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The Almighty Buck

TurboTax Activation Fiasco 559

kurtinatlanta writes "Though the news broke in September, no one cares about tax return preparation software until January. Apparently Intuit's activation scheme for TurboTax will only allow you to print or file your returns from the computer on which you first installed it. The phrase "one computer" in their license literally means one computer. Moving the software (i.e. disk reformat, buy new computer) requires buying it again. There are all kinds of negative reviews on as a result. Is this problem real or overhyped?" There's a more recent story about the flap. The Intuit PR rep is quoted as saying that people can install the software on multiple computers using the same activation code, but I don't think an unworking installation really counts.
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TurboTax Activation Fiasco

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  • My take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) < minus poet> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:55PM (#5034326) Homepage Journal
    "Is this problem real or overhyped?"

    It's real. If I buy something, I damned well better be able to use it/reinstall it if my computer blows up.

    Think about it.
    • Re:My take (Score:3, Interesting)

      by banzai51 ( 140396 )
      I completely agree. The more negative publicity this generates, the better. Better idea: write to your local newspaper "cyber" journalist and ask them to look into what a hassle this is.
    • Re:My take (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't know. TurboTax is only good for one tax year, so the useage lifetime for the software is as long as it takes me to actually do my taxes, which is only a couple of days, if that. Not a very big window of opportunity for total system failure , IMHO. It's not like they're keying the O/S to your hardware via the Internet or anything.

      • Amended Returns (Score:4, Informative)

        by IsThisNickTaken ( 555227 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:32PM (#5034625) Homepage
        I have been a Turbo Tax user for the last 7 or 8 years. Several years ago I decided to change how I was handling depreciation on a rental property. I was able to reinstall my old copies of Turbo Tax and amend my tax returns. I had kept my .tax files around on my computer.

        While it is of limited use, some people do need to access/change previous tax returns. With the new product activation it sounds like I may have been screwed.
      • by Bowfinger ( 559430 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:43PM (#5034792)
        I don't know. TurboTax is only good for one tax year, so the useage lifetime for the software is as long as it takes me to actually do my taxes, which is only a couple of days, if that.

        But what if you get that audit letter from the IRS in two or three years? You may want to reinstall 2002 TurboTax so you can review your records, only to find that it won't work on your most recent PC.

        What if you simply need to file an amended return later this year? What if you lost your paper copy of your return and want to print another? What if you have trouble exporting your 2002 data to 2003 TurboTax, or maybe to a competing product without such an obnoxious copy protection mechanism?

        There are lots of scenarios where you might need to use this software long after your initial filing. It's too bad Intuit is adopting the same kind of customer-hostile philosophy pioneered by our beloved MPAA & RIAA.

    • Re:My take (Score:4, Insightful)

      by patbob ( 533364 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:32PM (#5034631)
      If I buy something, I damned well better be able to use it/reinstall it if my computer blows up.

      Mark me paranoid, but the info is my tax info. The program is as much a part of the archival data as the .tax file and the paper copies. If there's any question about how I came up with the answers on the paper form, I darn well better be able to install it on another computer so I can access the data and algorithms that went into the conclusion.

      Guess my complaint to them last September went unheeded. :-)

    • Re:My take (Score:3, Informative)

      I jsut bought a house this year and for mortgage approval I was required to show my last 3 years worth of tax returns which I had saved and printed on a different computer than I originally printed from. I guess I'm glad I use TaxCut instead.

  • Read the submission! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@anthon ... m ['in.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:57PM (#5034339) Homepage
    The Intuit PR rep is quoted as saying that people can install the software on multiple computers using the same activation code - the very thing that the activation process is supposed to prevent - so he is misquoted, misinformed, or lying.

    No, you can install on another machine, you just can't print or file your return from that machine. Installation and printing are completely different things last I checked.
    • Its always a conspiracy with michael, and you can't tell a conspiracy theorist there is no conspiracy.
      Just be glad you have under 500 comments, or else michael will just pass you off as a 'person that lives on slashdot and has no life.'
    • I'm really confused. You claimed that micheal wrote:
      The Intuit PR rep is quoted as saying that people can install the software on multiple computers using the same activation code - the very thing that the activation process is supposed to prevent - so he is misquoted, misinformed, or lying.
      But the in the article, micheal currently says:
      The Intuit PR rep is quoted as saying that people can install the software on multiple computers using the same activation code, but I don't think an unworking installation really counts.
      Everyone knows that changing stories without notification is a very, very bad practice, and an ethical editor like micheal would never stoop to such a low level.
      • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:09PM (#5035015) Homepage
        Everyone knows that changing stories without notification is a very, very bad practice, and an ethical editor like micheal would never stoop to such a low level.

        Moderation rears its ugly head again, I see you got an offtopic slap.

        Anyway, think of why this happens. Especially in a story like this, Slashdot (or the OSDN keiretsu) could be fully taken to court by Intuit because of misrepresentation of facts and loss of business related to that. Don't know the exact legal term, but I'd think it's somewhat akin to slander. Never mind that it doesn't really matter - TurboTax and the whole activation thing sucks. But it's different if it's plastered all over the front page for half a million people to see.

        Ergo, the "editorial byline" is fixed with alacrity. Very convenient.

        Hmmm. What's that I see in the distance? An offtopic bitchslap on this thread? Could it be? Yes!!

    • by MeNeXT ( 200840 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:46PM (#5034840)
      So according to you I can install MS Office on Linux, I just can't run it? Please! as far as I care, if it does not work as advertised it is not installed....

  • Use (Score:4, Informative)

    by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:57PM (#5034341) Homepage Journal
    The simple solution is to not use TurboTax. [] has always worked for me. And it's free.

    Or, pay an actual human being to do your taxes. I've never done it but I understand they know all about the loopholes and stuff.
    • My mother is a CPA...hence she does lots and lots and lots of returns. When it comes to filling out family returns and such (which she knows all the loopholes for) she finds it much easier and faster to fly through TurboTax's wizard, than to fill out the form. And she can jump to the form view (which is what I understand TaxAct shows) if she wants to make any additional changes.
    • Or, pay an actual human being to do your taxes. I've never done it but I understand they know all about the loopholes and stuff.

      We may know about some of the loopholes (although I wouldn't call them loopholes, then you'd be evading taxes), but most of them can't really help you until the next year. Of course, going with a professional might help ensure that you get all the deductions that you deserve. I'd hardly call that a loophole.

      Just don't go with H&R Block. They don't do very much more then act as typists into the software you can buy much more cheaply.

    • Re:Use (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tibbetts ( 7769 ) < minus herbivore> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:17PM (#5034490) Homepage Journal

      Or, pay an actual human being to do your taxes. I've never done it but I understand they know all about the loopholes and stuff.

      Amen to that! My wife and her family haven't filled out their own tax forms for many years. I used to laugh at their willingness to throw away Good Money, but after we got married and bought a house, I decided to do a bake-off between using TurboTax myself vs. their long-time wetware tax preparer. The result? TurboTax cost me $70 ($30 fed. + $20/each for two states), took about three hours to go through (and another couple of hours or so to print and proofread) and I got a refund of $x. The tax preparer cost $120, took 40 minutes, and got us a refund of $x + $400 via legit "loopholes" (things like moving costs, higher ed credits, etc.).

      If you need to fill out only a 1040EZ form, you definitely don't need TurboTax or a preparer, but if you have dependents or itemize deductions, I highly recommend going to a live person. (And no, IANATP.)

    • Re:Use (Score:2, Informative)

      by nolife ( 233813 )
      I have used this also. In fact I was just there today to see if they ready yet for this year. Last year I initially used the free version that you are referring too but broke down and bought the deluxe version that comes with one state and free electronic filing for both. Not bad for $19.99 and no damn rebates to wait for. looks like a decent option also.
  • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:57PM (#5034342) Journal
    I bet G. Cooke from Texas [] would give it a positive review!
    • Re:One good review (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jonathanclark ( 29656 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:26PM (#5034582) Homepage
      Why do I have the feeling that a lot of these negative comments are made by a competing company? Most of the dates are Jan 4. It would be interesting to see Amazon's IP logs for all the post. I know this wouldn't be the first case of posting fake reviews (both positive and negative). No doubt many of the comments are real, it's a legit issue - but I think it's been overhyped by competition. My guess is it's someone from TaxCut.

      Look at this review:

      Christopher R Chirdon from Pittsburgh, PA USA
      I was reading reviews here when I really checked into the online activation stuff. But someone was concerned if you could import your 2001 "" file from TurboTax 2001 into TaxCut 2002 and the answer is YES! I bought TaxCut because I want to prepare on my personal computer and then take it to work to print on my laser printer, but I don't want to have to buy 2 licenses. Also, it's just SUCH a hassle. The funny thing is, I don't think taxCut uses ANY type of authentication. I put the CD in and it never asked me for a serial or anything, just a box that said "Is this a legal copy? Y/N".
      In a nutshell, if you are concerned about buying TaxCut 2002 and importing your TurboTax 2001 goo, don't be. It went right in for me, and the program seems to be every bit as good as TurboTax. It doesn't have that annoying "da dum dum, da dum da" musical intro that always bothered me either... ;)
    • Re:One good review (Score:3, Informative)

      by cybercuzco ( 100904 )
      Actually, there are 4 reviews that give the produect a 5. Two of them are top 500 reviewers and a third is in the top 1500. All of the good reviews are within the first few days of the products release and they all sound like they could have come from the back of the box.
  • Alternative? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:58PM (#5034344) Journal
    OK -

    I'm finally gonna switch because of this but my big question is, which competing product would be best to go with and why?

  • by myawn ( 562028 ) <mike.theYawns@com> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:58PM (#5034350) Homepage
    I think the rep is right that you can install it anywhere you like, and fill out forms and such. It's only the 'print' and 'electronically file' functions that are locked to the initial system where you installed.

    Misleading, perhaps, but not an outright falsehood.

  • Just do it online! (Score:3, Informative)

    by HTMLSpinnr ( 531389 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @02:59PM (#5034356) Homepage
    Save the hassle and do it online. No install, can do it from anywhere you have browser access.
  • Pencil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Borf ( 18392 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:00PM (#5034363)
    Then there's always an alternate use for your hand... that's right! Doing taxes manually. On paper. Think of doing taxes as learning a braindead API for interfacing with the goverment.

    I rather like it.

    Smell of cedar and graphite. A little calculator, a big rule book. Lots of nice little numbers.
    • Doing taxes manually. On paper

      I like doing it manually as well, but there's a major delay doing it by hand. You have to mail it in, then someone needs to physically open and work the forms and stuff. E-file is quick.. like receiving your return in a couple days quick.

      To each his own.
      • Re:Pencil (Score:4, Informative)

        by cheezedawg ( 413482 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:45PM (#5034825) Journal
        like receiving your return in a couple days quick

        You do realize that if you get a refund when you file your taxes, that basically means you just gave the government an interest free loan, right? The trick is to withhold as little as possible during the year so you either break even or owe a little bit on April 15 (not enough to get an underpayment penalty, of course). Then your money is YOURS throughout the whole year, and you can save it and invest it anyway you like the whole time.
  • by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:02PM (#5034383) Journal
    Last year I needed to file a 1040 for the first time. Usually I just go for the 1040EZ, but I had a few items I needed to use the 1040 for. Ok, whatever.

    I was looking for a good e-file solution, so I found Turbotax online. For $10 you can file your 1040, no software to install, it's a secure java applet. Cool. I spent a good 45 minutes filling everything out, triple checking my numbers, submitted it, life was good.

    Three weeks later, I get an envelope from the IRS.

    It seems that Turbotax f#@%ed up my taxable income, and stiffed me $320 on my federal return. The IRS fixed it and sent me a check for the difference, but I was still ticked. I printed off all the info and studied it carefully. All the data I put in was right. I ran the numbers manually, and what do you know, my taxable income was lower, and when I comp[uted the tax table I found the missing $320.

  • Possible Solution? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saider ( 177166 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:02PM (#5034385)
    Here's what I do for nazi software - Run it in a VMWare virtual machine. As far as the program is concerned it is running on the same computer.

    The only trick is you need to have VMWare ($300).
    • by hedley ( 8715 )

      Not with Safecast2 you won't be. It detects VMware as a debugger. :(

      Safecast2 is a product from our perennial /. favorite Macrovision.

  • I sent e-mails to Intuit and Macrovision this weekend, asking how to disable/remove their spyware after I was done with TurboTax this year. Surprise, surprise; I haven't received a response.

    I'm using something else next year.

  • I've been using TurboTax since '86. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of the old DOS based program. I mean their first attempt at Windows was nearly as maddening as the tax code itself.

    As for having to buy an install for each and every computer. Yeah, well, while it takes wild horses to refrain me from doing my taxes more than once on multiple machines, this policy sucks. Mostly because upgrades happen. Considering TurboTax can be purchased back in September for the purposes of tax planning, what happens to the poor schmuck who gets a new computer between then and April 15?

    Another scenario. Offline storage. In the past, after I've done my taxes, I burn a backup onto CD and remove the product. Then when tax time comes around, I reinstall it so I can activate an upgrade. So much for doing that this year.

    Good thing I'm going to wait till the night before. I don't even like the pig on one machine. Perhaps its time for this long time user to find a new tax package.

  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:04PM (#5034402)
    It was coming up with that I would need to pay in $500 federal tax. I freaked, naturally. Went to H&R Block, they did my taxes correctly, and I ended up paying in (even after you add in the H&R Block costs) less than what TurboTax said I owed in!

    Learn from me: go to a tax prep specialist and stay the hell away from do-it-yourself software solutions.
    • Careful with this advice. Some of the tax shops use this exact same or similiar software to do your taxes for you.

      Perhaps rephrase it... "go to a reputable tax prep specialist and stay the hell away from do-it-yourself software solutions."
  • Damn.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by dallask ( 320655 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ajninedoc}> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:05PM (#5034407) Homepage
    I guess this means that I cant download and rip a copy of TurboTax so that I can lie on my tax returns while burning it for family????

  • CrossTrainer (exercise software) has the same type of scheme. I have to email them to unlock the software whenever I install on a new pc (or os install, for that matter).

    Pissed me off to no end - if I had realized this was the case before, I never would have bought it.

  • What I'd like to see (Score:4, Interesting)

    by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:07PM (#5034418) Homepage
    I don't care if it's character based, but it would be cool if the IRS did a tax application that was simply self-calculating and linked so the totals from worksheet forms carry over to the tax form.

    I don't need FinanceChick and TaxDude giving me video advice. I just need the instructions, the forms, and a way to save while I go out back and beat up on the shed, woodpile or a bear when I get to the "Your income tax due (or your refund)" line...

    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:31PM (#5034617)
      The IRS has made rumblings that unless the tax software industry gets their act together, the IRS will start work on an "official" tax product that would likely be impossible to compete with.

      The state of MA has already done this, with an easy-to-use web interface (over HTTPS, of course) that puts the state edition of TurboTax to shame. MA doesn't have that complex of a tax code anyway, so there really isn't much for software to do in the first place besides data entry and transmission.
    • The only problem is that the software, necessarily, will not be creative when dealing with your unique tax situation. That's what a good CPA is for: knowing things such as if you're willing to forget about claiming a deduction for that $20 donation to the EFF, then you qualify for a $137.23 tax credit under the Diggle Act of 1965. A program will cheerfully let you claim a $20 deduction at the cost of missing a greater savings elsewhere.

      Is it utterly ridiculous that our tax code is so difficult? Absolutely! However, we're pretty much stuck with it for the foreseeable future, so you may as well make the best of it.

  • Well isn't this going to be fun? What happens 2 years from now when I have a new machine and an audit which requires me to try and install and print my old taxes?

    You know, I'll never understand why companies feel they need to "break something that works..." TurboTax has dominated the Tax Software market. Now what they're doing is encouraging us to look elsewhere. I know I will!
  • by asscroft ( 610290 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:07PM (#5034426)
    I usually print and file from the same machine at which I installed anyway. This only has two impacts

    1. You can no longer get the friends and family pack, so what, it's $20.00 and is super easy way to do your taxes. How many accountants charge $20.00 for you, and your friends, and your parents. Give it up, the free ride is over.

    2. Audits from the IRS go back 7 years. If I have a new computer in 7 years I won't be able to reprint this years return. So much for the "store my tax info on CD". I'm stuck with Paper as my only record keeping. That removes one of the benefits of using a computer program in the first place.
    • Audits from the IRS go back 7 years. If I have a new computer in 7 years I won't be able to reprint this years return. So much for the "store my tax info on CD". I'm stuck with Paper as my only record keeping. That removes one of the benefits of using a computer program in the first place.

      Ummm.. You're a little bit off on this. The IRS can only go back three years and audit you. That is unless they suspect you of comitting fraud, then they can go back as far as they damn well please. You're better off keeping copies of your returns indefinitely. The Motley Fool has a nice guide [] on how long to keep stuff.

      Personally, I'd keep both the paper and electronic media.


  • easier to read... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eil ( 82413 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:07PM (#5034429) Homepage Journal

    Here is a printable version [] of the article that contains less spam and is easier to read.
  • Is this problem real or overhyped?"

    I've used Turbo Tax since 1993. I do the work at home and then come to work and install the software for 1 whole day just to print it out on a laser printer.

    Why? I don't trust the water soluble inks in my inkjet at home, and I don't want my personal info on my work computer for any length of time.

    And I bet there are lots of people who do the exact same thing as I do.
    • Solution: since you can install it on any number of machines, but can only print from the first machine you install from: install first on office computer. Don't put any info on you office computer until ready to file. Install on home computer and enter all information. Bring that information to your office computer to print. Simple solution.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) < minus distro> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:09PM (#5034440) Homepage Journal
    ... ack offtopic a little bit, but not really ...

    TurboTax for the Web [] will let you electronically file your taxes for free. The catch?? You have to file ONLY the 1040-EZ and make less than $25K, but since that's what I've filed the last 5 years, it's no real problem for me (yeah being a student!). If you want to file a 1040 or 1040A it's something like $10.00. But they will do your state and federal taxes online and submit them electronically.

    Why would this matter to /.? Well because for the last 2 years I've used it with netscape on linux with no troubles at all. So now you can do your taxes for free with linux electronically and get a refund in around 2 days.

    So don't sit there for hours and do it with the "easy to follow IRS workbook" or load windows up to use a windows only program, or go pay someone far too much money to do it for you, do them online cheaply.

    Best way to get around the registration hassle of software is to not use the software that requires you to register it.

  • Unless you have lots of investments, it's not that difficult. All I have is 2 bank accounts, so I just do the 1040 with no attachments. By next year I'll be itemizing deductions (what with the house payment) but that's not difficult either. Keep all your deductible receipts in a box and pull tham out in January.
  • go with taxcut (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlong ( 160620 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:13PM (#5034464)
    I've used TurboTax I guess for the last 4 or 5 years. This year as I was getting ready to buy it I checked out and saw all the negative reviews and decided not get it as I have 4 computers in my house. So I decided to get TaxCut. I bought it from Staples but you can get it from It costs less than TurboTax and it can even import all the data from last year's TurboTax. Not only that but (at least at there are tons of rebates on different products if you buy TurboTax ($30 off money, willpower free, home and business attorney free, mcafee free, norton personal firewall or antivirus free, checksoft express free, deduction pro free, etc.
  • I don't understand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tyrani ( 166937 )
    Why are tax software companies trying to make people pay like this? I don't understand what makes companies like quicken, intuit and Microsoft any different.

    Tax laws change every year. I'd be more then happy to pay a small amount each year for the latest updates. It costs them money to integrate the changes and update the software that I've already bought for $30.

    I think they're banking on people reasoning that they would be paying an accountant.
  • CommentAnticipator predicts:
    • "This is yet another example of evil corporate blah blah blah blah blah.."
    • "Won't corporations ever learn blah blah blah..."
    • In soviet russia, TurboTax activates you!
    • Let's start a boycott / return campaign ....
    • "this is an example of how free markets work. They clamp down too hard on their customers this time, they'll pay next time." (oh, wait, no, that's too enlightened).
    • Turbotax sucks anyway, I always use {alternate product}.
    • (generic Turbotax efiling horror story)
    • general carping about various turbotax ("home", "small business") editions.
    • Some handwaving / slippery slope argumentation that attempts to imply that since some DRM technology is faulty, it must all be doomed to fail / evil.
    • Some immature claims that any DRM technology is hackable.
    • Requests for turbotax crackZ. But, of course, they're not called that here, as this is gentile slashdot.
    • A reasonable response or two that DRM technology need not be 100% foolproof to be effective. This is modded down to -2, troll.
    • MS-bashing, Palladium flavour.
  • by Eagle7 ( 111475 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:13PM (#5034470) Homepage
    I love this comment:

    Quality Control?, January 4, 2003
    Reviewer: Ex-long time user from Hernando, MS United States
    I purchased TurboTax Deluxe for the fourth year in a row this year. When I went to install the program from the CD it turned out to be an AUDIO CD OF MEXICAN MUSIC! Bizarre.
    • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:29PM (#5034609)
      I'd seriously call support, and have them walk me through an installation. In fact, I'd weedle my way to 2nd or 3rd tier if I could before I got to the actual inserting-the-cd bit. And I'd have to turn auto-run on too. That would be a key feature of the support session: "Ok, I inserted the CD and now there's like carnival music or something coming out of my speakers! Does TurboTax come with a soundtrack?"

      Feh. The only kind of music I want to hear when doing taxes is the Muzak in the lobby of my CPA. Try taking the TurboTax software packaging to tax court with you and see how much it helps.

      Dental work and accounting: two things you should never do by yourself, for yourself.


  • by tstoneman ( 589372 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:17PM (#5034493)
    Don't buy Turbotax 2002. They install malware/"Copy protection" called C-Dilla but don't tell you about it. I don't even care about the product activation stuff, it's this spyware/malware shit that they secretly installed without telling me that really pissed me off.

    Here [] is a link to a forum talking about C-dilla.

    Don't make the same mistake I did and delete a directory called "C:\C_DILLA". I did, and my computer froze upon startup. Apparently C-dilla is a service that requires this directory to be there otherwise it barfs on you.

    I didn't know what it was, and thought it might be related to Mozilla (Mozilla, Bugzilla, Chatzilla, etc). I deleted it, and upon reboot, my system froze during startup. After troubleshooting my frozen machine for around 1/2 an hour, the missing directory turned out to be the problem, along with these mysterious services that I didn't remember installing. I guess the service hung while looking for the directory and froze my entire system.

    I went to uninstall Turbotax and it doesn't uninstall C-dilla. I asked Intuit Live Chat support how to remove C-dilla and they told me to delete the C_DILLA directory and reboot. I told them what would happen, but they said that's what to do. After I did it, and it froze again, they said there was nothing they could to and to contact my system administrator/vendor to fix the freeze. Thanks.

    They have a 60-day return policy. USE IT. Tell all your friends and co-workers not to buy Turbotax. I was a loyal Turbotax purchaser since 1997 and I am now going to switch because I no longer trust them. Why did they install this shit on my computer without telling me, and fuck everything up?

    They have completely lost my trust, and there is nothing they can do to get it back, that's for sure.

  • This is just a corporate software screwup.

    People are getting yelled at, people are busting their asses to fix this, meanwhile a C student flak is screwing up in the media. No big deal.

    This will resolve itself realsoonnow and when it does the corp will make a big fuss to make everyone understand it's ok.

  • I typically buy and use TurboTax, but do not have a laser printer at home, so I do all my taxes at home and e-file from home and then print out the paper forms at work with a quality laser printer. That method would no longer work with the new licensing scheme, despite it definitely falling under "reasonable use" in my opinion.

    However, I did figure out a method that would be basically as good. With a non-activated version you can still fill in your taxes entirely, you just cannot file or print them. So, install the software at home BUT DO NOT ACTIVATE IT. Fill out your taxes entirely. Then when you are done, install and activate on your work machine, and e-file and print from there.

    Not quite as convenient as before, but basically the same.

    (And as an added bonus, if you want to piss off Intuit and show them the flaw of their ways, then make copies of the CD and give them to all of your coworkers and have them all file their taxes from your computer! I don't even think that could be illegal, since unlike most software, having the CD is not a "right to use", so making a copy of the CD is in essence just a shareware version of the software that a user who wanted to file on their own would still need to pay for, and the software provides them the method internally. Good method of civil disobedience... Let's see who can file the most returns on one bought copy of TurboTax!)

  • First post from Safari []!
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:22PM (#5034545)
    It's a scam that the govt. doesn't set up its own website for electronic filing. It would save a whole lot of tax dollars, both in printing and mailing those thick filing booklets, and probably more importantly, it costs less to process electronic filings.

    My county set up electronic renewal of vehicle licensing. It's just a simple web form, nothing fancy, and couldn't have cost much to set up. Yet it's highly effective and they encourage it because it saves them manpower and tax money, not to mention thousands of hours of people waiting in line at the DMV.

    There was a movement for this a year or two ago, but Quicken et. al. lobbied against it and offered reduced-cost filing for poor people to appease lawmakers. As a result, we are stuck paying extra to private companies to file tax returns in a way that should save everybody time and money.

  • Anyone remember the flap over 1-2-3 key disks? No one ever learns anything.
  • by release7 ( 545012 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:27PM (#5034590) Homepage Journal
    Getting/installing/using software is becoming more and more of a headache for consumers every day. Once an average Joe loses an activiation key or has to go through the hassle trying to figure out how to use a new one, they'll just forget about using the software and come away with a bad experience. Who the hell has the time to wade through this BS [] just to figure out what your rights are for using the software? I just want to be able to pop the disk in my drive and have the thing run when I need it to run. Things get really maddening when you are dealing with a dozen applications, each with their own procedures and policies.

    The most frustrating is the powerless feeling it gives a user. People will come to HATE software because of the frustration and agony of not being able to control something they feel they own. This will make consumer less reluctant to throw down $100 or $200 bucks for their next software purchase. Not good. Someone needs to find a better way.

  • Below is a transcript of my chat with online support. They were very helpful in easing my fears of product activation. I have bought (and deducted) the tax software and I love how it makes my tax time less arduous. Hopefully, tech support will live up to their claims of transerability [] should I upgrade my computer... which I will. I still like H&R Block's approach better, but I am a little more at ease now. Please read on...


    You have been connected to G. Cylon.
    G. Cylon: Hello John, how may I help you today?
    John Peterson: hi, i read an article today on about intuit's product activation for turbo tax. i am a long time customer and i am worried about computer upgrades and my use of turbo tax.
    John Peterson: I do not want to pay for the product twice and that is what I am worried about.
    G. Cylon: You shouldn't have to pay for the product more than once after it's installed and activated okay on the first computer
    John Peterson: ok, lets say I upgrade my computer, which I often do... how is product activation handled there?
    John Peterson: I do plan on upgrading my computer within the next month or two, but I also want to start on my taxes ASAP
    G. Cylon: Upgrading the computer shouldn't affect product activation unless the harddrive is changed
    John Peterson: ok, if there is a dispute can i fax in a receipt of my purchase?
    G. Cylon: Can you give me a moment to check it please
    John Peterson: thank you
    John Peterson: I hope you understand my concern. I am a hardcore computer user and I often change out components of my hardware. In addition, I own my own business and I love how your software makes it easier for me to file my taxes accurately. It used to be a nightmare to compute all the deductions. However, this new product activation has me very worried that my software is not really mine and that I will be forced a "double taxation" on my tax software. If this happens, I can guarantee I will no longer purchase your product. This will be a sad event for me because I love your product, and I have used it for over three years.
    John Peterson: I understand the need to reduce piracy, but I'm worried I will be falsely targeted.
    G. Cylon: Yeah i know what you mean, but the product shouldn't be affected
    G. Cylon: unless for major hardware change
    John Peterson: It would make me much more comfortable if I could speak with a product activation specialist to make sure there aren't any loop holes.
    G. Cylon: Can you give me a moment please
    John Peterson: ok
    G. Cylon: only changing hard drives will cause you to be asked to reactivate.
    John Peterson: ok, so if i upgrade my hard drive i cannot transfer the license?
    G. Cylon: If that should happen,you should just contact us with the original date you installed on the old hard drive and we will be able to get you activated again.

    John Peterson: hey, thats great!
    John Peterson: now, i would also like the number for an activation specialist so i can confirm this.
    John Peterson: the price of the software is usually around $75 so its not something I want to throw away
    G. Cylon: I don't have a number for a PA specialist.
    John Peterson: ok, i'll look around then
    G. Cylon: But that is what our business rules say and you confirmed it with my supervisor
    John Peterson: ok
    G. Cylon: i've confirmed*
    John Peterson: gotcha :)
    John Peterson: Thank you for your time.
    G. Cylon: but if there is any problem quote this case id *******
    John Peterson: Thank you once again. Take care.
    G. Cylon: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting our TurboTax Support Chat.
  • Not entirely true... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 ) <jeffshannon&hotmail,com> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:32PM (#5034624) Homepage
    Moving the software (i.e. disk reformat, buy new computer) requires buying it again.

    This is not what the article said. The original installer only has to hang on to the key and activation code and they can reinstall it on a new PC. It may sound like a pain in the ass but you can just keep this info with your tax records that you have to keep anyway.

    I guess people are just pissed they can't split the cost of one copy of the program with their friends and family anymore.
  • by Matey-O ( 518004 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:40PM (#5034739) Homepage Journal
    Why is this even an issue?

    If the IRS gets all of this information, (and it does , it's used to doublecheck your return) why do we even HAVE the other half of this industry?

    IMHO, you ought be able to log into the IRS website, it should say 'We have this and this and this in your records, you should owe X'

    At which point _you_ could add: "But I have this and this extenuating circumstance."

    The IRS would then recalculate and your income tax fileing would consist of ONLY those things that are different and unusual, with the assumption that since you didn't change any earnings info, you must agree with what the IRS has.

    If my HR dude enters my W-2 info once. And his software sends it to the IRS, why do _I_ have to rekey it each time? Why do I need to rekey the numbers AT ALL?

    • by base3 ( 539820 )
      I attended a presentation about e-government initatives at which an IRS representative spoke about this issue. This was three years ago, but the gentleman said that the IRS had no intention of offering its own electronic filing, primarily because of industry pressure.
  • by release7 ( 545012 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:41PM (#5034756) Homepage Journal
    Copied from ult.asp?platform=1&formName=&pd=&fs=&ver=&sku=&Doc ID= []

    Do I need to activate TurboTax again if I reinstall the program? Whether or not you need to reactivate TurboTax (that is, purchase an additional product license) depends upon your particular situation:

    If you reinstall TurboTax to the same hard disk that it was previously activated on, you do not need to activate it again.

    If you install TurboTax on another computer, you need to activate it again only if you want to print or electronically file your tax return from that computer.

    Example: You activated TurboTax on your home computer and attempt to electronically file your tax return, but for some reason you start to experience problems with your Internet connection. The next day, you install TurboTax on your computer at work, along with a copy of your tax file. In order to electronically file your tax return from your work computer, you must activate TurboTax on your work computer. Note: If you need to reinstall an activated copy of TurboTax on another computer because of a hard disk failure, or if you are reinstalling an activated copy of TurboTax on a newly purchased computer or hard disk, please contact a live agent to obtain a second activation code.

    If you install TurboTax on another computer without activating it, you can make changes to your tax return using the EasyStep Interview, but you will not be able to print, electronically file, use the Forms Method, view tax forms, or save your tax file as a .pdf file from that computer.

    Example: After activating TurboTax, you electronically file your tax return and print copies of the return for your records. Shortly thereafter, you replace your original computer with a new one. You install TurboTax on the new computer in case you need to refer to your 2002 tax file, but you do not intend to electronically file or print your return again. In this case, you do not need to activate TurboTax on your new computer. Product Activation lets you print or electronically file tax returns from any computer that TurboTax is activated on; it does not prevent installing the program on another computer.

  • Spyware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:53PM (#5034922) Homepage
    Here's [] a nice overview of spyware. Point your non-techie friends/co-workers/family/pets to articles like this one so they "get" what spyware is and what it's not, and explain to them why they should avoid it.

    Gator for example claims millions of "satisfied customers" - in my experience they have millions of victims who don't know how the crap got into their computers in the first place and no clue as to how to remove it. But I guess that's a valid "installed base".

    As for C-Dilla, I don't think it's spyware (not in the classic definition anyway), but regardless of that TurboTax is no longer welcome on my computer, and I happen to be a 5 year satisfied user. There's absolutely no fucking way I'm going to live with a resident executable living in my system hooking processes to see if they are "protected". Intuit can smooch my bootay. I'm going with TaxCut for 2002.

    I hope the company rents a clue from this, and I hope their sales fall through the basement and they fix it for 2003. If they do, I'll buy it again.

  • by Texodore ( 56174 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @03:58PM (#5034939)
    Supposedly, TurboTax now contains C-DILLA, which is spyware. If you search around the net, such as the aforemention fatwallet forum or amazon reviews, there are reports that CD burners don't work as well as they used to. You can't just delete the C-DILLA directory - it gets recreated or will hose your system. Installing TurboTax doesn't warn you it will be installed And uninstalling TurboTax doesn't remove it.

    Yeah, the activation is annoying, and I would live with that. But I'm not getting TurboTax for this reason.

    From the article:

    Customers are also complaining about Safecast, the Macrovision security software Intuit uses to verify activation numbers. Reports have surfaced in discussion groups and some news sites classifying Safecast--also known as C-Dilla for the company that provided the technology to Macrovision--as "spyware," programs surreptitiously installed on a PC that track and report how the PC is used. Spyware programs such as Gator and Brilliant Digital have prompted growing concern among PC users.
  • by hklingon ( 109185 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:02PM (#5034974) Homepage
    I am a college student and part time computer consultant. We all know how that goes. The thing is, I've helped many clients upgrade their QuickBooks, Quicken and other Intuit products over the past several months. Let me relate to you only one of them:

    Client has Quickbooks 6.0. It must be about 4 years old, or so. It is cumbersome and annoying to update the Tax table/rate codes. They use it for payroll, accounts recievable, accounts payable. Though it is a family business, it is broken into several files for manage-ability. (Legally) They have several companies set up-- and some companies are seasonal. (e.g. Yard work). From what I understand, there are federal and state tax advantages, if you have several small companies that work together. Anyway, there are about 3 employees that manage the books for 15 or so company files.

    Trouble: When we upgraded from QB6.0 to QB2003, the "upgrade" did not count QB6.0 as valid. We were on hold for over 90 minutes, and finally got through to a rep, that told us we had to fax them a recipt for the QB2003 as well as a recipt for the QB6.0 from 4 years ago. (We had QB6.0 serial numbers, correspondence, etc, no good. The client had been a quicken gold support (or whatever) member for the past 4 years, up until about 6 months prior to the upgrade. They could find no trace of us in the system, and only a recipt for QB6.0 would do. They claimed they couldn't find us even though they'd mailed tax table updates a few months prior as well as a "you must upgrade to QB2002 right now because we no longer support 6.0" -- with QB2003 due out soon we decided to wait the 4 (or so) months to get the newest version. They were told QB6.0 would count for the QB2003 upgrade when they explicitly asked (at my instruction). Anyway, about 4 days later they were able to activate qb2003 with a replacement keycode, but only after faxing them both the recipts, cover of the manual and serial numbers. Did I mention we bought directly from the intuit website? As if that wasn't enough, a few days later they went to do payroll. It wouldn't let them until it went online and updated-- which it could not do because it could not verify subscription status. When done manually, after being on hold for 108 minutes, the rep said it was good for only one company file. My client would have to pay per-company. I think the "accountant edition" might side step this somehow, but it was difficult getting straight answers. We chatted with a rep on the website as well as phoned in months prior and went over the situation in detail. We ordered what they recommended. We've also discovered some features they had in QB6.0, though rudimentary, are pay-for in QB2003. It has been an extremely painful upgrade.

    Though this client only had 4 QB computers, this was probably the most painful upgrade ever. The other experiences I've had with intuit proably aren't this bad, but they're not exactly great either.
  • by HealYourChurchWebSit ( 615198 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @04:13PM (#5035049) Homepage
    If I were H&Rj, I'd get a Linux version of TaxCut out the door ASAP. Think about it. Many of us who are going to change are the same types who are/want to switch to Open Office and Linux because of similar tactics employed by Microsoft and ther XP O/S. It seem to me that there would be a very willing market that would be very difficult for TurboTax to pursue unless it drops it's own activation schems.
  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @05:06PM (#5035289) Homepage Journal

    How does this benefit me?
    With product activation, Intuit can provide faster, more efficient support for TurboTax customers. Without technology to ensure compliance with our License Agreement, TurboTax customers who legitimately purchase the product wait longer for support because of increased contacts from users seeking support for unlicensed software.

    eh? Thousands of users calling support to deal with product activation issues are going to make it easier for me to get support?

  • by Whip ( 4737 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2003 @07:53PM (#5035991)
    I've been trying to post this "review" to Amazon for a couple of days, but there seems to be something wrong with their comment posting code. So here's MY experience with TurboTax 2002

    [amazon posting starts here]
    I won't reiterate many of the points made by other reviewers on amazon -- I'll just summarize the reviews as "good software, but the copy protection sucks".

    I had the copy protection suck more than most. I dual boot WindowsXP and Linux, using the "GRUB" bootloader (which is currently used now by, among others, RedHat linux), and installing TurboTax 2002 made my entire computer unbootable! The activation code writes some information to the front of the harddrive (before the first partition), which overwrote my bootloader, which was already living there! (This may happen with other bootloaders as well... I've only tested with the one).

    And fixing my system so it would boot again (by reinstalling the bootloader) produced a copy of TurboTax that a) thought it wasn't activated, and b) Thought that my productid had already been used "by another computer", so couldn't be re-activated.

    Intuit did eventually give me another product ID that worked, after I spent several hours trying to explain the problem to tech support, and rebooting time and time again as the reps had me uninstall, reinstall, install in safe mode, install while standing on my head...

    The software itself is OK (Though I still wish it could import from Quicken based on the "class" of the transactions), but I have the strong opinion that installing tax software should not render my computer unbootable!

Forty two.