Tax Time, Marketing and H&R Block

H&R Block Storefront In the past, I have always done my own taxes. But with getting married, selling a condo, renting another and purchasing a home, we decided to visit our local H&R Block office to make sure our taxes were being done properly. What followed what a customer service and marketing nightmare.

Act 1: The girl with almost no confidence and a crappy warranty

We arrived at H&R at our scheduled appointment and had to wait for about 20 minutes so our representative could finish up with her previous clients. Once we sat down with her, she made a few jokes and suddenly revealed some stark insecurities. She proceeded to start putting all of our information into her computer. Along the way, she mentioned that she had recently had a customer complaint. That was reassuring to say the least. As she need the end of the process, she kept mentioning that something didn’t seem right. She then jumped on the phone to call a rep at another location (again, rather reassuring). When all was said and done, neither Cassie or I felt very good about what had happened. I think she could tell that we weren’t that happy, so she said she would have another representative look over our taxes in the morning.

But before our evening was over, she finished up with this – they don’t guarantee their work. You have to pay for a guarantee. If a plumber stopped at your home, fixed a pipe, said he wasn’t sure if the repair would work, and then offered to sell you a warranty, would you do business with him? If you buy a bad gallon of milk from a grocery store and they offered to sell you a freshness guarantee, would you continue to shop there? So here is H&R Block, offering to sell you a reassurance guarantee for an additional $30 to get them to back their service. I don’t get it at all.

Sure, from an evil marketing perspective, you have clients sitting there who do not want to have to go through the unsettling experience of being audited and you take advantage of that by trying to squeeze another $30 out of them. Why not switch it up and throw the guarantee in for free. That would get me and many others to talk about you in a positive way instead of a long rant like this.

Act 2: A phone call and the return visit

The next, we received a call from H&R asking us to return to their store and resign new forms. It appeared that their software wasn’t carrying over certain amounts. The result was a continued lack of confidence in H&R, more of our time being taken up, and a greatly reduced refund. I’m glad they looked things over; however, shouldn’t this have been done right the first time? Our rep was there and she pointed out that the software had indeed missed some amounts, but “weren’t we glad they caught the mistake before it was submitted?” Yeah, that’s nice. It’s kinda why we were paying you to do it in the first place.

Act 3: Another phone call

The papers were all signed and sent into the IRS. But two days later, we received another phone call. It was our H&R rep calling to let us know that we owed them $6 more for the additional paperwork that had to be printed up on the second visit. Huh? Wasn’t that your responsibility? It was the glitch in your software that necessitated the return visit – right? Why should we pay more?

Cassie called back and got the receptionist. After quickly explaining what had happened to us, the receptionist backed the additional $6 out of the system and apologized.

From a marketing perspective there were so many things that could have been improved:

  • Stick to your schedule
  • Hire people who exude confidence
  • Hire people that know what they are doing
  • Don’t use software that knowingly isn’t working correctly
  • Guarantee your services up front (it’s all about confidence)
  • Don’t try and charge us, the consumer, for your mistakes

I love talking about “wow” experiences. This wasn’t one. But if H&R wants our business next year, they will have to make some drastic improvements.

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4 thoughts on “Tax Time, Marketing and H&R Block

  1. There are a ton of things wrong here that I can’t dispute, but I can clear up one thing. The company does guarantee its work. If it makes an error, they will pay the interest and penalties that result. What it won’t do is pay any additional taxes because you owed that anyway. The product they were trying to sell you for $29 would pay up to $5,000 in taxes. Simply put, it taxes away any surprises. If you owed $4,000 in taxes because they didn’t enter a W-2, it is their mistake but you still owed the money so you have to pay. But if you but the product for $29, you wouldn’t have to worry about that either unless it was your fault – if you didn’t give them the W-2, then they didn’t make a mistake and it is your fault.

    1. Thanks so much for the reply and I appreciate the insight. This does clear things up, however, what you have to say is quite different from what we were told. I walked away from the experience feeling incredibly uneasy about the whole thing. The young woman we worked with made it sound as if we had to purchase the $30 plan if we wanted any assurance about the work that had been done. Maybe it was the overall experience that left me feeling this way.

      Anyway, I appreciate your comments and thanks for taking time to reply.

      1. I got that from your story and that is really sad. If you would be willing to share with me where that location was privately (sent to my e-mail), I’d love to know with the goal of getting better, not to get anyone into trouble. This isn’t typical but I also know that actions speak louder than words. I believe you were truthful in what you said and told it like it was. Can’t fault you for that.

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