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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Smashing H&R Block

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 3:09 PM

When Dorothy Adzema ran her car through a H&R Block office, she didn't realize that she was doing herself a favor. On January 18, the 80-year-old headed to an H&R Block office in Ellet, one of the bluest collared hoods in Akron. She hoped to get an early start on her taxes. But as she parked her car, she accidently hit the gas and drove her Chevy straight through the storefront. Her car came to a complete stop amidst broken glass and work cubicles. "Of course, she panicked when she realized the car was out of her control," says Edward Sturkey, an Akron Fire Department spokesman. "She was very shaken." Despite the disorienting aftermath of her crash, neither Adzema nor any of the four Block employees, who were in the office, sustained any injuries. "I've been on dispatch for 28 years," says Sturkey. "And I can say it was absolutely miraculous that there were no injuries." Better yet, Adzema likely saved herself hundreds of dollars by accidentally destroying the office. After all, H&R Block is best known for its overpriced tax preparation services and unscrupulous lending tactics. Last year, the company settled with 22 Attorneys General, after it was sued for engaging in predatory lending practices. For years, the company has hurled its high interest "refund anticipation loans" at low income and elderly customers with the lure of fast cash. Block markets the loan as a convenient cash advance on your IRS tax refund. In reality, the company estimates your refund based on pay stubs and loans you that amount — with interest rates as high as 700 percent. By the time you get your actual refund from the IRS, you owe Block twice as much. --Denise Grollmus

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