For some tax season is like an Adult’s Christmas, for some it brings anxiety, still for others it’s like bad sex you just want to get it over and for some it makes no difference. For those who are not in the latter category and are thinking about using a “professional tax service”, this article is for you.

 

I always have my taxes done in a tax office because I own two businesses and I don’t want to miss any deductions nor do I want to submit incorrect taxes. It just saves time and money to have professionals prepare them.

 

As with any other business decision you should do your research on a company you plan to do business with. I broke this golden rule and it cost me time, energy, and lots of frustration.

 

In January I went into Jackson Hewitt in downtown Atlanta. I used them two years before and had a minor problem. In my gut I knew I should have paid attention to the bad experience but I fell to the convenience of their location.  

 

I go in with all of my necessary documents and the preparer is really nice. The climate before was less than professional which is why I had reservations about coming back. However, it seemed to have changed. The workers all seemed to be handling clients in a manner that wouldn't cause concern. They all seemed to know what they were doing.

 

Two hours pass and finally I’m signing over permission for them to submit my taxes. I’m satisfied that we've given the IRS everything they need.

 

Two weeks pass and my Federal return is deposited minus their fee. Seems normal and life goes on. Flash forward two months and my state return hasn’t been deposited.

 

I call the Georgia Department of Revenue to get an idea on what happen. I hadn’t heard from them or Jackson Hewitt so I assumed everything was okay.

 

It took a while but I finally got a live person on the tax consumer line. She told me my return had contained errors and they needed to be corrected before my return could be processed. Turns out one of those errors was my address was incorrect so I did not get the letter the GDR sent to notify me of my return being delayed.

 

The GDR agent verified a few things with me, then got the information she needed to make the corrections. After I finished the fairly easy process, I called Jackson. Surely they would want to make this right for their customer.

 

I was told to come into the office and talk to the Regional manager. When I got to the office the initial contact was adequate but my problem hadn’t been solved. The person I need to speak with wasn’t there. The “Supervisor” who took my information than began to tell me a few mistakes were made but it was no big deal because I was getting direct deposit. When I told her I wanted a refund, she said she certainly couldn’t do that and I would have to speak with the absent manager.

 

After three days I tried other avenues like calling the 800 number from the website, calling other offices the manager was responsible for, even submitting e-mails to the site. Since all of the offices are franchises this 800 number is pretty much useless. Every time I called I was told the manager would be in the next day.

 

On the fourth day I called still no manager in the office. I decided to go in for a second time. This time I armed myself with the video camera of my smart phone. The “Supervisor” was yelling at me how I couldn’t record this interaction. I explained I was a member of the press and could indeed record this interaction.  When we began to discuss what I needed to resolve the situation she began loud, belligerent, and hostile. After some more inappropriate behavior she decided to call the manager up.

 

She went back to her desk and began yelling again across the room in answer to everything as I was trying to explain my situation to her manager. I had to put the phone down and ask her to be quiet so I could hear her boss. She finally shut up long enough for me to have a conversation with the manager. He offered me $19.00 half of my state return filing fee. That made me livid. After the scene I had just endured, the time I had spent tracking him down, dealing with the GDR on the phone, and my general aggravation level that was not acceptable.

 

He agreed to come into the office that day and we would come to an agreement.  He was true to his word and after some back and forth he finally agreed to give me my entire state fee back.  I think he realized I wasn’t going to back down.

 

The thing that bothers me most is not that a mistake was made, it’s the manner in which I was handled to fix the mistake. This Forsyth location had to be the most unprofessional office of any industry I’ve ever been in. Jackson Hewitt has no appropriate structure do deal with complaints against the independent franchises. They leave all resolution and reporting to the offending office.  The employees besides my initial preparer who regularly worked in that office were awful.

 

My return was due in February, as I write this it’s almost April and according to the GDR I have another thirty days before my return will be deposited.

 

I guess what I have learned is like Olivia Pope says, trust your gut. Like her my gut is never wrong. know who’s working for you and avoid any of the tax services who advertise on tv. Next year I'll try tax software. It can't be any worse.