The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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Anticipating A Refund

Posted by thedarwinexception on January 31, 2010


So this week is the week I shake my head in disbelief and bewilderment. Why? Because it is the great rush to H&R Block for the specialty of the house – the “Refund Anticipation Loan.” Now, I thought the government had some sort of laws against usurious and outgrageous fees – how is it that H&R Block is able to bypass these laws? 

It never ceases to amaze me that the very people who are the poorest – the ones that JUST CAN’T WAIT to get their income tax refund check are the very same people who will pay someone $350 to get that check for $3000 ONE WEEK EARLIER. Why? I mean, ummmmmmm…..WHY? What is SO pressing that you would pay $350 to get the check 7 days before you would get it for free? And then, on top of that, you have to pay a fee of $35 just to have the special (because it’s called “Emerald” – I mean, that MUST be special, right?) H&R Block ATM card. $35 for a yearly fee for the card? Why? It’s got YOUR money on it! It’s a pre-paid card! Why are they charging you $35 to put YOUR money on a card? And even after you pay $35 to possess the card – well, that’s not enough, H&R Block then charges you ATM fees of $2.95 to take out money – and $5.00 just to check your balance! And that’s in addition to the fee the owner of the ATM will charge – and since there is generally a transaction limit at ATM’s, that’s like $5.00 or more for every withdrawal. 

Madness. Pure and simple madness. 

And the people taking these loans, paying for these cards and paying these transaction fees are the people who can least afford to do so. Un-fucking real. 

I hate these predatory businesses. The businesses that rely on people being ignorant and stupid to keep them solvent. And H&R Block ranks up there amongst the worst.

And this year H&R Block has a new scam going. They deny a lot of people for their “Refund Anticipation Loan”. Such a loan requires a credit check now. Uh-oh. People who are applying for these loans don’t exactly have stellar credit and 2 credit cards in their pocket, now do they? If they did, they probably wouldn’t be applying in the first place. But H&R Block isn’t exactly making it crystal clear to their clients that this is a required part of the process. Most people who have poor credit kind of KNOW they have poor credit, and probably would say “ummm…never mind then.” 

But that would lose H&R Block a ton of business, so they kind of gloss over this little tidbit in the interview process, take the $135 for the “application fee” and then deny people, busting them down to their “Classic Rapid Refund”,  which is simply an e-file – the same service the person could have done themselves on the internet for free. But H&R Block still keeps the $135. Sneaky, eh? 

Now, you all are aware of the economic condition of the town *I* live in. We don’t have a bookstore, we don’t have a movie theater, our Main Street consists mainly of boarded up, failed businesses. But we have an H&R Block. And they prominently advertise their “Refund Anticipation Loans”, and they get inundated with people in January lining up for them. And this just makes me so mad and so disappointed that a national business can be allowed to prey on the people who can least afford such loan shark interest rates and such usurious fees and practices. I think it’s totally unethical, and I think that our State Legislators should shut these practices down. 

And please, anyone who gets one of these “Refund Anticipation Loans”, please comment and tell me exactly WHY you chose to do this. What was the pressing need for the money that balanced out the exorbitant fee that you paid? Because I’ve been wracking my brain for a legitimate reason I would pay a rate this high to get money a week earlier, and I can’t think of anything. 

Or, if you work for H&R Block, go ahead and comment and tell me how you justify this practice. Because I can’t think of any justifications, myself.


19 Responses to “Anticipating A Refund”

  1. Niner said

    Well… I am neither – work for H&R Block or want a loan…

    I do my own taxes!! Only one year I had to go to them, and they only charged me $25 for the filing, and NO I didn’t want it earlier!! LOL!!

    Boggles the mind HOW these companies can still be in business… you are correct your legalistive body HAS to do something about these scam artist!!!

  2. DT said

    Kim, I just checked their fee schedule. It’s a bit cheaper now. Only $1.95 per withdrawal and $1.00 for a balance inquiry. Practically a bargain! However they have a $2.50 per month inactivity fee if you don’t use the card for three months. And a 50 cent “denial” fee, whatever that is. No, you can’t get any money out but we’ll charge you anyway. If you lose your card it’s $10 for a new card. My bank doesn’t charge a dime. Oh, and an extra $35 for fast shipping on the replacement card. And you know people need it right away.


  3. sandy in CO said

    My ex of 20 years works there….I dislike him and H&R. They belong together.

  4. Jackie Provost said

    H & R is right up there with the Rent To Own furniture/appliance rip offs. They rent crappy cheap furniture that doesn’t last as long as it takes to pay it off. With a rediculous mark up in the first place, by the time you pay 29.99 a week for your sectional at a term of a year, you’ve paid $1400.00 for a shitty sofa with no fluff left. “You deserve to have it” they claim. Well, maybe you do.

  5. RSR said

    I filed this year with H&R Block. I also paid for the rapid refund and was denied. No one told me that this is a possibility. Mine is a special circumstance in which I really DID need the refund NOW. I filed on Jan 22 & was told I would have it within 2days. I support my mother who is disabled and have recently had to take time off work to care for her. Due to this our bills were racking up, I still have to provide my mothers medicine and other supplies And the 1st of the month was fast approaching. Needless to say I am beyond mad and will never do business with them again. By the way I still haven’t received my refund.

    • Kym said

      I e-filed (by myself, on the computer) on Jan. 21 or 22 (I was doing taxes in the middle of the night so I am not sure which) and my refund was direct deposited within a few days, both state and fed. I believe the fed says 7-10 days, but when it is early in the year and fewer people are filing it is sometimes faster.

      That you used H&R Block to file on the same date, but still not having the refund makes me wonder if we can add to the list of deceptive practices by H&R Block to include not filing the claims as quickly as they should. (Unless you opted for a check in the mail which understandably takes longer.)

      • DT said

        I also e-file, Kim. Total cost for the federal and state returns with full analysis was $17.00. Just the no frills federal by itself was free. I’ve been using Tax Act for years, there are many others. Nothing to download, just logon. All your basic information is saved from year to year and a new filing each year takes maybe a half hour online. After you file, the IRS emails Tax Act back to say the return is accepted and gives you the date for your refund. This takes one day at the most, sometimes the same day.

        The IRS still uses their antiquated “batch” system, the same one they used on paper returns. Returns are begun on Tuesdays, refunds are issued on Fridays. I filed on a Monday, the IRS confirmed on Tuesday, and my refund is scheduled to be deposited on the following Friday. If you file early enough, perhaps you might make it in one week, but I never have.


  6. […] Anticipating A Refund « The Darwin Exception […]

  7. Val said

    Turbo Tax!!

  8. ellen said

    It’s the American Way these days to rip off the poor. So sad.

  9. ritanita said

    Kim, add to H&R Block all those “fast” loans on your car title. They are legal where I live and the ads on TV show people borrowing money for such necessities as a vacation or a shopping spree.

    The loan rates are high and if you keep rolling it over, you lose your car.

  10. Niner said

    Kim – WHERE ARE YOU??? I hope is well with you and Paul!!!

  11. anygirl said

    Hey Kim,

    I hope all is well. I know you had a lot on your plate the last time you posted to us. Pleae let us know how the surgery went for Paul. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. kathymeyer said

    have you quit blogging? sure do miss ya.

  13. Missy said

    I miss your blog…hope you are okay!

  14. Brenda Hefty said

    Are you just on twitter & facebook? I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time & wish I could still follow you in some way.

  15. Dr. H said

    My mother did her taxes with H & R Block in Feb 2009. She was part of the “First-Time Homebuyers Credit”. The person that did the taxes said my mother could only get $1700 back, however I looked through the IRS tax codes and found current tax guidelines that H & R Block were not using to figure the “correct” amt of credit. I brought a copy up to the office. After the office manager called their home office, they had to recall and refigure over half the First time homebuyers credits. Good news way more money, bad news government takes forever to give your money to you. My mother is still waiting for her credit.

  16. A. Scott said

    I do agree that the fees are outrageous!

    I do not know why people need to have the “loan” from filing their taxes. When my husband and I had ours prepared we were told to expect our check within 7-10 business days of filing. Our check came early, under 1 week, it was not a small check either. If anyone has unpaid bills that NEED to be paid NOW most collectors will work out a schedule. Plus, if you call them and explain that you will mail out some money on a certain date they will typically lay off you for a short period in anticipation of getting their money. The only pressing need I see for getting a loan is if you have no money at all and need to buy food today to feed your starving children. Bill collectors can wait, and typically will although not patiently, for you to get your refund from the government.

    Don’t get me wrong, pushing off a debt to buy cigarettes, new video games or other niceties will get you in loads of trouble. I doubt anyone will fault an adult for choosing to provide the necessities for their family first.

  17. ADA said

    Kim – missing you!

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