This is a two-part post, Please read Part One Here »
Yesterday I shared with you that a handful of people have written negative comments about my tax law practice on the Internet (sites include ripoffreport dot com, complaintsboard dot com and scam dot com). Today I’ll cover why I think people have complained.
Why do people complain even when we have a great record?
Unhappy with their circumstances
People with IRS tax problems are under serious psychological and financial pressure. Clients are unhappy with their circumstances. Who wouldn’t be? At times the anxiety and anger caused by a client’s tax problem spills over on to me and my staff. I understand this. I counsel my staff to put themselves in the shoes of our clients. It makes it easier to keep a level head when they’re getting yelled at by someone for something the IRS (or the client themselves) is responsible for.
Working with the IRS on a Tax Problem is not fun
I know you’ll be shocked to read this, but dealing with a tax case is not fun! In most cases we must ask you to give us a lot of financial information and documentation. Tax problems aren’t created overnight, and they typically can’t be fixed overnight. Working with the IRS is often frustratingly slow. Finding the solution that best fits a client’s unique circumstances can be painful and it takes time, effort, and patience.
Nickel and Dimed on Legal Fees
Many people still think that attorneys charge them for an hour of time after the attorney has sent an email or placed a phone call. Honestly, that’s rare today. Most attorneys bill in 30 minute or 15 minute increments. In our case, we only bill for our hourly services in six minute increments, the lowest time increment used by professional service providers.
Failure to Respond
Some clients simply don’t respond to our requests for information or action (or respond half-heartedly). These clients take months or years to do what other clients are willing to do in days or weeks. The job gets done, but even when billing in six minute increments, the legal costs go up. To avoid this my staff is trained to call this to our clients attention whenever we provide multiple follow up activities.
Some clients are such procrastinators that they don’t even check their mail. We’ve had clients who, when we’ve finished their case and mailed back a refund of their unearned legal fees, they don’t even cash the check! When a client pays us a retainer we don’t take it out of the Trust account until it’s earned. At the end of our representation of a client, if there is any money left over we mail that back to you.
We’ve had clients, and more than one, who have failed to cash $1,000 refund checks we’ve mailed them. I’ve had to get my administrative staff to call them, and call them, and then write them in an attempt to just open their mail and cash the refund check I’ve already sent them. Can you believe this actually happens?
I’ve read online complaints about my firm that bear no resemblance what so ever to any cases I’ve handled. They are filled with specific generalities that could be said about any tax law firm. It’s becoming obvious that competitors (or their marketing companies) are writing fake negative reviews of my business (and others), hiding behind the shield of anonymity the Internet provides. The motivation is simple, money.
We made an error or handled a case poorly
In 18 years I have had legitimate complaints against my tax law practice. Though, far less than one percent of my clients have ever made a complaint of any kind about me or my staff.
When someone has a legitimate issue I’ve apologized and given them part, or all of their money back. It’s good business. Then I evaluate if the problem is something that could happen again, and if the answer is yes, then I put a process in place designed to avoid future problems. I even rolled out a new business idea this year designed to eliminate fears of being ripped off. It’s a “capped” legal fee for IRS tax problems. Almost no one offers this in my legal specialty. The client gets the best of both worlds: he knows the maximum his case can cost, and if it ends up not costing that much than he pays the lesser amount.
Our goal is to have happy clients. I apologize to any client who has had an unhappy experience with us. I wish this small group of former clients all the best.
If you’re a new client considering me as your tax attorney, please consider all the facts, not just those of a few.
Until next time,
Jeffrey I. Fouts, Tax Attorney
You can put off your tax problem, or put us to work.
Here’s a bio of sorts. I’m happily married with two kids. I’m a real small town tax lawyer, (Ellijay, pop. 1,584) not some fictional marketing character. I’ve represented tax clients against the IRS in all 50 states, and in 21 foreign countries. I have 18 years experience, thousands of satisfied clients, about 8 critics at last count, and an A+ BBB Rating.
I’m a member in good standing of the bar and have active memberships in courts from Georgia to Washington D.C., including the U.S. Supreme Court. My competitors covet my Google ranking but my clients covet my sound legal counsel. I deal directly with my clients and have a small, tireless staff. You can put off your tax problem, or put us to work.