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Author: threej Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 461  
Subject: Customer POV Date: 3/20/2001 2:26 PM
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Although I think H&R Block is worth looking into (it's next on my list for DD), I have some concerns with the way it operates.

Some background: my wife is a secretary at one of the local branches and uncovered some disturbing things at the "grunt" level. A majority of the clients calling in to her office were not only upset about their returns, but were frequently hostile. As I can imagine, there is obviously some unpleasantness inherent with the tax season, however these people were most often upset with their returns from the PREVIOUS year. They would call just to tell off the HRB hawker who was trying to get repeat sales. They often felt that their preparer did next to nothing to fix their return and generally screwed their return up.

I do think that many of the people have had some sort of financial problems and that HRB was just the unfortunate recipient of bad clients, but I also had my taxes done through them this year (discount due to DW's employment). What I found was that the preparer was doing their best to not do any work on my return! She intentionally left out capital losses (I did an excessive number of trades (~14) last year, much to my chagrin), just so she wouldn't have to put them in again after she accidently deleted my file TWICE. This is not a new preparer, but one that has worked for HRB for a couple of years.

I was told that I was unable to do several deductions that I later looked up and was very able to do. I would blame this on the preparer directly, but apparently the whole office is that way (according to DW).

HRB offices "transmit" their returns to the main office (in our city) for QA checking. The preparers intentionally sent the file out with errors that they weren't willing to correct, just to let the QA department fix them. To me, this is a gross misuse of resources. Not only that, but DW has seen the preparers delete and lose several physical files - due to a lack of rigorous filing procedures.

Overall, the preparers seemed to be rather lazy and uninformed about actual tax procedures (or just unwilling to do the work). If the software they were using (ProFILE for the curious) did not do the work for them, they didn't even bother. The preparers ignored "small details" on my tax return, that in retrospect would have increased my taxable income and thus decreased their commissions. This is either from a lack of training or morals - I am not sure which.

In the end, I took my return BACK and have decided to do it again - paying my fair share of taxes due this year and getting all the lawful deductions that I know I am allowed to take. So, although I think Warren probably knows more than I do about why this company is a good investment, I have doubts about it's supporting personel. The management is either unaware or disregards the practices of their offices, even when they are against the long term goals of the corporation. I do not think that it is good practise to have your clients not feel they are getting the best tax return possible - as they say, good word of mouth will attract 3 clients, bad word of mouth will scare 10 away.

Anyway, it is still on my list for long term investments - I just might wait to hear something about integrated training for their staff.
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