I remember a hotel commercial from a few years back. The man staying at the hotel was complaining to the front desk clerk about his room. The clerk said, “I’m sorry sir.” The man kept complaining about various things that were wrong with the room (dirty, air doesn’t work, etc). The clerk kept apologizing until finally the man said, “You keep saying ‘I’m sorry’, but aren’t you going to do anything about it?” “No,” the clerk said. “I’m only authorized to apologize.” The customer said, “That’s ridiculous.” And the clerk said, “I’m sorry sir.”
That is how I feel about H&R Block, and that is why I will not be using their tax service from now on. Am I dropping H&R block because they made a mistake? No. Everybody makes mistakes. The reason I am dropping H&R Block is due to their reaction to their mistake.
They have acknowledged (when I called them on the phone, on their Facebook page AND in an email I received) that they messed up. They have stated they realize this is going to be a hardship for people. They are working to fix the problem and get us our money as soon as possible from the IRS.
Well I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. They should be doing one of two things, or possibly both. First of all, they should be refunding the fees of everybody affected by this. I’m not talking about the IRS filing fees, I’m talking about the money we paid to H&R Block for their program, for the service of filing. In my case that was only $30 which I paid for the computer program. Some people paid a couple hundred dollars.
When you are paid to provide a service, and you fail to provide that service, you should give the money back. If I paid my neighbor in advance to mow my lawn, and he didn’t mow my lawn, I would expect to get my money back.
Secondly, they should advance the entire refund as a “loan” for every person who is affected by this, up to some limit (say, $5000). That way people wouldn’t be in trouble with their bill collectors, mortgage companies, or whoever else they were going to pay with their tax refund. Then, when the refunds finally show up, the customers could give that money back to H&R Block. H&R Block does these kinds of “advances” all the time (and they charge for it). The system is in place for doing this, they are just choosing not to use it.
If H&R Block had done either or both of these things when they found out about this problem, they would have made customers for life. They would have turned a mistake into a public relations gold mine. People would have said, “You know, they did mess up, but they don’t do that very often, and when they did, they made it right.”
But they didn’t. And they haven’t.
So next year I will probably make the switch to TurboTax. I believe H&R Block has yet to see the long-term effect of their failure to respond, because all of those affected by this won’t be in the market for a tax service until next year. I predict that H&R Block is going to be worse off next year than they are right now. And it’s all because they were just sorry.