It’s trash talk season. The insults are flying. And nooo, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. I’m talking about tax season.
Jackson Hewitt, the nation’s #2 retail tax preparer service, has filed a lawsuit against H&R Block, the nation’s #1 retail tax preparer service, for making what it called “false, misleading and highly disparaging advertising claims” about the company.
The lawsuit specifically focuses on H&R Block’s “Second Look” ad campaign. In the ad campaign, Block claims that they found errors in two out of three tax returns prepared by Jackson Hewitt.
In a press release related to the lawsuit, Jackson Hewitt chief executive Philip Sanford said, about the lawsuit:
We are extremely disappointed with H&R Block and feel they are doing a significant disservice to U.S. taxpayers with their false advertising claims that are designed to undermine trust in Jackson Hewitt. We intend to pursue every avenue available to us to stop their campaign of misinformation.
Of course, Hewitt’s lawsuit has done exactly what most lawsuits do: it’s made folks like me curious. I don’t recall hearing any disparaging remarks about Hewitt made by Block so I went looking for them (really, Hewitt, is that what you wanted?). I found a terrible (I can’t stress the terrible part enough) commercial from a previous year:
This commercial merely refers to returns prepared by “someone else.”
Next, I poked around trying to find a screenshot of the comments at issue but I couldn’t find any. On Block’s own web site, they currently have the somewhat generic statement:
With Second Look® Review, we found errors in two out of three returns prepared by other retail tax preparation offices.
I’m assuming that more blatantly disparaging comments are out there – somewhere – but I just haven’t seen them. If you’ve seen them, please send them my way. I’d love to see more about what drove the company to file this lawsuit during this time of year. The timing just feels extraordinarily bad from a PR perspective. For more information, the lawsuit is Jackson Hewitt Inc v. H&R Block Tax Services LLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-00641.