Friday, May 16, 2008


Trish McIntire of the OUR TAXING TIMES blog mentioned in today’s post “Rebate Problems” that “it seems that many Refund Loan customers are threatening lawsuits against preparers (notably the big tax prep companies) because their rebates are coming by check”.

Apparently taxpayers who applied for refund-anticipation loans, or who had their e-filing fees deducted from their refunds, won't receive their rebates by direct deposit, even if their regular tax refunds were delivered that way. They must wait for a paper check.

Believe me, I am the first person to encourage lawsuits against the “big tax prep companies” (you know about whom I am speaking) for greed, incompetence, misleading clients, and the like with regards to their various high cost services and products. And there have been many over the past few years (that is one reason Henry and his brother charges so much – they have to pay for their legal fees and the cost of the many settlements they have negotiated). I can’t think of one reason why anyone would overpay these guys to prepare a tax return. However in this instance I must agree with Trish and admonish the greater of two evils.

I, like Trish, am “fascinated by the attorneys who are considering the class action suits. Are they so desperate for work that they are thinking about suing a preparer for not seeing into the future?

What did a person whose rebate was not directly deposited actually lose? Everyone will still eventually get their appropriate check. Are the lawyers going to sue for interest at 2% on $600.00 for the month or two that the payment is delayed? What arseholes!

In most “class action suits” what eventually happens is that the “class” gets a check for $12.36 each and the “barritors” (no, I did not mean to say barristers – look it up) who initiate these actions end up with millions in fees.

Many years ago on one of my post-tax season Atlantic crossings on the QE2 the ship was forced to change course and go south to avoid an iceberg or some such other obstacle (it if was indeed an iceberg it would certainly be sort of “deja-vu-ish” - as Cunard is the “descendant” of the White Star Line of Titanic fame). As a result an extra day was added on to the length of the crossing.

To “compensate” for any inconvenience Cunard provided a one-hour open bar and a free bottle of wine at each table that evening, and the ship’s Travel Office made all necessary arrangements free of charge for passengers who had to change or adjust bookings. In our case we had to push up by one day our reservation at a hotel in Southampton, which Cunard took care of for us.

I remember that we were thrilled to have an extra day at sea on the luxurious QE2, as were most of the passengers. We actually saved money in the long run as we spent one less night at the Southampton hotel.

While I was reading in the lounge the afternoon after the delay was announced a ship’s officer called for our attention and said that one of the passengers wished to address us. A young woman, who identified herself as a lawyer, told us that Cunard had refused to compensate her for having to pay her babysitter back in the States for an extra day and to reimburse her for other minor costs, such as telephone calls, that arose from the delay. She planned to institute a class action suit against Cunard and said that anyone wishing to join with her in this action could contact her later that afternoon in her stateroom, which was somewhere well below deck in “steerage”.

I don’t recall if her announcement was met with hardy laughter then and there – but she was the joke of the cruise for the remaining two days. Everywhere one turned you could hear someone laughing about the “absurd American lawyer” or saying “what did you expect from a lawyer”. I doubt very much whether anyone joined in her action, as nothing was ever heard about it again.

Bill the Bard was right – the first thing we do is kill all the lawyers!


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