Intuit Apologizes For TurboTax Debacle

Intuit Apologizes For TurboTax Debacle

Mark Hachman

Intuit Corp. hopes to close the book on its TurboTax fiasco on Thursday, placing ads in major newspapers that will apologize to its customers.

Intuit, which has said it will end its e-activation scheme on the latest version of its TurboTax tax software, felt it was necessary to publicly note the change. The company will run ads in both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

“I think it’s probably two reasons,” said Tom Allanson, general manager of TurboTax, in an interview. “I interacted with a lot of customers this past year. Now I normally deal with a lot of customers, but I talked to a lot of customers, as my email address is rather popular right now.

“There were two groups of customers,” Allanson said. “Some people were just incensed that you would do this to me, i.e., you owe me an apology. Others were of the sort who would ask, are you really going to do this to me again, and they wouldn’t understand—no, we’re not.”

In addition, Intuit has posted “universal” activation numbers to allow customers to have unfettered access to TurboTax 2002, said a spokeswoman for Intuit. The company originally planned to offer the activation numbers to customers on the TurboTax support site after Oct. 15, when filing extensions run out. But the company changed its mind, and decided to offer the apology and the activation numbers on the same date.

Allanson reiterated that Intuit has not closed the book on adding digital-rights-management (DRM) technology to future versions of TurboTax. However, the company now realizes that its previous strategy prevented customers from freely using the product.

“DRM limited your ability to use the product in what I’d describe as legitimate ways,” Allanson said. “We’re going to have to do something eventually, but we’re going to do it like I described, without affecting customers.”

Intuit’s letter will read:

“In response to feedback from our customers, I want you to know that we’re making an important change to TurboTax software and have removed activation technology.

The new TurboTax for 2003 coming later this year can be used fully on multiple computers.

Last year, some TurboTax customers were inconvenienced as a result of being prevented from using the software on multiple computers. While many of you had no problem, some of you did. And that’s what concerns me most.

I want to personally apologize for any frustration you may have experienced due to the restrictions that came with our use of anti-piracy technology. I’ve talked one-on-one with quite a few customers, so I know this caused some of you considerable hassle and inconvenience.

You told us that you want the flexibility to install and use TurboTax on multiple computers, and we heard you, loud and clear. We responded back in May by committing to remove the technology from TurboTax for 2003 and now, we’ve expanded our license agreement so you can use TurboTax fully on multiple computers to do returns for yourself and members of your household. We’ve also made it possible for you to use your current 2002 version of TurboTax fully on multiple computers.

But that’s not all. We’re making the things you value most about TurboTax even better. The new TurboTax will give you even more confidence that your return is accurate and complete. We will help you get the most from your deductions. And the new TurboTax will thoroughly handle any changes going on in your life that affect your taxes.

Let me assure you that we are working harder than ever to earn your confidence and trust. This is, and always will be, of the utmost importance to us.”

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in ExtremeTech.