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We give Intuit Canada (makers of the QuickTax software we used to do our taxes this year) a thumbs up for standing behind their web site errors. Read about our taxation frustration
Kudos to Intuit Canada for exceeding our customer service expectations when we questioned them about pricing and licensing contradictions regarding their 2006 QuickTaxWeb software.
Filing taxes isn't in most people's list of 'fun things to do'. Ours either. In Canada, taxes are due at the end of April and like most people, we procrastinate. We finally caved in and spent the better part of the afternoon, yesterday, muddling through our complicated Canadian taxes (foreign income, household moving expenses, capital gains, tuition, child care credits, sole-proprietorship ... yuck)! When did our lives become so complicated? (Answer: When we each married a foreigner!)
This year, we used the online version of the popular QuickTax software, thinking that it was less expensive than a boxed version. Imagine our surprise and frustration when it came time to print our final tax forms and the bill was more than double what we were expecting!
Find out why reading the license agreement is a good thing or (how being anal saved us money) ...
Down the Garden Path
We were in a quandary about how to do our taxes this year. Rachel hates the software interview process, not sure if a certain situation is applicable or not (not to mention the $40 expense). I hate the paper version because I never have all the correct forms and I'm soon buried in a pile of paper.
Rachel set on down the paper path, but after an afternoon of sifting through forms, realized that our complex life situation meant a sea of obtuse forms. So, in a near argument, we decided to have a look to see if a down-loadable copy of QuickTax was any less expensive than a store-bought version.
I typed "QuickTax Intuit" into Google and headed to Intuit's QuickTax Page. There, I noticed that there was a "do-it-online" version and thought it might be less expensive, so I clicked on the "Help Me Choose" button, where I saw that the Online version was only $19.99 - half that of a box version. (This makes sense ... it's cheap for Intuit to provide. There are no CDs to manufacture, packaging costs, store commissions, transportation charges, etc.)
Yay! A near argument was averted by a less expensive way of filing our Canadian taxes!
So, we said, "Let's do it!" and I (the web developer who has been using a computer forever and is the fastest clicker in the west) had already clicked through to the "get started page" page, where I answer "No, I've never used QuickTaxWeb before".
"WAIT!" exclaims Rachel, "Is that the price for two returns, or one?"
"Dunno," I say. I've now got a link to the "license agreement" on the page. (Surely the answer will be in there!) We read the "QuickTaxWeb License and Services Agreement", and under "License Grant" in first section, we find:
Intuit grants you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use the Services solely to prepare (i) single personal tax returns or (ii) personal tax returns for an individual and that individual's spouse. (emphasis mine)
Well, there we go! For $19.99, we'll get both of our returns done, which is half of the price for a boxed version at the store.
We spend the afternoon muddling through our taxes and then go to pay and print off the a version to review. I was "tad" surprised to see the final bill amount - $52.98!!
"What the heck!?"
I run down the stairs to inform Rachel, whom I know will NOT be pleased. (I've already made up my mind that this is an outrage and I'm going to fight for this, but I'm secretly hoping that Rachel might answer the clarion call and do it instead. I hate conflict! )
As predicted, Rachel is furious and willing to call Intuit Canada for an explanation.
Of course, it's a toll call. (Meanwhile, I tend to the Oop, out of earshot of the conversation, hoping that Rachel will come back with positive news.)
About ten minutes later, Rachel comes down the stairs. She's still on the phone. She explains that they're willing to let us buy the down-loadable version for $39.99, pay the $52.98 for the online version, so we can extract our data and then rebate us $52.98.
"What?" I say, "No way!"
Rachel hands me the phone and I start the conversation anew.
"What's with the $19.99?" I ask the Intuit representative, whose name is Peeyush. (I swear, Canadians have the strangest names I've ever heard of and it seems that every customer service representative in Canada speaks English only as a second - or third - language).
"Well, sir," Peeyush explains, in a difficult-to-understand East Indian accent, "The price went up on April 15th. If you go to this web address, you'll clearly see that it's now $24.99 per tax return."
"That's great!" I say, "But the page I saw says $19.99 and as a result, that's what I'm willing to pay. What about the license agreement?"
"I don't know about that, Sir, but it's clearly stated on the website that each return is $24.99. (long pause) I'm sorry, but there isn't anything I can do."
I'm not willing to let it go, so I ask to speak with a supervisor (none are available and one will call me back, tomorrow). Painfully, I provide Peeyoush with our contact information, but have to use words for each letter, which takes some time.
"What's your email address?" he asks.
I tell him, then spell it out, letter-for-letter, "'S' as in 'Sam', 'K' as in 'Kangaroo', 'i' as in **trys to think of a word that starts with 'i'** ... 'India'" (Not exactly politically correct, but what the hey!)
It's okay. He gets me back, he has to issue a customer number and needs all the contact information again, so I'm paying to provide redundant information. Grrr.
The next day, I receive a call from someone asking to speak with Rachel. It turns out to be a woman from Intuit Canada named Nadia. I explain the whole situation and she quickly concedes to the $19.99 advertised price, but expects a payment for each return.
"Why," I ask, "when license agreement clearly states that a license covers an individual and their spouse?"
"Well, I'll have to call you back, because I'll need to look this over and confer with the legal department."
"Please do," I say, and "I look forward to your call."
I also add, "I'm not looking to get some great deal or anything, I just followed this path to the software and am expecting to be charged $19.99 for two returns, because of what is printed on your site. I'm just reading what's there."
She calls back in a couple of hours and says, "I've met with our legal people and they agree that it is confusing. We appreciate your bringing this to our attention and we're willing to offer you a free tax return."
This more than what I expected and told her so. I only wanted Intuit Canada to honor what they wrote on the Internet. They exceeded my customer service expectations (which is rare in today's hectic world). Given the frustration and expense of stating our case, maybe the result was 'earned', but it left me with positive feeling about Intuit Canada and I publicly applaud them for admitting the confusion and for their prompt response.
Nadia said that the obfuscation would be corrected for the 2007 tax season. (We'll probably use a boxed version anyway, but maybe we'll take a quick peek at the license agreement, for the online version, first?)
Either way, our taxes for 2006 are nearly complete - for free even - and that's a big relief!