Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, continues to deal with the PR and customer relationship problem following the removal of certain features from the TurboTax Deluxe desktop product.
It issued an apology, offered a $25 refund to certain affected customers, but it’s standing firm on the feature changes. This means come next year you will still have to pay up for the Premier or Home & Business edition if you want those “advanced” schedules.
[Update on January 29, 2015: Only a week later Intuit caved in and said the removed features will go back into TurboTax Deluxe desktop product next year. This year everyone can get a free upgrade. See TurboTax Deluxe Desktop Features Restored, What About Online?]
Intuit is offering a $25 refund to those who bought TurboTax Deluxe 2013 CD or download but bought or upgraded to TurboTax Premier or TurboTax Home & Business 2014 CD or download. It set up a special page at https://turbotax.intuit.com/25back.
1. You must use the desktop product in both years. TurboTax Online already went through the same changes last year, without much of a protest. According to news reports 80% of users do it online.
2. You must e-file in both years. The refund request form requires your Social Security Number. That’s how they will verify that you indeed used TurboTax Deluxe 2013 CD or download but used TurboTax Premier or TurboTax Home & Business 2014 CD or download. If you printed and mailed your return, Intuit doesn’t know your Social Security Number — no $25 refund for you.
3. You must remember to request the $25 refund after you e-file. The news coverage comes in now. You feel good about being “made whole.” If you forget to request the $25 refund after you file your taxes in April, no $25 refund for you.
On the same special page that offers the $25 refund, Intuit also posted an apology letter from Sasan Goodarzi, General Manager for Intuit TurboTax. It read in part:
We messed up. We made a change this year to TurboTax desktop software and we didn’t do enough to communicate this change to you as proactively and broadly as we could or should have. I am very sorry for the anger and frustration we may have caused you.
Intuit has a long history of doing right by our customers, and in this instance, we did not live up to the standards of excellence you have come to expect from us. We did not handle this change in a manner that respected our loyal customers and we owe you an explanation of what we are doing to make it right.
But good intent must be matched with great execution, and that is where we let you down. We have heard from many of you that you were surprised when you discovered the change. No one likes this kind of a surprise, so we are taking immediate action to make things right and help you through this transition year.
It went on to explain the $25 refund offer. However, note the letter said nothing about reversing the feature changes. The apology is for inadequate communication, not for the product feature changes. The wording “this transition year” means come next year the changes will stick. The customers will have fully transitioned. There won’t be a surprise any more.
If you have been using TurboTax, knowing that the feature changes will stay, should you switch to a competing product such as H&R Block or TaxACT?
Only you can make that decision. TurboTax has always been a more expensive product. You decide whether familiarity and any better handling are worth the price premium. For instance TurboTax is able to import data from more places than H&R Block software — see Import W-2 and 1099 Forms Into TurboTax and H&R Block: From Where? Do you care about importing data versus typing?
Features and personal preference versus price. That’s just good ol’ competition. If you want the premium benefits you can’t blame them for charging a premium price. After all, if you make one mistake, it can cost you way more than the price difference.
I have been using H&R Block software in recent years. To me, H&R Block software represents the sweet spot between price and features. To another person, the premium price for TurboTax is well worth it. To a third person, TaxACT works just as well at an even lower price than either TurboTax or H&R Block software.
All three software solutions are still way less expensive than using a paid person. While you debate the small difference among different software, people who earn much less than you pay several times more for doing their simpler returns. That’s a big irony in this whole business. See File Your Taxes: Accountant, Software, Or Online?