Intuit, developer of personal finance software, ended up with egg on its face last week after being forced to warn users of a flaw in one of its flagship products.
The company urgently contacted 50,000 UK users of its QuickTax 97 tax preparation package to alert them to the error, which causes customers to submit wrong tax bills.
Intuit wrote to each registered customer personally, giving them information on the flaw and instructions on how to recheck their tax calculations.
The company also pledged to send out a free corrected version in mid-September.
"Intuit strives to deliver 100% accurate products at all times, and regrets these errors," said Tony Macklin, marketing manager at Intuit UK. "We have taken every possible measure to minimise inconvenience to our users, and stand by ready to be of assistance. It is very important that we retain the trust of our customers."
Those affected by the flaw, which omits to take people's tax allowances into account when calculating their bills, are likely to have overpaid rather than underpaid their tax returns. Intuit has agreed to pay any penalties charged by the Inland Revenue to users who underpaid their tax as a result of the software error. The company said it was not aware how many users have been affected.
Intuit was quick to own up to the problem. In a statement it said: "In this case, the internal testing process was not adequate, and the company has learned from this experience."
QuickTax 97 was given away as an add-on to Quicken Deluxe, the company's flagship home finance package. Intuit was informed of the problem by users.
The error only affects users of the UK version. Intuit said it is working closely with the Inland Revenue, and has called in tax experts to identify gaps in internal testing processes.
QuickTax 97 was the company's first software package to cater for the new self-assessment rules which came into force this year.
Concerned users can contact Intuit on freephone 0800 731 1958.
Intuit's swift response to the error in its tax software is commendable, and in contrast to the practice of many IT companies, which deny there are problems for as long as possible. The difference with Intuit is that in the field of financial software the trust of customers is paramount, and the company will do nothing to prejudice that. Other software companies should take note.
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