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Tax Program Develops An Insulting Approach - TurboTax installs Spyware
The Wall Street Journal ^ | Thursday, January 30, 2003 | WALTER S. MOSSBERG

Posted on 01/30/2003 8:12:59 AM PST by TroutStalker

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:48:02 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

The top two software packages for tax preparation have been largely static in their core features and user interfaces for years, but you'll notice a new attitude toward customers from one of the publishers this time around.

The programs are nearly identical, and in my annual reviews of H&R Block's TaxCut and TurboTax by Intuit I have mainly noted changes in ancillary features, and in the proliferation of various editions and versions that seem inspired more by marketing than by functionality.


(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


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1 posted on 01/30/2003 8:13:00 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
Thanks for posting this info! Tax Cut it will be this year!
2 posted on 01/30/2003 8:15:12 AM PST by octobersky
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To: TroutStalker
Question I have: I have used TurboTax forever. Can those files be transferred to TaxCut?
3 posted on 01/30/2003 8:19:04 AM PST by VMI70
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To: octobersky
I had already purchased TurboTax, but at least you can now uninstall SafeCast. As a loyal customer Intuit, thanks a lot!
4 posted on 01/30/2003 8:19:12 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: octobersky
im thinkin' the same.
5 posted on 01/30/2003 8:19:51 AM PST by smith288
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To: VMI70
I'm fairly sure you can transfer files. I recently switched from Quicken to MS Money and the import was flawless on eight and a half years of data.
6 posted on 01/30/2003 8:20:56 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
I have been using TaxCut for many years. I almost decided to give TurboTax a try. Glad I stuck with TaxCut.
7 posted on 01/30/2003 8:21:02 AM PST by FR_addict
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To: VMI70
Yes, TaxCut will transfer all your information from prior Turbo Tax files.
8 posted on 01/30/2003 8:23:06 AM PST by Kryptonite
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To: Kryptonite
Great--TaxCut it is--I hope the good folks at Intuit read this thread.
9 posted on 01/30/2003 8:24:04 AM PST by VMI70
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To: VMI70
I'm sure they got the message from Mossberg's WSJ column.
10 posted on 01/30/2003 8:25:51 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
I've purchased TurboTax also, but this info appeared in Jerry Pournelle's column in Byte the day I bought it. I just took it back unopened. First time in many, many years that I won't be using TurboTax.
11 posted on 01/30/2003 8:26:40 AM PST by jammer (We are doing to ourselves what Bin Laden could only dream of doing.)
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To: octobersky
I have used TurboTax for probably close to 15 years now and will continue to do so despite Mr. Mossberg's misgivings. No tax prep software is simple. There are tricks and techniques to using this stuff, and none of the things he points out, valid though they may be, is, to me, worth the emotional cost of starting over to learn a new system. Also, my returns, though they may be more complicated than those of many taxpayers, tend to be very similar year to year. The loss of the ability to download data from last year's return (which I assume would happen if I changed systems) would be another big minus for me. I have already installed TurboTax for 2002, federal plus three states. The installation was very simple and didn't take more than a few minutes.

I do agree with his comments about the "enhanced" versions of TurboTax. I think the basic version is just fine.

12 posted on 01/30/2003 8:27:17 AM PST by blau993
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To: TroutStalker
This is old news.
13 posted on 01/30/2003 8:29:13 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: TroutStalker
And I recently found TurboTax Deluxe at Sam's club for a lot less than I paid buying it direct from TurboTax as a repeat customer. Really pissed me off.
14 posted on 01/30/2003 8:33:16 AM PST by johnandrhonda
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To: Sir Gawain
I did a search on this and didn't find any articles posted here on it.
15 posted on 01/30/2003 8:37:26 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: johnandrhonda
I have been buying from Sam's for several years now and Intuit keeps sending me emails for their higher priced copies.
16 posted on 01/30/2003 8:38:48 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: VMI70
When you register Taxcut, they present you with a questionairre. I let them know that I bought Taxcut only because of TurboTax's spyware.
17 posted on 01/30/2003 8:39:00 AM PST by dangermouse
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To: TroutStalker; Bush2000; Poohbah
More spying defeated. Intuit should know better than to try it. The real pirates weren't going to fall for any lame ancient C-Dilla spy scheme anyway. Hard to believe Intuit was stupid enough to think this would go unnoticed. They've given themselves a black eye for no good reason.
18 posted on 01/30/2003 8:39:00 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: TroutStalker
I meant in general. WSJ is writing about a story that has been known for at least a month already in the software forums.
19 posted on 01/30/2003 8:40:45 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: Sir Gawain
If I had known about it a month ago I would have bought TaxCut.
20 posted on 01/30/2003 8:42:54 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: All

TaxCut has always been the better product.

This spyware thing is just the latest in a long line of glitches and gotchas in the lousy history of Turbo Tax.
21 posted on 01/30/2003 8:48:28 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: George W. Bush; Bush2000
You're right.

If I owned Intuit, I'd make proper functioning of the program dependent on it not being pirated--but I'd let the user operate it anyway. You can stick all manner of subtle bugs into the program that activate if the registration doesn't match up...

Let the pirates wonder why the IRS is hitting them for an audit, back taxes, and penalties...
22 posted on 01/30/2003 8:50:13 AM PST by Poohbah (Beware the fury of a patient man -- John Dryden)
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To: TroutStalker; newgeezer
Taxcut sells your personal information to unrelated companies.
23 posted on 01/30/2003 8:52:37 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: Poohbah
Oh, please. Do you actually think real pirates with financial assets are stupid enough to run the pirated software themselves?

Buy a clue.
24 posted on 01/30/2003 8:52:40 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: George W. Bush; Bush2000
Oh, please. Do you actually think real pirates with financial assets are stupid enough to run the pirated software themselves?

SOMEONE is running pirated software, and doing his taxes with it...if not the pirate, then who is it?

25 posted on 01/30/2003 8:54:54 AM PST by Poohbah (Beware the fury of a patient man -- John Dryden)
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To: Poohbah
Rubes. Cannon fodder in the copyright wars.

Before you start whining: no one made them download it, did they?
26 posted on 01/30/2003 8:58:00 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: newgeezer; TroutStalker
http://www.taxcut.com/privacy/index.html

Information We Collect

We may collect information about you as follows:

Information We May Disclose.

H&R Block Affiliates. We may disclose any information we collect to our H&R Block affiliates, to provide financial services, such as banking, insurance, mortgages and investment services. We do not disclose information from your tax return to our affiliates without your express consent.

Other Third Parties. We may disclose your name, address, email address, along with demographic, computer system, or lifestyle information we collect through software warranty registration to select third parties, including non-financial companies, such as direct marketers and retailers and financial companies, such as insurance companies. We do not disclose information from your tax return to these third parties. You may opt-out of these disclosures by following the procedures set forth below under the heading "How You Can Control the Use or Disclosure of Your Information", or by designating your preferences during the registration process.

Service Providers. We may disclose any information we collect to service providers to perform a service for us or perform a function on our behalf, or financial institutions with whom we have joint marketing agreements. Service providers may also collect such information on our behalf. Examples could include, without limitation, processing contest entry forms, processing warranty claims, collating letters, managing information through Internet cookies or other technologies, or sending e-mails on our behalf. In cases where we use service providers or joint marketers, we restrict such parties from using your nonpublic personal information except to act on our behalf or as required or permitted by law.

Other Disclosures We may make other disclosures of any information we collect to affiliated and non-affiliated third parties as required or permitted by law. Such disclosures may include, without limitation, disclosures that you expressly request us to make, to effect or process electronic refund advance loans or other products or services that you obtain from us, to comply with a subpoena or other court or government agency order, or made in the event of a sale or transfer of our business or assets.

You may have additional rights under state laws, and this Privacy Statement does not limit those rights. Information we may post about these state laws after the date you acquire the software can be found at www.taxcut.com/privacy.

27 posted on 01/30/2003 8:58:09 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: Sir Gawain
Taxcut sells your personal information to unrelated companies.

You have reason to believe Intuit doesn't?

All the buyer gets -- if I register the product -- is my name, my address, and space in my recycle bin. Big deal.

28 posted on 01/30/2003 8:58:49 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: TroutStalker
TurboTax failed to send me the $10 rebate last year -- and then returned as "undeliverable" my second request. I was already peeved, since they were offering me a direct order, as an old customer, at $10 more than I could buy TurboTax two weeks later at Office Depot.

This year I bought Tax Cut ---the box says "seamless imports from TurboTax, Quicken, and Money."

29 posted on 01/30/2003 8:59:32 AM PST by gatex
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To: George W. Bush; Bush2000
Yup. You got that right.

And some of the folks who downloaded it and got burned might very well decide that the hacker needs a lesson.

You aren't bulletproof in cyberspace.
30 posted on 01/30/2003 9:00:08 AM PST by Poohbah (Beware the fury of a patient man -- John Dryden)
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To: newgeezer
You have reason to believe Intuit doesn't?

No, I'm not pro-Turbo Tax.

All the buyer gets -- if I register the product -- is my name, my address, and space in my recycle bin.

Are you sure? Read the privacy policy I just posted.

31 posted on 01/30/2003 9:01:10 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: blau993
I've used Turbotax for 10 years but, after reading up on Intuits new antipiracy measures, skipped on it this year and decided to try TaxCut (I'm a computer programmer, and I firmly believe that software should make your life EASIER...Intuit seems to have forgotten that).

Like you, I was a bit worried about having to re-learn everything. That worry, it turned out, was misplaced. The interfaces are nearly identical. They could have easily been designed by the same team, or the same person, they are so alike. There was NO learning curve to TaxCut. Although help and instructions were always one click away, I found that I never needed them.

Also, like you, my tax returns tend to be fairly complex and I wasn't looking forward to starting over. That also turned out to be a misplaced worry. TaxCut imported my TurboTax 2001 data without any difficulty, and prepopulated most of the return.

So TaxCut is cheaper, it's identical in both interface and features, it doesn't assume you're a criminal, and I can legally lend it to family members and help them with their taxes. Sounds like TaxCut is the better product to me, and they've got a new loyal customer here.
32 posted on 01/30/2003 9:05:13 AM PST by Arthalion
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To: Poohbah
You aren't bulletproof in cyberspace.

Ah, but I'm not doing it. I'm merely explaining to you how it works in the larger scheme of things.

I have never been a warez distributor. I think some people are annoyed that I'm not. But I'll help people to do it if that's what they want. And I'll help them to avoid becoming a high-profile target.

Sue me.
33 posted on 01/30/2003 9:06:09 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Sir Gawain
Read the privacy policy I just posted.

Done. Thanks.

34 posted on 01/30/2003 9:07:11 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: TroutStalker
I think you can option to not install the safecast too. I think it is optional from talking to people who have used it.
35 posted on 01/30/2003 9:09:41 AM PST by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: George W. Bush; Bush2000
I have never been a warez distributor. I think some people are annoyed that I'm not. But I'll help people to do it if that's what they want. And I'll help them to avoid becoming a high-profile target.

Ah, you'll aid and abet...

And, BTW, you aren't bulletproof in cyberspace, either. You willing to play Horatio at the gate to keep some pimply-faced teenage slacker out of prison? You willing to become Spike and Bubba's cell-b!tch for that?

I doubt it...

36 posted on 01/30/2003 9:10:18 AM PST by Poohbah (Beware the fury of a patient man -- John Dryden)
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bttt
37 posted on 01/30/2003 9:10:26 AM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: Poohbah; George W. Bush; newgeezer
I've read where C-Dilla actually disables your CD burner on occassion when its copy protection routine kicks in and thinks you're burning pirated software--not just TurboTax.
38 posted on 01/30/2003 9:12:11 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: Sir Gawain
According to that privacy policy, TaxCut DOES NOT sell ANY of the information on your tax return under any circumstances, to anybody. The only information they sell if the software registration information you provide, and even then it is sold ONLY if you check the boxes giving them permission to do so. TaxCut actually has one of the better privacy policies around.
39 posted on 01/30/2003 9:13:53 AM PST by Arthalion
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To: Arthalion
I never said it sold info from your tax return.
40 posted on 01/30/2003 9:17:09 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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Comment #41 Removed by Moderator

To: Sir Gawain
I've read where C-Dilla actually disables your CD burner on occassion when its copy protection routine kicks in and thinks you're burning pirated software

As long as it knows its victim is pirating software, I've no problem with that. However, I do -- as much as possible -- burn a single working copy of my kids' games CDs. I give it to them, and I stash the original away for safekeeping, in case they should mishandle and damage the working copy. It hasn't happened yet, but I refuse to lose software I paid for, due to mishandling the CD. If that violates the license agreement, so be it.

I'd guess the popular spyware spies -- AdAware is the one I can think of at the moment; supposedly, there's a better one -- will find and kill C-Dilla.

42 posted on 01/30/2003 9:23:23 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: Arthalion
Ditto on the ease of transition from TT to TC. I made the switch several years ago after a major problem with TurboTax's online functionality and have never regretted the change (especially after continuing to do yearly price checks).

The one thing that does bug the heck out of me, though, is the "free after mail-in rebate" basis of the e-filing, state software, and discount. You almost need a CPA just to keep up with the rebate forms.

43 posted on 01/30/2003 9:28:37 AM PST by LTCJ
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To: LTCJ
The one thing that does bug the heck out of me, though, is the "free after mail-in rebate" basis of the e-filing, state software, and discount. You almost need a CPA just to keep up with the rebate forms.

Not that TurboTax is any better in this regard.

44 posted on 01/30/2003 9:31:58 AM PST by LTCJ
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To: newgeezer
I just checked SpyBot Search & Destroy. Under Excludes/Products/Spybots.spi they include CDilla. So you can search and destroy it by using that program.
45 posted on 01/30/2003 9:34:08 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: newgeezer
There is now an uninstall for C-Dilla.
46 posted on 01/30/2003 9:35:19 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: LTCJ; biblewonk
You almost need a CPA just to keep up with the rebate forms.

My guess is most or all rebates are offered with the premise that (1) some of the people who purchased the product because of the rebate will not file for it, and (2) some of the rebate checks mailed will never be cashed.

There's also those cases such as the one just uncovered here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a postal supervisor was found to be supporting his methamphetamine habit with other people's rebate checks. But, that's another thread.

47 posted on 01/30/2003 9:35:33 AM PST by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: Sir Gawain
According to TurboTax's website, the C-Dilla uninstall is only after you also uninstall TurboTax itself.
48 posted on 01/30/2003 9:38:48 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
Yeah, pretty crappy. Macrovision actually altered their webpage after people found out about Safecast. Read about it here.
49 posted on 01/30/2003 9:41:40 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: TroutStalker
Be aware that TT will stop working if you strip out C-Dilla.
50 posted on 01/30/2003 9:42:34 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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