David, CPAs, Enrolled Agents and Tax Attorneys are exempt not because of any loophole but because they have already been tested to the hilt and have passed two-day exams (and in the case of attorneys, the bar). They have been vetted by their professional licensing associations and the IRS to assure compliance with tax filing requirements, criminal records, etc. They are required to take way more continuing education than RTRPs would have to take. Only these three classes of professionals are permitted to represent clients before all levels of the IRS because they have had to prove themselves up to it.
I have heard talk before about firms having "one qualified person to sign the returns," and knew right off the bat that the authors had no idea what they were talking about. What CPA, EA, or tax attorney who has gone through all of the above, investing great time and money, would jeopardize their credentials by signing off on returns prepared by others who might not know what they're doing? I'm an EA, and there is no way I would put my name on a return I didn't prepare, except in limited circumstances. NY requires paid preparers who aren't one of the three professional credentials to pay a hefty fee for the privilege of filing NY returns. A gal at our firm who is a public accountant (not CPA) and has twice the experience I have, didn't want to pay the fee so the credentialed preparers were asked to sign off on her NY returns. I was nervous doing so, even though this person is an expert. You think I'd put my name on a return prepared by just anybody? Forgitaboutit. Nor would any CPA or tax attorney in their right mind.
Your "accurate" description of "most" staff members with whom you had contact paints a picture of you, not the company. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. "Fat" and "ugly" are personal opinions, and as such they can never be accurate. Only "female" can be a factual observation and therefore be deemed accurate. And what the he** do your weight and physical features and gender have to do with your ability to prepare tax returns? Bob Dylan had an "ugly" voice, but most people were able to look beyond that to his incredible thoughts and make him a hero. I guess you were not one of those. Governor Christie might be fat (which is how he considers himself, not my opinion), but I bet his wife and many of his constituents think he's the most handsome guy in the world. You probably hate him.
"MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE SERVICE THEY GET!" If that is true, how the heck did HRB get to be a leader in the tax prep industry? They are many times larger than their nearest chain competitors and serve millions of clients each year. Their rate of repeat clients is something like 70 or 80 percent. Where did you get the idea the "most" people are not happy?
Just because YOU are not happy, and YOU think their preparers are fat, old, ugly, women says more about YOU than about most others. HRB, and I trust most other tax preparers, don't need or want clients like you.
Block is forever remodeling its offices, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. A few years ago when I worked at Block, corporate had paid some interior designer a zillion dollars to come up with a "kiosk," that was essentially a huge round table with two partitions crisscrossing it, making room for four preparers and four clients in each slice. The clients sat elbow to elbow and certainly overheard what their neighbors on each elbow were saying. Fortunately the office I worked in most of the time was too narrow to accommodate this huge circle so we kept our separate desks with a partition between the one in front and the one in back.
I suggested to district management several times that we institute a rule barring cell phones in the area beyond the receptionist's desk. I was concerned that cell phones have cameras, and anyone walking toward the back could easily take a snapshot of the tax computer screens as they went by. Heck, many banks and pharmacies have signs at the counter banning cell phones. If Block didn't want to do that, the least they could have done was invest in screen covers that allow only the person sitting directly in front of the screen to see it. They weren't interested in investing a dime to address my concern, I guess because they had already paid a designer zillions and didn't want to admit they didn't consider all the issues.
I'm with you on this one. Where you were the tax pros should have asked clients to write down their SS#s, not speak them aloud. Some of the offices I worked in did have a private office, but that depended on the layout of the space; not all could fit that. With all the identity theft going on today, particularly tax return identity theft, one would expect a business that does tax returns to take the problem seriously. Anyone who owns this stock should expect no less. Is the company TRYING to push people toward online? Sixty percent don't seem to want to go that route (IRS stats).