Nothing’s Certain Except for Death and Obfuscated Customer Service

Kareem sends a story from his buddy who had trouble getting the promised free e-file from H&R Block that we reported on Feb 3.

Jon followed the free efile link from here on irs.gov to this H&R Block page. Notice the word ‘free’ appearing four times.

After following the instructions, Jon was charged $19.95.

He connected to an ineffectual H&R chat bot who tried to blur the issue. Jon wasn’t having any of that and forced a secret number out of them: call 1-888-4TAXCUT to get the discount code necessary to complete the free efile, a discount code that is not disclosed anywhere else.

The aforementioned coffee klatch, after the jump.

Welcome to H&R Block online technical support. Please wait while we find a technical support agent to assist you.

Feel free to minimize this window. When an agent is available the window will pop to the forefront.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You have been connected to Raziel C.

Raziel C: Hello Jon, welcome to H & R Block’s Live Technical Support Chat! How can we assist you today?
Jon: hi
Jon: i clicked the start now button from this page
Jon: http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/partner/index.jsp?otpPartnerId=180
Jon: and i am under 50 and have an AGI of less than 50k
Jon: but i am still being charged for a federal return
Jon: can you please fix that?
Jon: thanks.
Raziel C: Let me help you with that.
Jon: thanks.
Jon: please don’t send me any canned answers.
Raziel C: May I ask if you already e-filed your return?
Jon: i want to talk to a human being, not an FAQ.
Jon: not yet
Jon: i don’t want to be charged $19.99 for it
Raziel C: Okay. One moment please.
Jon: thanks
Raziel C: Thank you for waiting.
Jon: no problem.
Raziel C: Jon, since you haven’t e-file your return and for you to file your return using the Free File option, please create an account by going to http://www.hrblock.com/goto/ffa. Select TaxCut Online Premium to do your federal return for free. If you select to receive your refund via the H&R Block Refund Visa
Prepaid Card, you will also get your state return for free.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Thank you for choosing H&R Block.
Jon: right
Jon: that’s what i did.
Jon: so, please help. thanks.
Jon: also
Jon: i don’t *have* to go to the URL you provided
Jon: the URL i provided to you is enough.
Jon: http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/partner/index.jsp?otpPartnerId=180
Jon: or rather, also works.
Jon: in theory.
Raziel C: Jon, you need to create new account on the site http://www.hrblock.com/goto/ffa for you to e-file for free.
Jon: NO I DON’T
Jon: READ THE URL THAT I AM PROVIDING YOU
Jon: Here-
Jon: http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/partner/index.jsp?otpPartnerId=180
Jon: I DON’T NEED TO CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT.
Jon: READ THE PAGE.
Jon: PLEASE HELP!!!!
Jon: Hello?
Raziel C: Jon, you created your account to the partners site only not to the FFA site. Partners site only offers discount not the free e-file.
Jon: that’s not correct
Jon: the partners site says
Jon: FREE TAXCUT Online Premium
Jon: hello?
Jon: in fact, the promotion uses Free four times in the text.
Jon: 1. “Qualified Taxpayers: File your taxes today for FREE”
Jon: 2. “FREE Taxcut Online Premium”
Jon: 3. “START NOW FOR FREE”
Jon: 4. “Start today and do your federal taxes for free!”
Jon: hello?
Jon: are you still there?
Raziel C: Yes. I apologize for the inconvenience, Jon.
Jon: unfortunately, i don’t need an apology, raziel. i need the problem to be fixed.
Raziel C: Inasmuch as I want to help you with that, the problem is beyond my scope of support. Please call 1-888-4TAXCUT regarding your concern. Thank you.
Jon: thanks.
Raziel C: You’re welcome!
Raziel C: Is there anything else we can assist you with today?

Jon: no.
Jon: thanks for your help.

Previously: Consumers Speak: H&R Block’s Free Offer, Only $5.95

Comments

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  1. Ben Popken says:

    Jonathan writes:

    just caught your story on HR Block’s free efile program. This was somewhat odd since about two minutes before I’d just finished completed using exactly that service to file my federal tax return. I had no problems and no charges at the end of the process.

    I suspect that the issue was he selected the option to e-file his state tax return, which isn’t claimed to be free anywhere on the site and is listed as costing $19.95. While is cheap, it’s just standard upselling and they do make the process fairly easy so long as you read what’s on the screen. I think almost every free e-filer does something similiar.

    I suppose the worst bit is that the upselling of that (and a tax professionals signature for 80 bucks or something) was just filtered out by me without any thought. They’re starting to get us used to the horrible tactics.

  2. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    “Raziel” appears to have had better English training than the H&R Block chat tech I dealt with last tax season. My SO and I sat there struggling to puzzle out what was being said, to no avail.

    If you’re going to send your customer service *anywhere,* I don’t care if it’s India or Vancouver or Oklahoma City, at least *try* to give your struggling employees some basic support in the English language– and yes, that includes American call-center workers. My six months in call center in CA made me fear for the educational system *everywhere.*

    Also, it might be just me, but I’d rather call the poor chat tech “Bharat” or “Jim-Bob” or whatever rather than have him use a whiter-sounding name to make me “more comfortable with the experience.” I’m already insulted enough that the corporation doesn’t want to pay workers what they’re worth and doesn’t think I need to comprehend the assistance being provided. Why rub it in?

  3. kareem says:

    Jonathan- the problem was that my buddy Jon had created an account last year, and the “offer” apparently applied to ppl who created new accounts only (without clearly stating this anywhere).

    He was, in fact, being charged $19.99 for the federal return, and $24.99 for the state.

    Kareem