Saturday, February 15, 2014

What, no steak knives? Really cheap, Liberty Tax!

Even before I saw this commercial, I've always had a kind of morbid fascination with the Non-Existent 8 months out of the year company known as Liberty Tax.

First, like I said, this company seems to pop into existence around the first week of January only to vanish without a trace on April 15 and reappear again right after Christmas.  You can pretty much set your watch to seeing underpaid stooges*- some dressed in Statue of Liberty costumes- spinning arrows on the street, or those freaky wind sock creatures hypnotically beckoning you to come in and spend way too much on slap-and-dash tax preparation "services."

Second, it never fails to amaze me that anyone would think that Liberty Tax looks like a reputable business operation.  The "offices" are always located in rent-by-the-month buildings next to dollar stores or pawn shops.  I walked into one the other day (yes, every once in a while I actually do a little research for these posts) and saw that the entire setup consisted of two chairs, one desk (equipped with a laptop which appeared to be connected to the internet with a modem, no kidding) a starving artist Walmart-level painting over the desk, and a rug which could have used a good shampoo.  And you think "yep, these look like people I can trust with my money?"  Really?

Third, a quick trip to (one of my favorite sites) reveals HUNDREDS of complaints, all concerning hidden fees, inflated prices, inaccurate refund estimates, etc. etc.  Now, I suppose that the people who have access to also have access to cheap, safe, and professional tax preparers, so this criticism may be unfair- but jeesh, public libraries provide free internet access.  Is it so hard to do a little research when it comes to something as important as filing?

And then we have this commercial.  Refer a friend and get fifty bucks.  Refer more friends and get a DVD player.  Refer some more and get a big-screen TV.  Gifts in exchange for referrals- from a tax preparer?  Does this really sound on the level?  I mean, this isn't cable.  It's TAX PREPARATION.

Can I assume that most of the people who use Liberty Tax are new to the United States or very young and inexperienced, and just don't understand that tax filing is a bit more serious than buying a toaster?  Because I really don't understand how anyone of normal intelligence and some understanding of How Things Work could walk into one of these dumps because they saw a guy dressed like he should be in New York Harbor spinning a sign.  I mean, jeesh.  This is MONEY we're talking about.

*Didn't mean to be harsh here- times are tough, and work is work, and I must say that most of these guys seem to show real enthusiasm for their jobs, which makes me wonder if most of their pay isn't based on commission.

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