H&R Block Upsells Tax Service, But Won't Downgrade

Tax Cat here with a reminder about using a free service to prepare your taxes. Beware sneaky upsells on “free” tax preparation options for people with simple tax returns. We’ve already seen a Consumerist reader get charged for this unawares with TurboTax, and now reader Shane reports that If you miss an option on H&R Block’s form, you’ll be paying extra for access to your own data.

I was pleased to see that H&R Block was providing a free service this year for people whose tax situations were simple. I selected this option (noting that I would still have to pay a state filing fee), and sat down to prepare my taxes. At the first stage, they attempted to upsell me to the paid services (fair enough), and I said “no thank you” and continued on.

Here’s where it gets dicey. There was a screen offering to import last year’s tax information into my current return. I’ve done my taxes with H&R Block for several years (partially for that convenience), and so I clicked to do so. What I failed to notice, though (it’s not terribly well-designed), was that doing so upgraded my account to one of the paid versions. I’ll admit I could have read a bit more carefully, and that the mistake was mine. Once I realized the mistake, though, I tried to downgrade my account. Apparently there’s no way to do this, and even when I contacted customer service, I was told that my only option was to make a new account, whereby I’d lose several years of tax history (outside of my own records, of course).

All told, it’s only $30 and not the end of the world, but I’m really annoyed that they would slide that in (after I had already declined the upgrade) and provide *no* way to go back to the free version. Do I have any recourse here, other than trying other tax prep services?

You could try applying the tools in the The Ultimate Consumerist Guide To Fighting Back to H&R Block and see if they budge. However, if you already have your own paper and/or electronic copies of your historical tax information, you may be best served just taking your business to another tax prep service.

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