November 19, 2009 by Jay Freeborne

For quite some time, the Better Business Bureau is the best arbiter of problems between companies and their clients.  In the nearly 30 years of Washington Tax Service's existence, we have made a great effort to maintain our A + rating at the BBB.

Since 2004, three sites have come into existence where people can post complaints against companies:

Rip Off Report (Rip Off Report themselves rate a F rating at the BBB.) 
Pissed Consumer  (Pissed Consumer also rates a F rating at the BBB).
and Complaints Board

The unfortunate thing about these sites is once you have clearly and thoroughly rebutted a complaint -- the complaint lingers. Unlike the BBB, there really is no arbitration. Once you respond, people still see the toxic complaint as if it weren't rebutted. Finally, these complaint sites offer no mediation and no refund whatsoever. So complaining at them serves no purpose...They're just for venting. Any reasonable person should be directed to the BBB.COM where some kind of solution can be arrived at, including a refund :)

Nonetheless, we have responded to every SINGLE internet complaint that we know of. In the ten years these sites have been in existence, these complaints now TOTAL 19. Do realize that our staff has handled well over 10,000 cases since 1989. So, these complaints represent a very small fraction of people who hire us. In the spirit of full disclosure and also to defend our reputation, below is an analysis and review of these complaints. The complaints are addressed as REBUTTED, UNKNOWN OR FAKE.

QUICK SUMMARY OF COMPLAINTS

1. Rip Off Report. August-17, 2005, Lafayette, LouIsiana, Analysis: RESOLVED POSITIVELY - FEE REFUNDED .
2. Rip Off Report 12-20-2005, 2-14-2006, 2-21-2006, (all three postings from same person), Los Angeles, CA - Analysis: REBUTTED
3. Pissed Consumer. January 1, 2008, Analysis: ANONYMOUS AND UNKNOWN
4. Pissed Consumer. Sept 5, 2008, Analysis: REBUTTED
5. Rip Off Rep. April 27, 2009 and Complaints Board, Oct 21, 2009, (same person), Analysis: REBUTTED
6. Rip Off Rep. May-5-2009, Analysis: ANONYMOUS AND UNKNOWN
7. Rip Off Rep. May-11-2009, Analysis: ANONYMOUS AND UNKNOWN
8. Pissed Cons. October 14-2009,  "Complete Fraud," Analysis: RETRACTED
9. Pissed Cons. October 20-2009, Analysis:  ANONYMOUS AND UNKNOWN
10. Pissed Cons. March 11, 2011, Analysis: REBUTTED
11. Pissed (one post), March 31-2011 and Complaints Bd.(two posts) April 12, 2011 and April 13, 2011 (same person), - Analysis: REBUTTED
12. Pissed Consumer. August 2-2011, Analysis: REBUTTED
13. Complaints Board and Pissed (same person) March 23-2012, Analysis: FAKE?
14. Rip Off Rep. - November 13-2012, Analysis: 100% FAKE FROM COMPETITOR
15. Pissed ConsumerApril 10-2013, Analysis: REBUTTED
16. Pissed Consumer October 28-2013, Analysis: 100% FAKE FROM COMPETITOR
17. Pissed Consumer - Oct 2015, Analysis: REBUTTED
18. Pissed Consumer - Aug 2016, Analysis: RESOLVED POSITIVELY

19. Pissed Consumer - Oct 2017, Analysis: RESOLVED POSITIVELY

In Summary --

3 were FAKE.
4 were ANONYMOUS - CLIENT COULDN'T BE IDENTIFIED.
3 were RESOLVED POSITIVELY.
1 was RETRACTED but Pissed Consumer wouldn't remove it. 
8 were REBUTTED and a request for customer to call us was made.

DETAILED SUMMARY OF COMPLAINTS

YEAR 2005

1. Rip Off Report, August 27, 2005 - Lafayette, Louisiana Analysis: Resolved - Refunded Fee.

2. Rip Off Report, Dec 20, 2005 (2/14/06, 2/21,2006) - "Washington Tax Services - ripoff" -  -  Analysis: REBUTTED. We merged these three separate complaints because they were made by the same person on Rip Off Report. Mark Balelo's case with us went something like this: our staff got extensions with the IRS throughout five months so our client could get his tax returns done. Our follow-up with the client was extensive - at least twenty inquiries were made to him to get the information to do the returns. After Mr. Balelo filed these three separate complaints at that site (why couldn't he have made just one complaint!?), we did prepare his tax returns for him and shipped all of his material UPS to him. We ultimately did NOT negotiate a solution to his tax problem as he filed for bankruptcy. In 2013 - Mr. Balelo - who had a reality show career after he worked us -- died in 2013 --Reality Show Star Dies.

YEAR 2006 AND 2007 - NO COMPLAINTS

YEAR 2008

3.  Pissed Consumer, Jan 1, 2008 - "Washington Tax Services" -- Illinois Analysis: UNKNOWN
We think that this client is real on Pissed Consumer.  But we couldn't identify him.  We asked him/her to call.  As of 2015 -- they still haven't called.

4. Pissed Consumer, Sept 5, 2008 - "Stay away from WA Tax Svc"   Penn. Analysis: REBUTTED
This is a bizarre complaint filed on Pissed Consumer.  Client posted this complaint in the middle of us doing the case.  Client got levied by IRS in September 2008. We had been asking the client to prepare his tax returns with us or on his own FROM NOVEMBER 2007 TO SEPTEMBER 2008 -- that is 11 months. You can't stop the IRS without filed returns. 11 months!!! Even more bizarre, the client continued to work with us after he made this complaint.  Pretty lame.  

YEAR 2009

5. Rip Off and Complaints Board- April 27, 2009 and Oct 21, 2009 -  "Washington Tax Disservices" South Carolina  Analysis: REBUTTED  This client - a Mr. Brooks G. - perpetrated fraud and tried to blame us for it. He complained at both Rip Off Report and Complaints Board and we responded to both. You can read a very very thorough rebuttal on the Complaints Board site if you wish.

6. Rip Off Report - May 5, 2009 - "Ripoff Dishonest Unprofessional"  West Virginia Analysis: UNKNOWN  We couldn't locate this client: Jane Lew - in our database. She filed her complaint at Rip Off Report.  We asked her to call us. As of 2015 - they have not called.

7. Rip Off Report - May 11, 2009 - "Very Willing to Accept Money..." Silver Spring, MD  Analysis: UNKNOWN  We couldn't locate this client in database and asked him to call.  He filed a complaint on Rip Off Report  As of 2015 - they have not called. 

8. Pissed Consumer - October 14, 2009 - "Jay at Wa Tax Services - Complete Fraud"   Analysis: RETRACTED  * Woman (Jay's client but no name given - Annette?) retracted the complaint, but not before calling me in her words:  "A COMPLETE FRAUD!"  Ouch!  We sent a letter to Pissed Consumer telling them to remove the complaint based on her wish to do so, but they didn't respond and so we filed a complaint against Pissed Consumer at their BBB record in North Carolina.  Apparently you have to sue the customer and can't sue Pissed Consumer: No Recourse for Victims of Pissed Consumer Site (We have wondered and surmised why this person complained and we have a few potential guesses: 1. we had her case placed in un-collectible status or in a payment plan but she really thought we were going to do an Offer (but she didn't qualify);  2. we told her to hold off on any action on her case until the IRS sent her an aggressive letter (as action would be counterproductive until then) and she didn't like that message? But we can only guess, as this person did NOT GIVE HER NAME -- except Annette - and believe me we have searched the database multiple times for this person and haven't been able to locate her. 

9. Pissed Consumer - October 20, 2009 - "Washington Tax Services"  Analysis:  UNKNOWN
His description of his case on Pissed Consumer seemed mildly plausible.  We asked him to call to discuss his issues.   As of 2014 - we still haven't heard from him. 

YEAR 2010 - NO INTERNET COMPLAINTS

YEAR 2011

10. Pissed Consumer March 10, 2011 - "Washington Tax Service" - Rochester, NY  Analysis: REBUTTED  A Mr. W of NY posted a complaint at Pissed Consumer complaining that we were "scammers" and might work out of a garage.  Our response:  They hired us in November 2010.  They were being pursued for a very old tax liability from 2001.  Tax liabilities eventually expire.  So we researched the client's record:  their two tax liabilities were going to expire in Sept 2011 and August 2012.  But we hoped that this client was a corporation, as the IRS may very well have missed the three year statute of limitation to assess the debt against them personally -- making these expiration dates meaningless. (However, if they were a sole proprietor or LLC they would not escape assessment, and the debt would truly expire at the dates listed above.)  The client insisted that they were a corporation in 2001. They were unable, however, to provide paperwork nor any proof to this effect. 

Finally, the IRS decided to pursue the taxpayer for the debt, as they were within the guidelines to do so.  As we were not able to prove they were a corporation AND the client had the ability to pay this $27,000 debt, we recommended that they make the effort to pay the debt while we work to get penalties off. Frustrated, the taxpayer worked directly with the IRS without us and paid the IRS.  Whether they achieved a penalty abatement on their own is still a question for us.

11. Pissed Consumer and Complaints Board -  March 31, 2011, April 12, 2011 and April 13, 2011  "Washington Tax Services is a Fraud."  Florida Analysis: REBUTTED   This client in Florida also posted three separate complaints at Pissed Consumer and Complaints Board. We responded to all of them. Our response:  "This client hired us in 2008 to represent his business on a 941 tax debt. That phase of his case lasted until mid-2009 when the client decided to file bankruptcy and dissolve the company. In 2010, the customer contacted us to address the trust fund taxes that were assessed against him personally (not dissolvable in bankruptcy).

Two years later after hiring us, and at NO extra charge, we helped him prepare an Offer in Compromise which is being processed by the IRS. When we saw this complaint online, we looked up our customer database and called this client and asked him why he filed a complaint. He claimed that we didn't tell him that the IRS takes the first and sometimes the 2nd tax refunds that come after the Offer was filed (This is clearly stated in our letter to client). Unfortunately, this is the law. When we explained this to him, he responded again with another addition to the internet complaint thread. At this point, we had to chalk this one up as a personality conflict.

We hope that the reader of this thread understands that we continued to work this client's case without an extra charge and ultimately his tax debt is in the process of being settled. We called and emailed him to say that it's hard to continue to represent him while the complaint remains out there. We requested that he at least post to say that we are continuing to represent him on the complaint thread.  As of July, it doesn't appear that he has done so. In 2011, we called the client and we mutually agreed to remove our Power of Attorney and the client would represent himself on his Offer in Compromise. 

12. Pissed Consumer August 2, 2011   "Refund Amount"  -- Los Alamos, New Mexico Analysis : REBUTTED The complainee indicates they paid us $1500 for services and we requested a continuation fee of $750. The extra fee was probably due to the case taking longer than one year to handle, a new issue that arose that was not included in the original fee, and/or the client not responding to a request for information that we had. Nonetheless, we asked the client to request a refund to us in writing and/or email.  Somehow - the client objected to that?

13. Pissed Consumer and Complaints Board , April 2011 and March 23, 2012:  "Waste of Money"  -- Saratoga, California. Analysis:  Maybe FAKE? This is one of two separate complaints filed by the same person. This person also complained at "Complaints Board" in April of 2011. Oddly the two complaints were spaced almost one year between them. We are about 98% positive the complaints were by the same person as he used the phrase "complete waste of money" and he verbally named "Jay Freeborne" and indicated an associate was involved who's work he was unhappy with. This person's case appeared to be a PENALTY ABATEMENT case ONLY. The customer was situated in California. We reviewed our files from 2009 to 2012 for California client's that met this criteria. In fact -- we called a number of them to see if the complainee was them. None of them indicated that they were. In 2015, we are still puzzled at who this complainee is?!

Nonetheless, this person was very personal about his problems: claiming Jay was great at "sales" but horrible at customer service and that ultimately, a fellowstaff member prepared poor and shoddy work for his penalty abatement case. As we said in our rebuttal, if this was a real person, - we would be happy to refund a portion of the fee that was paid if he/she would call us and lay claim to the two complaints against Washington Tax.  Are you out there?  Please call us if you really exist?  Thanks.

YEAR 2012

14. Rip Off Report - November 13, 2012 "He made promises..." Analysis: 100% FAKE COMPLAINT from Competitor.

A competitor posted a fake complaint at Rip Off Report.  He called Jay a "promise maker" that didn't release his wage garnishment nor honor his refund request:  a complete fabrication. This competitor also tried to post two separate complaints at the Better Business Bureau. But they knew better and threw them in the garbage.

Our rebuttal: Frankly, it is a shame to have to respond to this FAKE COMPLAINT from a COMPETITOR. If Rip Off Report had some kind of arbitration or fraud protection, we wouldn't have to write this rebuttal - they would just delete this false and anonymous complaint. But - Rip Off Report is F rated at the BBB for a reason: they benefit from more "eyeballs" and a complaint which tarnishes our company: get hits and more views. This fabrication was likely posted by a competitor in the Mountain Time Zone - Colorado probably -- who didn't like their company's portrayal in our blog -- taxresolutiontalk.com. Nonetheless, this is a "made-up" complaint - written also for search engine optimization - notice Jay's name is spelled out clearly as is our company.

But let's pretend that this complaint had some shred of truth in it...

A. We have no refund request that has been sent to us currently that we haven't responded to (in fact we rarely get refund requests). All refund requests are handled immediately as long the customer emails us or faxes us their request.

B. Wage garnishment removal? We spend all available man-power releasing wage garnishments or bank levies for that matter until the levy/garnishment is released. There are times when we are too late to save a bank levy. But wage garnishments are ongoing and permanent so it's difficult to say the least to abandon a client in this situation: they let us know - it hasn't been fixed. So this can't be true.

C. Jay's direct number 866 525 7302 which rings to his desk is available to all of his clients. He is not buried behind a receptionist and so all upset clients know how to reach me directly. If this really was a client - you could call him now and we would take full responsibility for their case and discuss a refund -- but it's not a real client. They would have called us by now.

Finally, it is painful to write this rebuttal as you might be able to tell.:) We don't take guarding our internet reputation lightly.

YEAR 2013 -

15. Pissed Consumer -April 10, 2013  Analysis: Responded.
Customer didn't qualify for an Offer in Compromise.  Was upset that we set him up in a payment plan.  Unfortunately - sometimes people don't qualify for Offers and we go for Plan B: an installment agreement and a request to waive penalties - as an alternative.

16. Pissed Consumer - Oct 28, 2013 - Pissed: Analysis: 100% FAKE Complaint from Competitor Whoever posted this complaint claimed that he took us to the "BBB." But that never happened - we have received four complaints at the BBB in the last three years and we resolved them all.  This case never made it there - which has us suspect: A FAKE COMPLAINT FROM A COMPETITOR.


YEAR 2014 - NO INTERNET COMPLAINTS

YEAR 2015 

17. Pissed Consumer - Oct 15, 2015 - Analysis: Responded
A Mr. M in Minnesota truly tried to make things up in an attempt to get a refund from us (No, we don't "stall" so customers lose their opportunity for a refund, etc.) We offered him a $750 refund from the get go (50% of his fee) but he would not take the offer. After we responded to the Pissed Consumer complaint and an Attorney General complaint, oddly - we have never heard from this guy again and in fact never refunded any of his fee.

YEAR 2016

18. Pissed Consumer - August 19, 2016 - Analysis: Resolved Positively
One of our staff members mistakenly entered the wrong "routing number" on a client's payment plan proposal (even though we ask customers to double-check the info before sending). This sent client in a bit of a "fit." We have spoken to this client and are now serving him at no extra-charge to do an Offer in Compromise.

YEAR 2017

19. Pissed Consumer, - October 17, 2017 - Analysis: Resolved Positively

When one of our tax preparers was on her annual vacation, client in TX was frustrated getting thru to us to get his returns done. Conversations were a bit heated. We called him to apologize after seeing this complaint. Since we've advised him how to resolve his tax issue - which was small - after he impulsively hired an expensive tax relief company after walking away from us. On November 1st - he wrote a nice comment about how we repaired our relationship with him on that site.

If you are reading this blog and you are one of the complainees, and want closure with us as we do: send us an email. One requirement is you will have to write a retraction on the internet complaint site if we come to resolution. Thank you, Staff of Washington Tax Services.

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