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Intuit backpedals from TurboTax changes after upgrade uproar

Gregg Keizer | Feb. 2, 2015
Intuit backtracked yesterday, not only again apologizing for stiffing TurboTax customers by not telling them of changes in its business model but saying that it would offer partial refunds and free upgrades to its more capable editions.

Smith also promised that Intuit would restore the missing interview sections to TurboTax Deluxe for 2016, but did not say whether that would be accompanied by a price increase.

H&R Block, long locked in a fierce battle with Intuit for U.S. tax preparation market share, took advantage of the TurboTax fiasco to run a customer theft campaign under which it offered its own "Deluxe + State" desktop program free to those who had already purchased TurboTax Deluxe.

The TurboTax debacle was a clear message to software makers who significantly change their products without telling customers.

Intuit wasn't alone in facing customer pushback: Microsoft, for instance, was hammered over both Windows 8 and Windows RT for not plainly communicating those 2012 operating systems' shortcomings. Although Microsoft did not follow Intuit's exact path to recovering customer goodwill, it obviously learned a lesson, retreating from the no-Start-menu of Windows 8 and effectively dumping Windows RT by developing a more cohesive and palatable Windows 10, which will be offered to consumers as a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

Smith had some hard-earned advice for others who dared to cross customers. "Reach out and share why you feel the change is necessary, asking for their input on how best to manage the change," Smith recommended, ticking off other common sense practices, including easing customers into a transition and — shocker — "listen for the feedback and move quickly to acknowledge you've heard it."

Comsumerworld.org's Edgar Dworsky wasn't so sure Intuit absorbed the lessons Smith touted. "Intuit was taught a valuable lesson (again), but its history of practices designed to gouge its customers suggests it probably hasn't really learned anything," Dworsky wrote on his website today.

 

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