Enough With The Useless Enterprise Software Upgrades

from the make-it-stop... dept

For Techdirt Corporate Intelligence, we’ve used Quickbooks to keep track of our bookkeeping. It’s a decent, though not spectacular program. We bought a copy of Quickbooks Pro 2001 about the time it came out and have used it ever since. There was never any reason to upgrade, because the product worked fine as is, and none of the upgrade features were worthwhile. Our accountant, always looking for ways that we can save money, specifically recommended that there was absolutely no good reason to upgrade. However, at the end of April, Intuit “sunset” the product. This is fair. It makes sense for a company to eventually stop supporting old products. What is not fair, is that the product suddenly lost features because of this. We weren’t worried about it being sunset, because we had never needed support from Intuit. However, starting in May, when we went to email out our customer invoices, the software said that it could no longer send emails because the product was sunset and we needed to upgrade. In other words, they didn’t just sunset support for the product, they sunset features of the product and held our invoices ransom until we would pay for an upgrade. I called up Intuit and was told repeatedly that they needed to do this in order to give “the best support possible.” I explained repeatedly that I understood the need to sunset support of products, but could not understand the need to sunset features that worked the day before. I had been a happy Intuit customer until the day they decided to hold my invoices for ransom, and now I was being forced to upgrade. The Intuit customer service rep promised to “escalate” the issue, and insisted I would hear back within a week. “Within a week” apparently means “never” to people at Intuit. Over at News.com, Charles Cooper is noting that companies are increasingly tired of the forced enterprise software upgrade path, which only helps the enterprise software company. He points out that these companies are reaching a point where they’re simply not going to accept it any more, and software vendors need to realize this — or someone else is going to come along who does things better. In the meantime, does anyone know of a good alternative to Quickbooks? So far, investigations into their main competitors suggest every one is just as bad. It’s no fun going with the best of a terrible group. There must be a better solution out there, and if there isn’t, shouldn’t that represent an opportunity for someone to do things right?

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Comments on “Enough With The Useless Enterprise Software Upgrades”

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yep says:

try using small claims court

Small claims court is for this purpose. This company cheated you out of your product. You paid for it. If it was even in the terms of service that the product would stop functioning at a certain date, I’ll bet it is not legal.

I know a tiny settlement if you win will mean nothing, but you will be doing your part to stop the crazy policy. And the big part will be you can publicize it. That will shake them up into listening.

Just dont agree to settle with a gag rule.

slim says:

what a load of carp ....

Mike, what gives with this beef???

Lemme get this straight … they are “holding [your] invoices RANSOM”?????

Come on … that’s pretty exaggerated. I have no doubt, having used earlier versions of Quickbooks, that you can print your invoices and mail them. So, while you may not be able to use the “service features” of an old version of Quickbooks, the product retains its ability to Quickly Do Your Books.

The “service feature” is the part of Quickbooks that has been “sunset,” but nothing, I’ll bet, is stopping you from using the program to send your invoices out (just maybe not using THEIR infrastructure).

Wanna clarify?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: what a load of carp ....

I have no doubt, having used earlier versions of Quickbooks, that you can print your invoices and mail them.

Yes, this is true, and, actually, the majority of our customers do receive paper invoices. However, a few of them have specifically requested emailed invoices, as they find it much more efficient (as do we, honestly). When a customer requests something that we’ve provided before, and suddenly we’re forced to go back and say, “no we can’t do that any more” that makes us look bad. So, yes, I do believe Intuit held our invoices for ransom. They took away a feature that we had used to serve our clients and wouldn’t give it back unless we paid to upgrade. That, to me, is unacceptable.

Mike says:

Re: Re: what a load of carp ....

We also purchased Quickbooks 2001 and were outraged when the email invoice feature stopped working. When we called intuit the exact words from the rep when we complained was ” What else you gonna do. There is no other software available”

What I did was make a backup, uninstalled Qucikbooks and then reinstalled and turned off the automatic update feature.

Once I did that I can still email nvoices to this day .. since we dont use it for payroll its not an issue as far as updates for us.

However, we have been testing Simply Accounting and have found it more than capable as far as our business is concerned.

Compurer Guy says:

Re: what a load of carp ....

Dear Slim, your response to this issue shows one of several conditions: 1) a great deal of stupidity 2) a great deal of ignorance or 3) You work for Intuit.
The very reason I am looking at these comments is because I was looking for an alternative to emailing through THEIR infrastructure in the first place.
Have you stopped to asked yourself why is it that we can’t email directly from QuickBooks? I’ll provide the answer… It is because they force (in a very subtle and underhanded manner) the customer to upgrade when they feel like it. Every program worth it’s salt can mail directly without having to use (or force you to use) any one particular server or infrastructure. They are in fact telling you “You use our servers or you can’t email”
By the way… in case you haven’t notice, that “Choke hold on the customer” philosophy is prevalent throughout the entire program with little icons pointing the way to more services, links spread throughout the myriad of screens, and the pop ups that show up constantly.
I don’t know of any other software manufacturer that is more unashamed and flagrant at pushing their products down the customer’s throats.
Yes, holding the invoices hostage, indeed the entire software is an excellent way to describe it

Don Jessop (profile) says:

Intuit is headed for disaster

I have a similar problem with Quicken. I purchased the Quicken XG product because it was bundled in with QuickTax and it was a good deal. (Canadian versions) I hadn’t used it for about three or four weeks recently and when I tried to bring up the program it told me that I needed a new license key and that the old one had “expired”.

To be perfectly honest I hadn’t read all the fine print on the box before installing it, so I take some of the blame, but I am unable to look at ANY of my data. I can’t print out reports on what I entered or do anything at all. Intuit was no help. They just wanted money. My answer: Money. Microsoft Money. It does what I need it to do and I’m not “leasing” something that I thought I had bought. There are no other answers for Canadians and the good thing is that it can import my Quicken data.

As for a small business, do NOT get Simply Accounting. My wife spent almost three months trying to transfer information into Simply Accounting for a local non-profit company. The result was a mess.

Quickbooks Is Evil says:

They force me to pay $20 per month...!!!

I made the unfortunate mistake of purchasing quickbooks to do payroll. I am the only employee of my company, and I got used to they way quickbooks 2001 did things. I paid $180 for the software, and $50 one time fee to use payroll. Since that time they moved to a “subscrition” model, where I am forced to pay $20 per month in order to ensure I have the latest updates. Without this, I can no longer use the payroll featers.

I now end up paying $240 per year for software that was supposed to be a one time purchase.


Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I too have been disillusioned by Intuit — I seek to put them out of business along with the other crooks out there, selling a CD that costs a dime to make for $200 and then FORCING you to upgrade every year or two…. It’s a crime…

They sell a “full Solution” for accounting and then force you to pay extra in order to maintain the normal business flow.

It’s frustrating because they really know how to help out and make things easy, but they end up getting much more then their fair share of the profits in the small company that I’ve started.

Try getting “Old” copies off of Ebay to apply for their upgrade refunds — that worked for me. I got the brand-new – shrink-wrapped original software for $50 when you count the ebay purchase and re-sale of an older version, the purchase and rebate of the new version. So, now the money every year doesn’t seem so out-of-reach, especially when being creative about it every time.

One of these days they’ll be down – hail to the nice companies, the ones that will replace the over-weight software giants of nowadays with kind, courteous, useful, and REASONABLE corporate structures, aiming at customer satisfaction, not profit margins.

Anonymous Coward says:

Funny that your ad server is endorsing QuickBooks.

Look what gets served up at the bottom of the page. Too bad your filter prevents me from posting the actual html…

QuickBooks Pro 2004 QuickBooks Software Options

Discount Prices from $154.95. Fast… FindAccountingSoftware.com is your…

service.bfast.com findaccountingsoftware.com

Pete Cooney says:

How to get anything done

One observation after reading an article about calling a Customer Service Rep to ask for a change in a vendor policy:

If you want to get serious about requesting a change, you need to call the CEO of the vendor company and leave them a message. They never return your call, but someone from their personal team does, and they almost always compromise with you.

Pete C

Mike (profile) says:

Re: That's business

I understand the frustration, but it is necessary to update each year for certain quickbook functions – especially payroll, because the forms update each year. Besides – you can write it off as a business expense!

Huh? No, you miss the point completely. I understand that new functions or functions are updated, but if I don’t need them, then I shouldn’t be forced to upgrade.

The *problem* is that they TOOK AWAY functionality. That’s ridiculous.

Stasia says:

Other Solutions?

The only solutions I could come up with (without upgrading) would be to print the invoices and PDF them to your customers via email. I think there is an option to export into Excel, which you could email as well. On the other hand, it might be worth upgrading. It sounds like you were happy with this product for several years, and one bad experience had turned you against it (and convinced other people to not purchase the product). I think Quickbooks is a good product overall, and it might be worth it to upgrade, even if only once every three or four years. However, it does sound like they could improve their customer service if they never called you back about the issue, but I don’t know if one problem is worth writing off the product entirely.

bjc (profile) says:

Intuit held my taxes ransom!

Here’s my Intuit experience:

If you have made any changes to your computer such as a hard drive upgrade or new version of Windows you are locked out of previous versions of Intuit’s Quicktax.

I recently tried to open Quicktax 99, which I paid for and registered years ago. It completely prevents me from opening it until I re-register with Intuit! They say I need a page from the manual I threw away 4 years ago to do it! “Oh, you don’t have that manual? I’m sorry, you will have to RE-PURCHASE the software.”

That’s right, I paid and registered 4 years ago, but because of Quicktax’s extremely restrictive “copy protection” I have to buy it again if I want to see my 1999 tax return!!! They even told me that their registration database from that far back has been deleted – so they couldn’t help me even if they cared.

What if someone needs access to tax calculations years later? What if they are audited and CCRA want’s to see forms from previous years?!? What if Intuit/Quicktax goes out of business and can’t provide the magic registration codes needed? You’re screwed, that’s what!

All of Intuit’s programs have these extremely restrictive copy-protections built in, and there is a very serious risk that when you need to access historical accounting and tax data you will be locked out of it!!.

What possible piracy value could a tax program from 6 years ago have? Why can’t they just unlock everything after a reasonable period of time?

I am all for publishers protecting their rights, but software that essentially self-destructs after it is used is taking it just a little too far. Accounting and tax data are crucial to any business. Software that holds this data for ransom should be outlawed!

I have made my business, as well as those for whom I consult, Intuit-software-free for several years now.

They just DON’T get it, and they don’t deserve our business.

Talk About Spyware says:

FYI in the newer products offered by QuickBooks they now offer an option to email invoices directly from your QuickBooks program however beware they route your email through their server.

I called and complained and they stated it was for our benefit to make sure it was routed through a secure server. I told them even through it is routed through your secure server at some point when emailing the invoice it would be not be secure anyway. Also we have a secure server to route the emails through and should have the option of allowing them to go through our server and not theirs.

I found out that their other versions (like their UK one) for the customers outside of the US allow you to email invoices from QuickBooks and it is routed through your server and not theirs. I asked since they already have the code written to allow what I am requesting which is to allow our emails to be routed through your personal server, which by the was ours is secure, could they provide us the code or do some custom programming to our QuickBooks software. The said they would look into it but have not heard from them yet.

We have a company policy not to divulge our customers’ information to any third party. With our invoices being emailed to our customers and routed through their server we could be held liable for not complying with our privacy policy. I wanted to let you know just in case this would be a concern for your companies with regards to your privacy policy.


Concerned About Privacy

Rao Byrapaneni says:

Quicktax platinum

I purchased Quicktax for at least 10 years. Of course, there were problems with it many times, because of deficiencies in the software. I have overriden the spaces and was able to make use of the software.

However, I sold a rental property, and there is no provision to input the original purchase cost. I tried two telephone numbers given in the software and they both ended up with call centres in India. Those folks did not understand what a recapture is and what a capital gain is. They said that they would “escalate” the issue, and have not heard in three days.

It seems that you cannot reach the folks in Canada. This is my last year of buying Quicktax, because you cannot talk to anyone in Canada who understands Canadian tax system.

I am telling all my acquaintances about my experience and suggest to them not buy Quicktax.

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