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Tommy Boy’s Wisdom on the Guarantees of H&R Block, TurboTax, and Similar Services

By January 26, 2015Taxes

One of Chris Farley’s many classics is the movie Tommy Boy.  In the movie, Tommy is out trying to save the company by getting sales. In a conversation with a Ted, a potential customer, Tommy gives us some legitimately profound insight on how guarantees work.   (If you want to see the full clip check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEB7WbTTlu4)

The dialog goes:

Ted Nelson, Customer: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?

Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of *crap. That’s all it is, isn’t it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.

These franchise tax companies and tax filing software companies are involved with a ton of tax returns.  I think there are two reasons for this.  1) they have a huge marketing budget so most people see these advertisements 30+ times during a tax season, and 2) American’s for the most part are trusting people.  So if the advertisement says something, they don’t have any reason to believe that they aren’t always getting the full story.    Which is exactly the case when it comes to these H&R Block, Liberty Tax, Jackson Hewitt, TurboTax, TaxCut, TaxSlayer type of services.  The marketing tells you that you can file a tax return for a low price, like $9.99.  But the fine print says only if it’s a 1040EZ.  Their commercials don’t come out and directly tell that to you.

We believe that having a good relationship with our customers is the cornerstone of our business.

This deceptive type of advertising that is used by these larger companies’ starts a new relationship off on the wrong foot.  “Hey thanks for selecting us based on a low price you think you are going to get but only a small percentage of filers actually qualify for.”

Picking a service solely on price is never a good idea.

When you deceive people from the beginning, it isn’t surprising that a lot of them will have a bad experience.  (I know there are plenty of people who probably have good experiences with these companies.  The truth is those same people would have had a good experience with more qualified tax professionals and probably pay less in taxes.  They just don’t know what they don’t know.)  Because of the initial premeditated deception, all these companies have guarantees.  The Maximum refund guarantee, the 100% accurate calculations guarantee, the peace of mind guarantee, the audit support guarantee, the satisfaction guarantee, the gold guarantee, to name a few.  Here are a few links to these. https://turbotax.intuit.com/corp/guarantees.jsp, https://www.hrblock.com/popups/accurate_calculations_guarantee_online.htmlhttps://www.hrblock.com/taxes/doing_my_taxes/products/popup/pom_terms.htmlhttps://www.jacksonhewitt.com/Do-your-Taxes-In-Office/The-Gold-Guarantee%C2%AE/

Here are some links to people complaining about their experience with these guarantees. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/computers/intuit_turbotax.html,  http://www.topix.com/forum/com/hrb/TUG3NGPLOD07PINAE

 All the guarantees have fine print and limits on what the companies will cover.  Just because a company gives you a guarantee doesn’t mean their service is better.  And if you have to pay for the guarantee, (like some that are offered from the previously mentioned companies), it’s not really a guarantee but an insurance policy.  And they are only selling it because they know they can make a profit on that product.

We don’t have multiple guarantee contracts with fine print.  We are in business to help our clients keep and grow their wealth.  So if we make a mistake (we aren’t perfect so we do make mistakes), we work with the client on resolving the issue.  If our mistake cost them money, we reimburse them.  If it means more work on our part, we don’t bill them.  We just use common sense and simply ask the customer, “what can we do to make this right?” 

The only things we can guarantee is that we are better today than we were six months ago and that in six months we will be better than we are now.

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