QuickBook-Related Woes Continue

I normally don’t use this blog to share experiences unrelated to compression, but my recent experience with QuickBooks, which is ongoing, was too poor not to share.

I was happily using QuickBook’s 2009, which did everything that I need, when I was informed that the ability to e-mail invoices would be discontinued on May 30, 2012. Since that’s a service I depend on, I upgraded to QuickBooks 2012, spending just under $200, which is quite a bit given that I was perfectly satisfied with the existing version. Some might call it extortion, even, though obviously not in a legal, prosecutable sense.

I guess my frustration with Quicken relates to the fact that though they periodically force me to upgrade, the base feature set and the interface never seems to change. Beyond continuing to use the program functions that I had already paid for, I never got a sense that I was getting additional capabilities that I needed. Admittedly, I’m a small company who uses perhaps 1% of the program’s overall functionality, but cripes; at least update the interface a bit to lure me into happily paying more dough.

Anyway, I run Quicken on an old HP 4300 Workstation that I use for two things; Quicken and scanning documents from my HP scanner. The computer runs Windows XP, which at last count on www.netmarketshare.com was running on over 45% of all computers connected to the internet. It's old, but still a very relevant platform.

The “Upgrade” Experience

1.    Thus, May 17, 2012.  So, I bought QuickBooks 2012, installed it, and then tried to send my first email invoice. The program couldn’t create the necessary PDF. I went online, found what was supposed to be a fix, ran it twice, and still couldn’t create the PDF. I could create a PDF and email it manually, but I send about ten invoices a month, so the automatic mode was obviously preferred.

2.    Tuesday, May 22, 2012. I contacted technical support and was connected very quickly - no long queues. The support tech took over control of my computer via a pretty nifty service that Quicken runs, and tried the fix I had previously tried twice, which predictably--call me a pessimist--didn’t work. They she created a different login account (called “Test”) for my computer to attempt to correct the problem.

When she tried to retake control over my computer, it didn’t work using the new Test login, which was a harbinger of bad things to come. By this time, I had been on the phone for about 90 minutes and it was time to go cook dinner for my family, so I left it at that.

3.    Friday, May 25, 2012. When I returned to the computer, the original login for my computer (called “Jan”) was no longer available; just the Test login account. Not a huge deal, but it did mean that all of the preferences and shortcuts and the like that I had created for my old account were gone. In addition, I tried to run Ulead PhotoImpact, the program I use to scan documents, and it no longer ran.

I tried to run Quicken again to see if the program magically fixed itself, and it had stopped running too. Basically, I use the computer for two things; scanning and QuickBooks, and now neither worked.

4.    Friday, May 25, 2012. I got another support tech on the line, again without a wait, told him the case ID, and was told that their system was down for maintenence, so I had to recount the painful story to date. This tech tried to take over control of the computer, again in the Test login account, and it didn’t work. Quicken still didn’t run, so we uninstalled manually, ran a clean script downloaded from the QuickBooks web site and got ready to reinstall QuickBooks.

Just one problem; the entire QuickBooks site had been taken down for maintenance and there was no way to download the program. It will be up on Tuesday, May 29. The support tech helpfully asked if I wanted him to send an installation DVD via two day delivery, but I pointed out that it wouldn’t get here before Tuesday, when the site went back up. He checked to see if he could get a one day delivery, but that function was down for maintenance as well. By this point, I had been on the phone for an additional 90 minutes.

So here I am, down 3 hours and $200, with a month’s worth of invoices to send out, and no way to do it.  A client asked for some scanned receipts for some expenses that I had charged and I can’t do that either. I've already reinstalled PhotoImpact and that still doesn't work, so I'm not quite sure what to do about scanning.

Overall, I get that software may not work on some computers, it's just a fact of life in the computer world. On the other hand, when a company essentially extorts $200 out of a customer to continue using a critical feature of software already paid for, and then that feature doesn’t work, it should expect some severe negative goodwill. Delete a login account and disable another critical function on the computer and you get a post like this. And while all websites go down periodically for updating, it’s totally inexcusable for a $3.9 billion software concern to not have made alternative download sites available.

So, that's where we stand. I'll load the software on another computer if I have to; with close to 15 years running QuickBooks the cost of changing to a different program would be too severe. I just wanted to vocalize my extreme dissatisfaction with the company's forced-upgrade policies and poor handling of their website maintenance.

I'll update this as the story unfolds.


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