H&R Block Complaint - H&R Block's Emerald Card is a ripoff!!!
If you go to H&R Block to do your taxes, know this:
1) Most people will get turned down for a Refund Anticipation Loan(RAL), but that's just fine for H&R Block, because the refund will automatically default into a regular 8-15 day refund. Be careful, because the H&R tax representative might not tell you this. In my case, the tax rep called me the following day to say that the bank had declined my request for a RAL. (The reason was because I owed the IRS a late fee from the 2009 year.)
Since I didn't want to pay all this money ($169.64) for the regular 8-15 day refund, I told the tax rep to cancel my refund. That's when he horrified me by saying that it already had gone through. You see, when a RAL gets declined, it just means you don't have to pay the 6.95 RAL fee. Everything else stays the same, which means I've now paid $169.64 and STILL have to wait 8-15 days to get my refund. (When I was in the office the day before, he'd told me that I would have 5 days to cancel the RAL transaction, which was why I didn't sweat it. But when I tried to cancel, he told me that the 5-day rule only applies to the RAL itself, not the regular 8-10 day refund.) In other words, I was taken. Scammed.
2) When it turned into a regular refund, I was now stuck paying all this money for something that I could have done for FREE through state tax prep assistance or efiling! So my advice is to just go to turbotax.com, which is easy, faster, and best of all, cheaper (about $30) than H&R Blockhead. (Remember, unless you are getting a RAL, you won't get your taxes any sooner by going to H&R Block. The IRS doesn't care who prepared your taxes or how much you paid to have them done!)
3) Rather than direct deposit, the H&R Block tax rep offered me an Emerald Card, which was just another way for them to bleed me to death. This card was a freaking headache! Of course I asked for direct deposit, but he (the H&R tax rep) said this was how they disburse the refunds. What he didn't tell me was that H&R will charge you about $1.95 for each time you use it at an ATM, plus you will still have to pay the bank's ATM fee (and it doesn't matter if you use your own bank's ATM because you aren't using that bank's card.) Chase charged me three dollars, so I paid a total of $4.95 to withdraw the refund from the Emerald Card via ATM.
4) The contract states: "You will receive only one H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard and the Card will be in the name of the Primary taxpayer designated above." My name was clearly typed above this statement, yet the Emerald Cards all have "H&R Client" typed on them. They are all pre-stamped this way. My bank wouldn't touch it. Since I couldn't take the refund out of the card through the teller window, I had to go to the ATM machine, and pay the fees (see #3).
5) So, here's the sad rundown:
Original refund amount: $624
H&R Block fees: $133
Bank fees: $36.64
IRS late fee: $151.36
ATM fees: $3 (Chase) $1.95 (H&R Block)
Total deductions: $325.95
What I took home: $298.05
Yes, I was foolish for agreeing to pay so much for a RAL in the first place, but I was in a situation where getting that money in 1-2 days would have prevented a lot of other problems for me. But it only made me sink deeper into debt. I just want others to learn from this horrible experience. Thanks for reading!