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Updating Quickbooks Forces Online Membership? 462

Posted by Cliff
from the limiting-the-previous-feature-set dept.
garyebickford asks: "I've been using Quickbooks 2001 for a long time, sending out invoices via email. A couple of months ago it asked if I wanted to do an online update - these occurred occasionally and I agreed. There was no information regarding what the update would do, although IIRC there was some mention of 'new features' and 'improvements'. Since that time, it is now impossible to either fax or email an invoice without signing up for Quickbook's 'Online Business Member' program since it appears to use their own mail server. Membership is free for now, but the required click-agreement forces me to agree in advance to any future fees! I have no interest in letting Intuit know about my invoices and other financial information. As a result, this software is essentially useless and I must find a new accounting package. I've looked at various OSS packages but haven't found one that has developed far enough to use in this way. But there are many out there and I haven't kept up to date, so maybe someone else out there can suggest something. I'd prefer using it on Linux, of course. I'd also be interested if this loss of functionality would be sufficient to consider a class action suit to recover costs of conversion." The issue at hand is that commercial software has started to force consumers to fall into such schemes to maintain features that they already had. Today it is Quickbooks, but what about tomorrow?
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Updating Quickbooks Forces Online Membership?

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  • TurboTax for 2002 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:35PM (#4839711)
    Has a similar scheme. I find I'm forced to spend a lot of time explaining this all to clients; they sure are pissed. Open Source tax/acctng sware would be very useful. And an AOL client...
  • It's true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:41PM (#4839766) Homepage
    The issue at hand is that commercial software has started to force consumers to fall into such schemes to maintain features that they already had. Today it is Quickbooks, but what about tomorrow?

    It's true actually... when I started my job back in September I was using Windows XP, and as there didn't seem to be any chance to switch to Linux coming soon I settled back into life as a Windows user, at work at least. Despite not really needing much software, I found I needed a truckload of commercial utilities to get anything done. We have a slightly dodgy connection, so a download manager that supported resuming (as neither mozilla nor IE appear to support this) was a must. On goes Download Accelerator. We need WinZip of course. Hmm, WindowBlinds FX looks nice (and it is nice). The BBC only streams in RealAudio so to save myself going insane I put on RealPlayer so I can listen to the radio while working.

    After a month or so, I realised if I could get the Adobe SVG plugin in IE working under Linux I could switch over to it, and so I got CrossOver (patched Wine to fix some bugs [sigh]) and was very happy.

    A week or so ago I rebooted into Windows, and was assaulted by raw commercialism. WindowBlinds had come to the end of its trial and popped up a window on every boot asking me to buy it. RealOne insisted on popping up adverts for its new features and offers, while cleverly not appearing to be running. WinZip of course has a nag screen whenever you run it. Download Accelerator inserts a blinking lightbulb into the system tray. It was almost physically unpleasant battering my way through all this garbage to get to what I wanted. I had become desensitised to it as I started using Windows again, then going back to it after so long was a real shock.

    After a while, you realise that seemingly every Windows app comes with some extra code whos only purpose is to try and make you spend money, or sell your eyeballs for a bit. It has nothing to do with enhancing the app, and this is true even for basic must have utilities like decompression programs and audio decoders. I wish I could suggest an alternative to Quickbooks but I don't really use programs like that. Except I know support was recently added to Wine for it.

  • by ryochiji (453715) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:50PM (#4839826) Homepage
    I wonder if tying in of software with (potentially non-free) online services is a transition phase in changes in the software paradigm. It seems like M$ (and others) are starting to look at software as services, potentially bringing it all online at some point. By tying in stand alone software with online services, I wonder if vendors are trying to blur the line between stand alone software packages and online services.
  • by endquotedotcom (557632) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:54PM (#4839858) Homepage
    ...sending your rant to them, instead of /.? I'm sure a quick search would come up with OSS alternatives, but I'm sure you'd prefer to stick with what you're used to. If you emailed them, and then followed up with a phone call to voice your concerns, I'm sure you wouldn't be the only one. If they become aware that some users actually do read their click-throughs, changing their ways would set a precedent for other companies.
  • Re:Here's an idea... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dossen (306388) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:01PM (#4839905) Homepage
    How about adding an entry to your host file, pointing the intuit mailserver to some other mailserver? That is if you are sure you want to stay with Quicken, rather than follow the advice (and good advice it is) of my fellow /.'ers and change to an oss solution.
  • Re:Whoa, here... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:06PM (#4839935)
    Hehe sure. Wait until you get nailed with your payroll feature locked down unless you pay for tax tables from them. THey did this in the Canadian version - no pay, then no payroll feature, it becomes disabled and no way to manually use it or manually update your tax rates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:20PM (#4840004)
    Actually, considering that the product he bought did NOT required this online component, considering that he is forced to agree to any and all future fee schedules to receive a patch that may very well be needed for new taxing information as a small business owner...no, it is not legal. This is bait and switch. This is forced obselescence. This is possibly the unfair exertion of monopoly power as Quicken owns the lion's share of this type of software business.
  • by kuroth (11147) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:35PM (#4840105)
    NetLedger Small Business Suite: $1200 per year

    Upgrades Required To Use Quickbooks Tax Tables:
    - Do-It-YourSelf Payroll: $169 per year
    - Upgrade To Current Quickbooks Version: $100 one-time

    Great CPA you have there.
  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pVoid (607584) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:41PM (#4840490)
    What are you complaining about?

    You downloaded each and everyone of those applications you call 'necessities'. *You* are the one who made the choice.

    I personally installed RealPlayer a long time ago, and then said "no thanks", and have never used it since. Same for netscape mind you. But also, until Quicktime fixed it's horrendous interface and constant nagging, I didn't use it either.

    When I setup a new Win box, I get a fixed list of administration tools for FREE (as in beer) from sysinternals.com, I get Winrar/Winzip for free with a proper nag screen that doesn't hog memory, just gently reminds you that you have been using it for the 400th consecutive day without paying. And a few open source things like wget and netcat and the like from google.

    I have yet to get nags on my screen.

    All I have to say is be careful what you complain about as a user, because what you want you just might get...

    (Stupid) People complained about "DLL Hell" for the longest time, and now we are ALL cursed with Windows File Protection - a hybrid 'security' scheme set up so that even administrators couldn't replace/delete critical files (why? because all the stupid people ran as admin).

    Complain about nagware, and who knows, maybe free stuff like Winzip and winamp will disapear too, and enter the world of Web Services.

  • by steve_l (109732) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @08:39PM (#4840821) Homepage
    When people complain about MS business practices, I think these people have never used quicken. I wanted to get (UK) quicken 95 to be y2k compliant, all they would offer me was a (small) discount on a current version. Instead I acquired a friend's copy, only to discover that it was chock-a-block with 'value added services' that were essentially trying to generate sales bounties for intuit.

    I would never touch any of their products again.
  • by ChaoticLimbs (597275) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @09:00PM (#4840915) Journal
    I used to do tech support for the Quickbooks and Quickbooks Pro line back in version 4+5. At that time they were a very fun, if low-paying job to have. They moved their entire operations to Tucson, AZ. They closed down the center in Rio Rancho, NM. They catered a big luncheon in a tent and sent all the temps home. The rest of us had to work 90 days more to get our severance pay. I always thought it was an odd way to announce a closure. Other than that, though, I always thought it was a great company. My supervisor, Travis Wheeler, even shaved his head on site after losing a bet. (kinda a dumb stunt, but he's at least honest when he loses a bet he shouldn't have made). He also got us some Nerf Crossbows so we could entertain ourselves by foam-fragging each other in the middle of important calls. I never saw them use this kind of method before. I don't approve. I will say, though, that QB is a great product, but Peachtree has really progressed since 1997 and should probably be checked out as a result of this new tactic. Sorry, Intuit. It was great while it lasted, but only Microsoft could get away with this kind of noncompetitive crap.
  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ErikTheRed (162431) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @09:12PM (#4840968) Homepage
    Try using QuickBooks. They p1mp so many (grossly overpriced) services in their software it's sick. Doing my accounting is about as annoying as browsing pr0n sites with IE. This with software I shelled out ~$200 for, plus the tax table subscription.
  • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @10:31PM (#4841351)
    If you don't like it then write your own. If your just bitching cus they don't have enough money then try coughing up a donation to pay for the work they've done. If you use an opensource program or think you might in the future then get off your arse and send them a payment. Donating $5 per program you'd have to pay for otherwise would be a good start.

    I am an open souce developer and working on a project that happens to be open source doesn't give me the right not to have my work criticized.

    As a software user, if I'm going to try out new software, I'd like to know everyone's opinion on it, good or bad, before I install it. It doesn't matter if the software is free and it doesn't matter if the software is open -- I don't want to create myself the hassle and the frustration of installing a software that won't work on my machine. I, for one, am glad he told us about the sound card issue (my FreeBSD machine doesn't have a sound card either) and now I can use the time he saved me to evaluate the remaining options.

    Stephan
    PS: As noble as your intentions may be, simply donating money may not be the most practical option for every user out there.

  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @11:01PM (#4841464) Homepage
    First they suckered you into "upgrades", then they force you into them.

    I started with Quicken. That was such a wonderful program thru about V3.0. The next couple of "upgrades" had lots of bells and whistles that seemed nice, but I got lost in the toys and wasn't paying attention to the actual accounting. Ouch.

    Then there was the matter of the "upgraded" programs crashing all the time. Sometimes I lost data, sometimes not. In any case it was a pain in the arse.

    A few years later, after I had become a *nix convert, I went to work for a small company. When I started they had zilch for an accounting system. Scraps of paper. That's no joke. So the owner hires a wiz bang accountant who promptly insists on Quickbooks.

    I yelled, screamed, jumped up and down.

    We purchased and installed Quickbooks. The accountant punched in the data and we were off and running. No sooner did we get things running and, wouldn't you know it, the network portion quits on us.

    You guessed it.....gotta buy a network license upgrade.

    So the owner takes a loan from her mom, gets the upgrade and we're back in bidness. Until tax time.

    Manditory tax "upgrade". Isn't that like a tax tax?

    So she shells out more of the green, gets the tax upgrade and everything is fine for a few more months. Or so I thought.........

    The boss calls me in and wants to know why my department is only doing 57% of goal. I look at her numbers, from Quickbooks, and they don't match my invoices. Not trusting Quickbooks I tracked my own department in spreadsheets too (StarOffice 5.2). Sure it was double the "paperwork" but it proved worth it.

    I never did find out the whole reason that Quickbooks was losing transactions. Didn't care. That's Intuit's problem, right? Not according to them it aint.

    All that money you pay them and if "nobody else is having this problem" then you get zilch, zip, nada for tech support.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not picking on Intuit here. IMHE they are just par for the course in the windows world.

    But didn't they start out as a Mac product?

  • new business plans (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @11:55PM (#4841684)
    I think it is a trend in business plans to move away from selling software products toward selling services around those products. MS is doing it gradually with XP, others like QB are also doing it. It is not an easy transition.

    I spent about a year of my time (after work and weekends over a few years) writing my own product. Professional marketers told me that I would not make money from sales, and they were correct.

    Nobody wants to buy software anymore; the old model of 'sell, install and forget' is uncool now. Maybe this is from bad support, expensive and mandatory upgrades. Maybe they are afraid that there is an open-source equivalent they have missed and will appear foolish if they pay for it.

    So the lesson for me is; give the software away and try to sell services around it, just like QB and MS are doing.
  • Re:Workaround (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday December 09, 2002 @01:01AM (#4841975)
    Another workaround:
    Can you force it to use your SMTP server of choice? Look in the exe and its other files for a string that looks like a mail server, (say smtp.quickbooks.com). If you find that, go to your hosts file and make a line
    smtp.quickbooks.com aa.bb.cc.dd
    where aa.bb.cc.dd is the IP of the mailserver you want to use (eg on your ISP). No guarantee but worth a try. If it really is SMTP, then the commands to send should be universal.

    Otherwise, as the above poster, create a PDF and email it yourself -- there are free ways. It's not difficult to work out automated methods if you have any volume.

  • More Intuit BS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joabj (91819) on Monday December 09, 2002 @08:11AM (#4843045) Homepage

    If my experience is any indication, the company has been pulling such sleazy "forced upgrade" tactics for awhile. A few years back I bought Quicken 97 to balance my checking account. It worked fine up until earlier this year, when I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled the OS and had tor install the Quicken as well.

    For the installation, I had to (re)register the product electronically. Trouble is, Intuit had long since cut off its end of the registration process for the '97, and , as a way of user support in the FAQ, mentioned only that users should upgrade (i.e. buy the new version).


    Bloody hell. I spent $80 for the damn software, I have no use for the additional bells and whistles and it really pisses me off I can longer use this software that I purchased! I went back to using plain spreadsheets and I can gaurantee that under no circumstances will I ever purchase some product by this company. Greedy fucks.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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