H&R Block admits fault after not following company policy

Greg Merritt was reissued his tax return cheque after it went missing only to find out six months later he was being sent to collections by H&R Block.

The tax return company admitted it did not follow company policy after reissuing a lost cheque

H&R Block in Fredericton admits it didn't follow policy when re-issuing a cheque to a customer after it was reported stolen. (Dane Coote/Canadian Press)

A Fredericton man says he shouldn't have to remind a financial institution to cancel a cheque after it has been reported stolen.

Greg Merritt filed his taxes in April 2017 with the Fredericton branch of H&R Block. He was issued two cheques, one for $1,000 and the other for $214.

But the second cheque valued at $214 was stolen.

"I went down and told them, I said, 'What's my situation? I need to recover my $214,'" said Merritt. 

Then he asked if the cheque could be replaced.

"The woman said that's a good question, I'll have to call you back."

But the company never called.  

So Merritt went back to the Fredericton branch and asked about the cheque. He said they issued him one the next business day. Merritt, who has been unemployed for 18 months, was relieved.

"I avoided a crisis," he said.

Sent to collections

But on Oct. 5, Merritt received a letter from H&R Block stating he was overpaid by $214, and requested it be paid back.

The first cheque which Merritt reported stolen had been cashed, he said.

H&R Block continued to pester Merritt for the payment through a series of emails. The complaint made its way to head office in Calgary. He described the wording of the emails as 'terse' and to the point.

"Just the way he spoke to me in the emails," said Merritt.

I don't think it's my responsibility to remind them, they are the financial institution.-Greg Merritt, Fredericton resident

H&R Block said in an email that it's policy to refer to head office when determining whether a stolen or lost cheque has been cashed before cancelling and issuing a new one.

"Unfortunately, in the situation involving Gregory Merritt, the cheque was re-issued before H&R Block head office was contacted and we failed to cancel the original cheque," said the email sent for H&R Block by Brianne Sommerville, who works in public relations for the company.

"We assume the fault in this situation, as we did not follow H&R Block policy."

Merritt said admitting fault isn't a consolation for what he was put through.

"As a consumer, I'm happy they would reissue a cheque in good faith, but don't come back to me asking to pay it back because you forgot to follow policy," said Merritt.

He said he is worried that other people will find themselves paying out of pocket for something out of their control.

"I think people just automatically pay," he said.

But H&R Block said they are no longer enforcing Merritt to pay the amount of the original cheque.

"I don't think it's my responsibility to remind them, they are the financial institution," he said.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Brianne Sommerville as a spokesperson for H&R Block. She is not.
    Nov 29, 2017 2:28 PM AT

About the Author

Nathalie Sturgeon

Reporter

Nathalie Sturgeon is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate from the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She is from Blackville.