t matter what I said.

All this over $725, H&R Block is playing a desperate game of force and power, attempting to wear down its own client by ignoring letters, then providing weak and specious arguments. Its behavior is truly contemptible.

H&R Block has not given any substantial reason for reneging on its promise. Instead, its representatives continuously attempt to obfuscate and distract with irrelevant or moot statements. For example, its non-responsive “response” to my counterpoints claimed “we regret that the client appears dissatisfied with her experience at H&R Block”. First, Block’s “regrets” are immaterial. Second, as clients of H&R Block, we never claimed to be dissatisfied with our experience at Block. We simply want to be reimbursed for additional taxes paid due to H&R Block’s erroneous tax advice, as HRB promised from the outset, in writing, signed.

I have fully addressed and refuted each of HRB’s three specious defenses. (Does anyone require the definition of “specious”? It means superficially plausible, but actually wrong and misleading.)

In response to my elucidation, H&R Block replied by simply repeating its original three vague and insubstantial reasons, without support and without acknowledging my reply.

H&R Block is using bully tactics. Its M.O. is to stand impenetrable and unresponsive while its clients exhaust themselves arguing H&R Block’s random defenses. It’s an ugly attempt to avoid paying the piddling $725 it rightfully owes its client (of almost 30 years). In my opinion, H&R Block’s failure to pay its obligation is the equivalent of stealing.

Lastly, I must say that I resent the time I’ve had to spend on this, including the writing of this blog post, the purpose of which is to publicly document the duplicitous and unscrupulous practices of H&R Block. These valuable hours have been stolen from me.

© Copyright 2008-2011 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.


  • Leper says:

    You might want to consider submitting your story to the consumerist blog (consumerist.com) to get some ideas on how to convince H&R Block to follow their own terms and conditions.

  • Thanks Leper. I will do that.

  • Ed says:

    You don’t really give any info on what deductions the IRS ultimately denied. Can you provide details on them?

  • Marilynne Napala says:

    We have been paying for peace of mind for several years -since we have been doing taxes with H and R Block. The gentleman who does our taxes now seems to know what he is doing. The problem was a past agent who misinformed us re: mileage deductions. We were represented by H and R Block in the audit. Our new agent told us we would hear from them shortly regarding a check from H and R Block..
    We have received a 3000 dollar tax bill from the IRS that is due immediately. We have heard nothing in the past 3 months. We are not getting any information in response to our calls. Just that our request is being processed. I am sorry to hear about the outcomes others have experienced. I realized now that it will require a huge effort to get results or even an answer.

  • Marilynne, this does seem to be a pattern with H&R Block. Don’t let them get away with it! Keep writing them, and post your situation to consumer blogs. A big company like HRB should not get away with deadbeat tactics, but that’s exactly what they try. They seem to think we’ll get tired of requesting the money they owe, give up, forget, and go away. That strategy must be working for them, or they wouldn’t risk their reputation. Although H&R Block hasn’t paid me everything it owes me, I’ve made some progress. Make them hear you!

  • Marilynne Napala says:

    Amazing! Within a few weeks after posting this, I received a check for the full amount! It felt like cause and effect.???

  • I’m so glad this helped others like you, Marilynne. But should we have to go through all this to get what we’re promised? I hope I never again have to do business with H&R Block. That company’s behavior is the same as thievery. Hey, thanks for letting me know of your success.

  • Rick Mercer says:

    Why not sue them in small claims court?

  • After a year, they paid up, or I would have.

  • MockingJay says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I was about to purchase the ‘peace of mind’ protection from H&R Block in their online approval form for my tax preparation that I did remotely with my tax guy over the phone. Just as I was about to submit my answer ‘yes’ to accept the protection, I decided to do a quick ‘google’ search of the term: ‘Is the H&R Block ‘peace of mind’ plan a scam?’ …your website was one of 229,000 results! LMAO! SO MANY complaints and horror stories, I decided to ‘decline’ the plan, save $35, and hope for the best as I’ve already gone through the process of filing with H&R Block and it’s too late to change that part but I thought better of purchasing the plan. The part that bothered me was that it said something about being committed to a ‘binding arbitration’ if they represent me under the plan should there be any problems… that was the part that didn’t sit well with me and what caused my need to do a search in the first place. Anyway, glad I did some basic research! Good luck to all of those who have been screwed over by both H&R Block and the lovely Federal Reserve aka: IRS. Also, much THANKS! to the author of this article! Thanks for taking the time!! It IS after all, our greatest commodity and it’s simply NOT COOL when people [ie: corporations, useless feeders, parasites] eat into our precious ‘time pies’ with their corruptive business practices and moral-less operations.

  • You’re very welcome, MockingJay. Glad my article made a difference. I think the worst part of the whole experience was how they brushed me off and ignored me, sometimes giving me idiotic boilerplate garbage. H&R Block is one horrible company, and I hope their spider searches find my comment (and yours, above).

  • DSA says:

    My roommate works for H&R block and has been trying to get me to file through them. I’m glad I found your blog. I’m going to share this with her and see what she says.

  • Jennifer says:

    Do you have the number for their escalation dept?? I cant find it and cant get Answers!

  • Sorry Jennifer, I don’t. I never managed to get through and all that my communications garnered were boilerplate nonsense non-replies. Post about your problem on one of the consumer problem websites. Good luck!

  • K.Eady says:

    i had my taxes prepared by h&r block on 1/24/13. after a few weeks of waiitng i emailed in on 2/6/13 to check the status at on 2/7/13 iw was told that my taxes would be held for processing until the end of february. so i waited i started to read articles online about the clients who had 8863 education credits having problems with theirs due to certain lines being incomplete when tansmitted to the irs from h&r block. so on 2/24/13 i called the irs and was told indeed there was a problem with my return. so i emailed h&r again. i had previously called and emailed in after reading the articles but was assured there was no problem.

    well on 2/24/13 i went into the office and spoke with my tax perparer and the office manager and after speaking to them both and the irs via phone i was told that i would be placed in the file catergory and wouldnt be charged the preperation fees by melissa caraballo the office mgr.christine tyriver was there and agreed with the office mgr about me not being charged $274.99 well i was. i was a part of the 600,000 people whoes taxes were incorrectly processed and held up for several weeks past the date originally told.

    i brought this to the district manger’s alberto ortiz attention he would not honor it.

  • Thanks for reporting, K.Eady. Based on my experience, H&R Block is an unethical company that does not honor its promises. I’d suggest you find a consumer affairs website and report your experience there. That’s what helped me.

  • tara says:

    I am so irritated myself. H&R Block double charged me twice on my tax refund in the amount of $329.75. In may they reminded me that they were not responsible for a delayed return. So I payed it prior to my direct deposit, in May, in which I was charged an additional time in July. It is now almost the end of September and I have been promised numerous callbacks, lol….. by far this has been the worst experience of customer service I have had. They ended up mailing the check to the address on my return which is my old address. So, I have been calling them once a week for the past month to have them send my check to the correct address or back into the account they originally took the money out of. Someone closed my case and said I already received my refund in July. So I opened a new case AGAIN, which was probably my fifth one at this point; and was unable to go higher than the person taking my message. I finally received the number for the escalation department. I missed their call, and when I called back they changed the person in charge of my case. I have called her twice but she has yet to call me back. If they cannot call people back in the time frame allotted they should not make the promise to. I am going to put in a complaint, I am over it.

  • tara says:

    Me again, on top of all this when I was explaining that I was double charged, I had to do all the foot work. I explained why do I have to mail you my bank records? It came out of my account twice from H&R BLOCK???? It is the same account. I even got an email and I can give you the confirmation number you gave me in May, since they already could see they charged me the $329.75 in July. That was not sufficient enough for them???? Ok then why send a confirmation number at all for the transaction though them, UNBELIEVABLE….. finally I talked them into letting me fax my statement so I faxed my bank statement; and then I received an email that a service fee of $34.95 was taken out of my account. So I called them in a panic asking why they did that and where is my $329.75 back. They created another case…… Ok really do I work for H&R Block or do they work for the customer……I am over it…..Just put it back into the same account how hard is that….

  • Bobbi-Jo says:

    I also purchased “Peace of Mind Protection” and it was a big waste of my hard earned money because they did not honor it for me either. The prepare was given complete and accurate information but two years later I get a letter from the IRS stating that I owed them over $2,000.00. When I took it back to H&R Block they said they would take care of it. A few months later I received another letter from the IRS with a smaller amount but still over $1,000.00, so I went back to H&R Block again and was told it would be taken care of by them because I had purchased the “Peace of Mind Insurance” and that the error was their fault. Well, yesterday I got a letter from H&R Block stating that my claim was denied due to insufficient information that I provided. I am so upset right now and I am going to fight these people tooth and nail. I paid for Peace of Mind but I sure do not have it. Don’t let H&R Block sucker you into this scheme of theirs. I am really in a bad place now because of them. Interest and fees. I don’t know what I am going to do.

  • I hope you do fight tooth and nail, Bobbi-Jo. H&R Block policy seems to be “ignore them and they will go away.” Which equates to “ignore them and we won’t have to pay.” If you are certain you are in the right, don’t give up! This large company should not get away with a practice based on stepping on the consumer. So calm down, clear your head, and go forward. In the end, you might want to notify a consumer complaint blog. Good luck!

  • Deb F says:

    HR Block hasn’t improved service but has apparently upped their game. We had our 2013 taxes prepared at a Houston TX location because we had a number of life changes in 2013 (new jobs, new state, new house, etc, several W2’s, a 1099, a 1099R…) They weren’t complicated but we wanted to make sure they were right. This was early April 2014.

    Our tax preparer was a hot mess. We left our documents with her to review and prepare a return. Three appointments. Each time she told us she had made a ‘miscalculation’ and the figures she had given us the previous appointment had changed. She had injured her arm between appointment #1 and appointment #2 and discussed the delays being caused by her exhaustion from multiple jobs, pain meds and the pressures of tax season. Her desk was covered in client folders and she had difficulty finding ours. Appointment #3 was at 8 pm- we finally completed the return and it was close to midnight (really) when she offered us Peace of Mind Insurance. We bought it because the process had been so strange and we had little confidence that she had accurately completed the return. My husband and I both questioned her obvious errors-transposed numbers and incorrect names, during the preparation and she reassured us by repeating that she was “the sharpest pencil in the box”. I went into the office the following day and conveyed my concerns to the office manager informing her that we had purchased the Peace of Mind under duress because we lacked faith in the preparer. I was reassured that my preparer was one of their best-not to worry. We received an IRS refund of $2744 a few weeks later.

    Fast forward to March 2015. We receive a letter from the IRS stating a 1099 was not included in our return and we owed taxes $2749. We checked the file given back to us by our tax preparer and the 1099 was not with the remainder of our documents, nor did it seem to be accounted for on the return (another one of those miscalculations Agent #1 kept incurring). We were certain that the preparer had it because we had lengthy conversations regarding deductions applicable to those earnings. We contacted the HR Block Office within hours of receiving the letter. They couldn’t set an appointment because it was the height of tax season and their ‘clients come first’. It turns out that if they already have your money you are no longer considered a client. The office manager said she would review our return and get back to us the following Monday. We never heard from her again and after finally getting through to a District Manager we were told she is no longer with them. They also could not find our file and would have to search ‘Stone Mountain’ (I have no idea what this is-isn’t Stone Mountain a handbag?) which would take several weeks. She asked if we could drop off our copy of the file. I explained we were not willing to leave our documents with an HR Block agent in light of what had happened but would happily sit with an agent while he/she reviewed/copied them.

    We were finally placed with another agent and instructed to request an extension from the IRS because the 30 day window they gave us had almost elapsed. Long story short, the new agent reviewed the return and found the 1099 had most likely been in the possession of the first agent because she had made notes on our documents and included deductions based on the figures from the 1099-the $2749 tax payment should be covered under the Peace of Mind. In addition, he found errors she had made in calculating deductions that would cause us to incur more taxes due the IRS-approximately $800. He informed us these were the errors of the previous agent and would be covered by the Peace of Mind Insurance. We would just have to wait 4-6 weeks (guaranteed) for a check from HR Block. That and the fact that we would receive a 1099 in 2015 from HR Block because the claim amount is considered income. We mailed the amended return along with a check for $100 (to show good faith as advised by the agent) to the IRS. We could pay the balance with the claim check in 4-6 weeks. The Peace of Mind Claim for $3758 was submitted on 5/15/2015. No one wants to talk about the fact that Agent #1 misplaced our original 1099 which is free floating God knows where (possibly stapled to one of those many client folders on her desk or maybe in a Stone Mountain handbag, I don’t know…) exposing us to identity fraud.

    It is now beyond the 6 weeks. No communication from HR Block. I began calling Customer Service to inquire about the status 2 weeks ago (4 week mark) since we have received a certified letter from the IRS demanding payment. I have been given several versions of claim status along with reassurances that someone from their escalation department will contact me within 24 hours (which was more than 336 hours ago, just sayin‘). The latest version -as of 6/26/2015-is that the claim is on hold pending copies of amended state and local returns. My status will remain pending until I produce these. I explained I cannot produce those documents as they do not and cannot exist (a 2013 NY return was filed, there are no local taxes in either my NY or TX locations and TX has no state income tax). I would have thought HR Block would be aware of the fact that some states (and cities) in the US have no income tax, but apparently they are not. I suspect my first tax preparer is now working in their claims department. She may still be on pain meds. I know I wish I was.

    -IF the first HR Block agent had prepared my return correctly, I would not have gotten a $2744 return but would have only owed the IRS $5.
    -IF the second HR Block agent had not advised us that “the deductions are questionable but I would err on the side of caution, since the IRS is already looking at you and Peace of Mind will pay for those errors”, I would not likely have incurred an additional $800 tax liability.
    -IF Peace of Mind Insurance (can they sell insurance-are they licensed to do that?) had been anything more than a scam I might actually have peace of mind right now instead of a huge tax bill, interest and penalties, along with (this is my favorite part…wait for it…) having to pay the IRS $120 for the privilege of taking this tax bill out in installments-which is what I now need to do.

    This was the first (and last) time I have used an HR Block Tax Preparer. I rank it as one of the biggest mistakes of my life, and please believe me when I tell you, I have made some real humdingers over the years. Two things are clear to me: (1) I will have to pay the IRS, this is not negotiable and (2) There was never any intent on the part of HR Block to pay the Peace of Mind claim.

    I am considering having an actual CPA review that return because I have my doubts still. I am considering taking them to small claims court for breach of contract (fraud has crossed my mind too, but that’s a different court). I am considering contacting the state insurance commission. The IRS Office of Professional Responsibility may get a heads up on Agent #1 and Agent #2 as well. In fact, each month that I write a check to the IRS, I will follow it up with an odious action directed at HR Block. Years ago, a very wise woman told me, “You can’t fight City Hall, but you CAN poop on their steps on your way out”.

  • Horrible experience, Deb! I can’t believe H&R Block is still pulling its “Peace of Mind” insurance scam. Stay on them—don’t give up! I do love your wise woman’s quote: “You can’t fight City Hall, but you CAN poop on their steps on your way out.” Excellent!

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