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March 17, 2005 12:01 AM

Broken: TurboTax rebate

IntuitrebateDavid Johnson writes:

So, I'm finishing up my taxes on TurboTax and am getting ready to mail in the little card to get my rebate for e-filing my return ($14.95) when I notice that instead of mailing it in, I can go to this website and get my rebate online.

So I do so, fill out all the forms and finally get to the last page where it says "Print this out and mail it in..."


So... it's an online rebate - but you have to mail the results of using that online site in via ordinary, everyday, snail-mail...

...just like the rebate card that came with the TurboTax CD...

Someone doesn't grasp the concept of "online" very well here.

Oh! And while the IRS (held up as the gold-standard of confusion and inefficiency in many circles) can get a multi-hundred dollar rebate back to me in 7-10 days, a $14.95 rebate takes 8-10 weeks!

Seriously broken..


Gotta agree, Intuit is not to intuitive when it comes to online marketing. Not too inspiring for a software company.

Last year I used TurboTax because someone gave me a copy (he accidentally bought the Mac version instead of PC, and instead of doing the logical thing and buying a Mac to go with it, gave the package to me).

So this year I figure I'll use the same program. Of course, you can't just update the software you already HAVE, you have to buy a whole new version. You can't do this from within the software you have, either. Silly me, thinking that I should be able to simply purchase an update key or go into last years program and click 'get new version' to buy it online or some EASY thing. No, I have to buy the whole new package, and I can't even download it. Logic would suggest that a large percentage of the program and supporting materials would be pretty much the same year to year, but even if not why can't I download the thing? Instead I have to pay shipping and wait for them to deliver a CD-ROM.

Get with it, folks. In an online world, why do I have to wait for a snailmail disc to update something, and then snailmail in a card to get a discount?

Okay, so the last question I can answer myself: They want to make it difficult to redeem the rebate because it means money going OUT.

But it still doesn't answer why they don't make it easier to get their product, because that would be money COMING IN!

Posted by: Erich at March 17, 2005 01:14 AM

Someone with a business degree once explained to me that the principle behind rebates is that people are lazy: you draw in customers by inticing them with great rebates but since actually cashing in takes a lot of hurdles most people don't bother to actually send them in.

Maybe rebates in general are broken. But does that mean any sales tactic that involves mucking with prices to draw in customers is broken? I don't know...

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at March 17, 2005 05:45 AM

Rebates are a gimme. Set up a million conditions, and if someone does fit it and sends it in, then hand over there money 3 months after getting the rebate.

Just a customer attractor, most don't fill them out, so it's usually worth it.

I hate the concept of "Instant Rebates"-It's a stupid word for $x off, why not say it's on sale?

Posted by: JC at March 17, 2005 06:31 AM

Okay I agree with the rebate comments. However, you CAN buy the Turbo Tax software on line and download to your PC without having to wait for the CDs via snail mail.

Posted by: hw at March 17, 2005 06:59 AM

It IS an online world. I don't even buy turbotax software, turbotax is available completely online without download of any kind, and I filed my taxes this year completely for free, using turbotax for the web.

Apparently the IRS is pushing for the "paperless" system, and has a FREE FILING option if you go through their website and choose free filing. Turbotax is just one of the many completely free filing options available, (including H&R Block). The current push is apparently one of COMPLETELY free, no software, fast and easy. I don't know how these businesses are supposed to stay in business offering everything completely free, maybe they get a cut from the IRS or something...the whole rebate thing isn't as much "broken" as it is "the way of the dinosaur"

Posted by: Kay at March 17, 2005 07:31 AM

The rebate application consists of the rebate form, and supporting documents usually to provide proof of purchase. The rebate submission is "online" only in the sense that you can submit the application for the rebate online. The supporting documentation still needs to be sent in via snail mail. The only advantage to using the online rebate facility is that you know they have your rebate application and have a tracking number to use if you don't get your rebate within the specified time.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at March 17, 2005 08:22 AM

The firms whose software is available on the web for free are charging their usual fee for the state versions of their programs. With turbo tax you get the state version free when you buy the federal software, but when you get the federal software free through the IRS, you have to pay for the state software - pretty slick.

Posted by: Ellen at March 17, 2005 09:50 AM

hw:However, you CAN buy the Turbo Tax software on line and download to your PC without having to wait for the CDs via snail mail.

Heh. One mystery solved, another one posed. Yesterday, I clicked on a similar link in a TurboTax e-mail (extolling the virtues of the software and solicitating a repeat purchase), and I wasn't offered the option of a download. Shipped software ONLY. Last night, I searched all over the site and even used the search feature to find downloadable versions, and could not find a single version of TurboTax available for download. Some of Intuit's other software, yes, but not TurboTax.

But sure enough, I click on YOUR link with another "Priority Code" in it, and lo and behold I can download EXACTLY WHAT I WANT.

So why don't they offer ME what I want? That is definitely broken.

Kay:I don't even buy turbotax software, turbotax is available completely online without download of any kind, and I filed my taxes this year completely for free, using turbotax for the web.

Year before last I used not one but TWO online versions. H&R Blocks was so incredibly slow I gave up on it and switched to the TurboTax online. That was better, but still a darn sight slower and harder to use than the actual software running dedicated on my computer.

Granted they very well may improve every year, and I expect increased bandwidth availability would accelerate things as well. I just have a problem with all this personal data sitting stored on someone else's computer system. It's bad enough that it's sitting on mine.

Posted by: Erich at March 17, 2005 02:54 PM

I'd say IRS is broken.

Illinois have their state tax filing done totally online (, in a wizard fashion. You enter the numbers, you click Next, lather rinse repeat, voila, type in your checking account number, that's it. Takes less 10 minutes, and you don't have to sift through the 60-page paper manual, and there can be no mistakes because all the 'business rules' are already programmed into that wizard.

In fact, I don't see why fed's won't do that. I still do not understand why I have to PAY to make THEIR job easier (you know, no papers to mail or file, etc.)! THEY should PAY me for that!

Posted by: Wesha at March 17, 2005 03:46 PM

The rebates are supposed to be really troublesome to do, to limit the number of people who send them in.

Posted by: somebody at March 17, 2005 09:26 PM

i did a search on google for turbotax, the third link down said "Download TurboTax Today"

Posted by: Dragon at March 17, 2005 10:42 PM

Lol... sounds like my friend's idea of an e-mail.. Type up the e-mail, then print it out and put it in an envelope.

Posted by: Me at March 18, 2005 02:23 AM

Erich: I remember how horribly SLOOOOOW turbotax on the web was last year too! This year I took a deep breath, poured myself a tall one and hunkered down for what I thought would be another multi-hour process. Surprisingly, it wasn't. They actually let you skip entire sections that you don't need...I no longer get asked questions about things that don't apply...yes, they are getting better and faster. Still much room for improvement, but better - hey, I got it for free, so I'm happpy.

Posted by: Kay at March 18, 2005 07:17 AM

Rebates of any form are a pain. However, we just bought a new Epson printer at Office Depot. The rebate was printed right out of the register and we went on line when we got home and got the rebate bada-boom-bada-bing. Amazing technology.

I also have used Turbo Tax for the web for the last 5 years. This year was only 9.95,(half off)which I had to prepay with my credit card before proceeding further. Usually it's deducted from your refund. One interesting factor was there wasn't the agreement form from Santa Barbara Bank as per usual with the 19.99 wire transfer fee. That left me worried for days that I wasn't getting a refund. Repeated calls to the toll free number, complete with waiting for a human on the land line for an eternity, left me as unknowing as they were as to why? Noone knew. The on line folks that you have to wait for to be available didn't know either. But I did get my refund direct deposit as per normal. And no SBB wire transfer fee this year. Yippee, more money for electronic goodies!

I also DID NOT get an e-mail confirmation that my card had been charged, as requested. (an option you may choose) It wasn't until I checked my online bank statement that I saw the charge 5 days later and felt all might be okay in tax-land.

They did some serious upgrading to it, however, and the program found deductions I would have completely forgotten about.

No need to buy Turbo Tax every year when it's right at

Happy taxing.

Posted by: Suchana at March 18, 2005 09:46 AM

Another way rebates are broken: You have to pay sales tax on the rebated portion, but don't get the sales tax back when (if ever) you get the reimbursement.

Posted by: RC at March 18, 2005 12:23 PM

Rebates are a pain. I bought a Mad Dog 52x32x52 cd burner from tigerdirect for $50 it cam with a $30 rebate so the total cost was $20.

It took about 3 months for the rebate to vome through. I called and asked what happened to my rebate and they said it went through. A few days later a got my rebate and they day that it was printed was about THE SAME DAY I CALLED MAD DOG .

Posted by: unknown at March 18, 2005 07:06 PM

A hey can file federal for free this year. Uncle sam is paying for it but you have to get to your site thru the goverment web site or else you have to pay full price. I know it is true I got my taxes back a month ago and only had to pay for state filling with turbo tax.(19.95 I think) Go to this IRS site and find the service you use and follow the link to the site and start doing your taxes as usual. Try turbo tax and when you get to their page it will say file federal for free. But if you go directly to their site without going thru the IRS page they charge you and don't mention that you can get it for free. (Now That's BROKEN!)

Let me know how many of you knew about this. I know they are not telling people about it anywhere. I just happen to read it in a magazine in Jan.

Good luck


Posted by: cns at March 19, 2005 04:12 AM

The firms whose software is available on the web for free are charging their usual fee for the state versions of their programs. With turbo tax you get the state version free when you buy the federal software, but when you get the federal software free through the IRS, you have to pay for the state software - pretty slick.


Posted by: parie at March 23, 2005 06:57 AM

Another twist came from Best Buy; I had purchased several I.T. items from them which had rebates. I did not realize that the rebates were part of the receipt, and used the rebate form online. Only after several inquiries did I learn that the on-line form could only be used for on-line purchases; the receipt form had to be used for in-store purchases. Regardless of what marketing gimmick rebates are used for, companies need to be held accountable for poor customer handling.

Posted by: FLyingASHtrays at March 25, 2005 09:57 PM

I just don't buy things with rebates attached any more. Filling out the paperwork is a pain in the ass at best, and even if I get the rebate I usually become furious at some point in the process.

Rebates practically guarantee poor customer service.

Posted by: The artist formerly known as M. at April 3, 2005 04:09 PM

The catch with rebates is that most people buy the product because of the perceived savings but then don't fill out the form. It's a marketing ploy that works to the advantage of the company usually. They don't have to put the promotion money up front... It's only paid if someone sends in the form.

Posted by: Anna at April 6, 2005 04:03 AM

I purchased TT last year and was told by the processing company that I didn't inclued the UPC. Not true, * them. I also fell for the online rebate BS. I had problem in Feburary accessing the website, it kept crashing. If they do it again I'm going to find some other way to do my taxes for sure.

Posted by: Kevin at April 10, 2005 03:13 PM

I used TurboTax this year. I did the rebate online and didn't have to mail anything in. I just received my checks with no problems.

Posted by: Shelly at April 14, 2005 04:35 AM

For the last two years I have bullied Intuit to send me the Turbotax rebates without sending in the little card. Their excuse for not doing this automatically is the need for proper documentation that I bought their product. But in many cases, the product I bought was downloaded directly from their website and all I needed to do was supply a receipt number.

So perhaps if we all bully them from here on out, they will support completely on-line rebates.

Posted by: Fran at May 16, 2005 07:24 AM

I took the time to fill out the rebate forms and submit supporting documentation only to find that the processing center claimed I did not send the UPC. If you run into the same issue, please notify Intuits President of potential fraudulent activity at:

Posted by: Eric at May 17, 2005 12:51 AM

Have you ever tried to get the remaining depreciation BASIS out of TurboTax. I quite using Trubotax this year and find that there seems to be no way to get the undepreciated Basis out of last year's TurboTax. Anyone ever try. Of course, there is no one to talk to at Intuit. They have you captive no matter how bad their product and service.

Posted by: Curtis at May 19, 2005 09:29 AM

Ok, so here is my question.

If I already have (and want to use) the box version of Turbo Tax; Is there a way I can file Federal for free? Or is the free federal filing only if you use Turbo Tax online? (I know, that makes two questions,)



Posted by: Brian at January 24, 2006 05:32 PM

I have tried and tried to check on my rebate from that comes with the Turbo Tax no matter how I enter the e-mail address it comes back unknown!!!!!Where is my rebate? Something is sounding like a scam.

Posted by: J. Muncil at February 21, 2006 12:23 PM

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