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Some jokes do need to be explained...

So yesterday I posted this picture to my Facebook account with the title "Ironic gesture of appreciation".

Now, since as far as I know, nobody I used to work with at the Foxchase H&R Block office is on my friends list, I guess I do owe folks some explanation of why I found this ironic and funny. It all goes back to December of 2014, when we were sitting through our obligatory pre-season Skills to Win classes, and the word was coming down that we would be expected to do most of our returns using the new Blockworks software, which was replacing the old DOS-based TPS. Kansas City wanted 75%, as I recall, but our district manager, not to be outdone, said he wanted 80%. Much eye-rolling from the veteran tax pros, who were (justifiably, as it turned out) wary of the new software. Over my protests, I was appointed Blockworks Advocate for my office.

Among the many things I disliked about Blockworks was that the workflow was exactly backwards from TPS: in TPS, you entered the information from the clients' forms into the software, which shuffled the numbers to where they belonged on the various 1040s, schedules and forms. Not so with Blockworks, which had some of the documents available for entry (mostly W2 and 1099 forms) but mainly expected you to put the data directly into the various forms and schedules via screens that looked nothing like the actual forms and schedules and sometimes didn't even have the information in the same order. In addition, some of the older tax pros had problems reading the small. overcrowded screens full of the tiny 10-point Arial font instead of the spacious TPS screens with the large, easy to read 12-point Courier New font. Also, Kansas City hadn't increased the number of tech support people available to answer questions; in fact, we were supposed to rely on (incomplete) F1 help screens, a continuously updated technical manual, and forums where we could get questions answered, but not in real time. I warned my fellow tax pros of this at our pre-season "dress rehearsal" meeting, and it went over about as well as one might expect.

The worst was yet to come. It quickly became obvious that many of the forms we needed in Blockworks weren't ready, especially for various states, and we started running into problems with Virginia state returns in particular. After a couple of weeks with all kinds of problems related to Blockworks' defective Virginia software, the word came down from District that 1) KC acknowledged that the Virginia software was hosed, and 2) they weren't going to fix it before April 15, so 3) we might as well do all the Virginia returns in TPS. Which we'd been doing for a week already, thank you very much. I think I maybe did ten (10) returns on Blockworks all season, mostly 1040EZ returns for military taxpayers whose homes of record were in Florida, Texas, or other states that didn't tax military income.

So when my new manager here in Vegas gave me the pin by way of thanks for pulling long hours and being generally helpful, I admit I giggled a little bit after she walked away. Because it was funny, damn it.

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