H&R Block Revives AOL Business Plan, Blankets Nation With Unwanted CDs

If you had a pulse and/or a mailbox in the ’90s, you received some AOL disks in the mail. They promoted a free trial, but everyone knows their real purpose: to have their labels peeled off and to be used for file storage. AOL eventually switched to read-only CDs, then switched to total irrelevance. But their familiar promotional tactic is back: adopted by tax preparers H&R Block to distribute their income tax software.

Or, as we prefer to call them: free cases for your homeless DVDs, even if you do use the software.

Sam has the most impressive collection that we’ve seen so far. He sent us this note with his photo:

Look at what I’ve been getting in the mail from H&R Block, for the last couple of months. Another one of these keeps arriving in the mail, every week or so.


To clarify — I didn’t order them. They’re just sending them out like old AOL CDs, and you pay once you install. Note the different price points on this collection. For some, the price includes federal and state filings. For others, the shown price is federal only and the state is extra (this is the case with the “free” one, only federal is free, the state is full price).

If I toss out the install CDs, these packages make very nice holders for some of my other, more important, CDs/DVDs. Thanks, H&R Block!

Other readers report receiving two different discs on the same day with different price points. Tracey writes, “Today the same thing happened – two copies of the software, one of them marked down. H&R Block apparently thinks I’m either dumber or richer than my partner, because the full-price one is always addressed to me.”

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