Did Your Old Tax Software Service Forget You?

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA - These days, with IRS pushing so hard to close the infamous Tax Gap, non-filers are streaming out of the woodwork.

What a terrific win-win opportunity for you!

Help someone get back into the system with the minimum of pain. And you get paid handsomely.

There's no additional investment on your part - you already have all those years of software sitting on your computer or in your cabinets. Just re-install the software.

But, what's if it doesn't work?

Well, I didn't even have my 2003 software in the drawer. It was on my computer. And I'd just used it last month. But...now the software wouldn't work. AND it wouldn't let me uninstall it, so I could remove the corrupted files and re-install.

We called ATX - now CCH or Wolters Kluwer, or whoever they are this week.

    First of all, please understand, I am a huge CCH fan. Always have been. As far as I am concerned, their reference materials are written in the most easy-to-understand fashion - and were, even when I was still struggling through the Tax Course in college.

    Second, we used ATX for 3 or 4 years and always praised the service ATX provided. It was a rudimentary and clunky software. But, for the price, once you learn some cool work-arounds, it's terrific.

    We still have all the original discs, documents and pass-codes to install and activate all the software.

    Third, we didn't leave because we were unhappy. ProSeries made us an offer we couldn't refuse, when CCH bought ATX.

Anyway, Lulu calls them up so she can get help to uninstall the 2003 software and re-install it. They couldn't find my account in their system. The account # didn't work. None of my company names, or Eva Rosenberg worked. Nothing. The woman finally admitted that they must have purged all former customers from the database.

Whoa! What?

I have been using in-house software since Turbo Tax introduced it back in the 1980s. Over the years, I've switched off to other systems. And I've been working with non-filers who need multiple year returns for that entire time. In all that time, when we've called the software house requesting tech support on old software, we have ALWAYS been able to get help.

Sometimes, they aren't really supporting things 10 years old, but they know who we are - and they will send out copies of old discs if ours are corrupted. In fact, we called TaxWorks a few weeks ago about another old year - perhaps 8 year-old software. And they helped us and found our account.

I have never heard of a company purging their files like that. Have you? It's not as if this takes up boxes and boxes and boxes, filling up a warehouse anymore. Disk space is cheap. 100 gigabytes costs barely more than a tank of gasoline.

Anyway, there's a point to all this.

I included a brief rant about this in my e-mailed TaxQuips newsletter. (The part of the TaxQuip that never appears on the website.)

My e-mail was flooded with amazingly generous responses!

Within minutes, Stephen Gunby, CPA sent me a note inviting me to send him my 2003 data and he'll prepare the return for me.

A minute later, Lordis Gawzner, EA's note said that she's using Pro Series (the software I am currently using). When she needed some prior year software, "they sent me all years and told me I can also download the one I needed & gave me the code key to unlock for the years I wasn't a customer. So, now I got all of them back to 99."

The very next e-mail was from Lucie Sample, EA - Technical Lead at Turbo Tax offering to get hold of the year for me.

Frank Webster, EA suggested that MAX won't run on a Vista machine. (Will anything?) But, we haven't been foolish enough to upgrade. So, that's not the problem. Good try, though!

And that's how the day went on. What a flood of generosity! Thanks so much everyone!

Also interesting were the e-mails about ATX/CCH. One person is incensed with the deplorable service she's been getting.

    CCH has recently changed the way they support their software.
    The support has been outsourced (which is what I was literally told by a support supervisor!). This is probably why you received such rotten service.

    From my recollection, this happened sometime last year.
    I don't buy the answer they gave you... it just doesn't sound right.

    It sounds like the "outsourced" support you talked to didn't have a clue of what was going on and were trying to get you off the phone.

    I have also received HORRIBLE service from them as well on many occasions this year.

    I know more about their product in use at my office than their support people do...

    The last couple of times I had to call support, I "politely" requested a supervisor. I refuse to be supported by anybody other than a supervisor after the last "go-round".

And one person LOVES their service:

    [She provided me with the contact to her] CCH /ATX contact person I use who is very good call her with your gripe, which is very good.

    I was appalled at what you found because I have been using ATX since 1995 and have had excellent luck with support including 2007.

Someone else mentioned that they eliminated the forums. But that CCH has reconsidered and will be reinstating them.

Oddly enough, I met the fellow who was the head of ATX's customer service department at the IRS Tax Forum in Las Vegas the year CCH took over ATX. He said that Wolters Kluwer was pumping lot of money into support. So, it's surprising to learn they've moved offshore. Always an unpopular move!

Anyway, the good news, for us at least - we were able to install the software on another computer and prepare the 2003 return with no problem.

I still can't remove 2003 MAX from my main tax computer...but that will have to wait until after tax season.

And you? If you're having problems and can't get help? Tell someone. Post it in a forum. Perhaps even here! And you'll get great help, too.

Hugs

Eva

Your TaxMama

This blog

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

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