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.