The Darwin Exception

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

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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

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.


Posted in Economics, Malone, rants | 19 Comments »