H&R Block did not make a new statement on the Form 8863 snafu for three days until CEO Bill Cobb issued an apology late Friday, taking blame for the transmission issue which is delaying refunds for an estimated 600,000 clients.
(Read about Cobb’s statement.)
H&R has opted to communicate mainly one-on-one with angry and frustrated clients, many of them students waiting on delayed refunds and processed returns to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA.
Some face FAFSA deadlines. Most just need their refunds, which in part are the result of the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning tax credits tied to Form 8863, the source of delays — possibly as long as 6 weeks — in sending tax refunds to an estimated 600,000 H&R clients.
An issue with blank spaces where “No” answers are required seems to be the cause of transmittal problems with Form 8863 that surfaced about three weeks ago.
H&R said they prefer to communicate directly with these affected clients.
But many H&R customers say they are not getting clear answers as to when they will get a refund. Some say they have not been contacted at all. Some want the filing fees they paid H&R refunded. Some say they paid as much as $200 to have their federal income tax forms filled out and processed.
Posted one client on Facebook: “I’ve contacted your company numerous times. Where is my refund? How dare you put my family in a financial epidemic while having no courtesy of calling, mailing, or emailing me.”
The response from the H&R Block rep: “I know an apology isn’t good enough right now, but it is all I can offer you. We will update you as soon as we have more info.”
Customers have been expressing their anger on H&R’s Facebook page for days. Here’s a sampler of comments from today (each excerpt is from a different client):
“As far as I can tell H&R Block has yet to offer any assistance whatsoever to those who are suffering a serious hardship due to this issue which is their fault.”
“I mean come on. It was all over the news that the IRS was going to do a software change, but yet this company didn’t think to run a test run before hand?”
“I want the $30 back that I paid you guys to prepare my taxes. Been waiting a month and a half to get them back, and now it is affecting my financial aid, AKA, my future.”
“So they plan on updating us today, i hope this update includes information on how we can get a loan from you because my bills don’t accept ‘Sorry for the inconvenience’.”
Some H&R Block representatives are responding to the Facebook comments and questions. Most are apologetic and say that H&R is working around the clock to expedite refunds.
Here’s a statement from Gene King, manager of communications at H&R Block, published in the Kansas City Star.
“It’s important to note that as a one-to-one relationship business we’ve been having conversations with our clients impacted by this issue in our offices directly. We have assisted many clients directly in resolving the matter with the IRS. In addition, we have worked directly with the IRS on a solution that expedites the processing of these returns.
“We have reached out and will continue to reach out to our clients in many different channels.”