Thoughts on TurboTax online

Yesterday Alli and I finished filing our 2009 federal and state taxes.  We used TurboTax online, after using the desktop client for several years.

Why did we switch to the online version?  Simply because I wanted to try it.  If it made life easier, reduced one CD and installation effort, great.

Was it easier?  Somewhat, but not a lot.  The desktop client is very good, and so is the online version.  During the process, I ran into one annoying thing.  Very annoying, in fact.

I accidentally added a rental property in the federal section, which was then copied to the state section.  So far so good.  TurboTax pointed out I did not fill in all the required information for this property, which is nice.  So I went back to the federal section, deleted the property, and went back to the state section, hoping it would be wiped out.

No such luck ;(  I tried again.  And again.  No joy.

This is when I tried asking the online help, which has two flavors.  One is an interactive “chat” of sorts, but not with a human, I don’t think.  No luck there.  Two is an online forum or Q&A system, where I did find my exact question right away!

Only to see that there were dozens of angry questions and comments, with my exact issue, for the past four months.  Now this is interesting.  You’d think that with an online product, a bug like this would be hard to fix.

What’s even more curious is that normally Intuit is known for great products, great quality, and excellent usability.  But in this case there was a bug, the UX led me right into this bug, provided no hints on how I fix it, and the product itself had not been fixed in months.

It was a useful reminder that no software is perfect.  Even the best companies with the most resources don’t always get it right.

Overall, I still found TurboTax to be helpful, and I plan to use it again in the future.  This is not enough to make me “churn.”