Thursday, January 28, 2010

No form 8158 on Forms Tree - Was:Who is not green?

Part of going green is to use electronic documents rather than paper documents when possible.  While there are all the requirements of interview sheets and Quality Review Checklists that are printed up and checked off, at our site we choose to fill in the electronic version of those forms and keep them with the return.

In the last 2 years, we routinely filled in Form 8158 after selecting it from the form tree in taxwise, and used it as a checklist that was carried with the return for future reference.  Imagine my consternation when I found that this year that was not the case.  A call to our friendly TaxWise Customer Support and a one hour wait on the phone established that indeed the form was not on the form tree.  The suggested solution was to go to the IRS website and download the form and print it out to be used.

When a form is already in the form tree, I would expect it is easier to just leave it there, rather than make a conscious effort to take it out.  If this was a conscious effort, it does appear that someone has too much time on their hands and needs to be doing something to appear busy.

In these days of ecology consciousness and going green it is a sad state of affairs that we are now going back to yet more paper printed and shredded.

Whatever will be next?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rude customer service interaction

When a person is dealing with a telephone and trying to get through to a person for customer support, it is disrespect for the machine thelpo abruptly on the person.  Nevertheless, that is how the customer support line behaved towards this person needing service.

The customer service help line number was obtained by logging into the TaxWise customer support website with the Client ID and the super secure password that was required.  On calling the number given there and entering the client ID, I was told that the client ID did not entitle me to help on that line, and the line went dead.

If the website portal of TaxWise cannot provide the correct customer support number for a given client ID, it reflects on the care taken in presenting the site.  It is sloppy programming of the portal, and to compound the insult, no other alternative phone number is given.  I suggest it reflects the poor attitude of the vendor to the customer, and perhaps is an indication of the quality of the customer and technical support staff.

Bah!  Computers and automation are supposed to help people, not be used as an excuse to deny service or be rude to customers.

Evaluate If TaxWise Online will work for you (updated)

Evaluate if TaxWise Online will work for you posted on July 1, 2009 was suggested as a way of evaluating if TaxWise Online would work for you.  In objectively trying it out, and also the practice lab version of TaxWise Online, it was found that performance was slow.  It could be that the internet connection to the computer was slow, since it did not meet the minimum recommended connection speed of 800 Kilobytes/sec or 800 Kilobites/sec.

Discussion with users of TaxWise Online during the last season indicated that the production version of TaxWise Online (TWO) is actually faster than the practice version.  However, since it is not possible to try it out in a production environment before "buying" as it were, it might lead to remorse later on to be told that the poor performance is due to not having a fast enough internet connection.  Recall that the amount of data transferred is relatively small, so possible reasons for poor performance could be insufficient server capacity or insufficient internet connection speed at the server.