H&R BLOCK MULTI-STATE SETTLEMENT
(Pierre) – Attorney General Larry Long announced a $3.3 million nationwide settlement with H&R Block. H&R Block Services Inc. has agreed to establish a fund to reimburse clients who paid for the company’s “Peace of Mind” guarantee but may not have wanted to purchase the optional service.
“We contend H&R Block added a fee of $22 to some consumer tax return preparation invoices without first obtaining the consumer’s authorization,” said Long. “We hope that the settlement will help H&R Block to recognize the importance of informing consumers of all fees prior to charging them.”
In accordance with the agreement, H&R Block will establish a fund of $1 million to pay refunds to eligible consumers who had a tax return prepared at an H&R Block office in the 2001 tax season. To be eligible, consumers must not have utilized this guarantee and were never informed of the guarantee.
H&R Block has agreed to obtain proper authorization before charging for the guarantee in the future and they cannot “recommend” the purchase of the guarantee until the customer has been provided the terms and conditions of the guarantee. H&R Block has also agreed to reimburse the states for legal and investigative cost of bringing this action. H&R Block denies that it violated any consumer protection statute and maintains that it did not deprive its customers of the choice.
Those consumers who may be eligible for this reimbursement must make a request either by calling a toll free number #866-522-7083, or by visiting the H&R Block website. During this contact, consumers will be asked to provide their social security number in order to track these transactions. Consumers will not be notified by mail. “Consumers who believe they are eligible for a refund should contact H&R Block, or my office at 800-300-1986,” said Long. The deadline for the request for refunds is August 22, 2003.