Friday, August 07, 2009

QuickBooks R8: Did they really fix anything?

I've just downloaded and started to use the new Release 8 of QuickBooks 2009. I've been getting emails from Intuit for weeks now about how this new version will fix everything everyone hated about the new version of online banking.

Once you install the update, you are told that you now have a choice between the new version of Online Banking or the old. Yet, there is no intuitive manner of switching between the two. You have to know to go to Edit>Preferences>Checking>Company Preferences, and then, at the bottom, you can click a radio button that will let you make the switch. It sure would be nice if there was a "Switch to Register Mode" on the Online Banking screen. But, hey, I guess we should be happy they just gave us the option of switching!

Interestingly enough, switching back to the old view cleared up a bug I had been battling for many months. I've had a Company Reminder about online transactions ready to send, even though there weren't any, forever. I had cleared it up by deactivating the checking account it was related to, but then it came back, apparently as a result of a failed online connection at one point. The attempts to make it go away and then to fix what was broken in my checking account ate up several days of my life, including an afternoon on the phone with QB Support. The representative appeared to fix the problem, but then it came back. Upgrading to R8 and switching to the old version of online banking seems to have cleared up the error.

The old version is clearly better. Today I downloaded transactions from Advanta that I had previously reconciled. It was easy as pie to uncheck the reconciled box and then match the transactions to the downloaded ones to make it all match up. Creating aliases on the fly is a piece of cake. And dealing with accounts is now back to being as easy as ice cream (just to keep up the dessert metaphor). Thanks, QB, for listening to the users and fixing this. But I still think you owe us all a free upgrade to the 2010 version just for suffering through the "improved" version you just made it possible for us to stop using.

Next, I'd like QB to really start working on PayPal integration. I realize that they hate PayPal. After all, PayPal offers merchant services with no monthly fee, whereas Intuit offers merchant services and charges users a significant monthly fee. I should admit, though, that I think anything over $5 a month is pretty significant. But for a guy like me who does only a couple of credit card transactions per month, there should be an inexpensive QB solution, and there is not. So I use PayPal.

PayPal, of course, has its own issues. It was effectively down for several days this week. A customer of mine tried for three or four days to get a payment to go through. That's completely unacceptable. PayPal has a QuickBooks wizard, but it is clunky and will not accept an email address with a .info extension. (Yes, people have email addresses ending in .info.) There should be a sleeker solution.

PayPal is, at the end of the day, a banking website and as such it should offer the same QuickBooks and Quicken integration that other banks do. Why it doesn't, I don't know, but I suspect it is because they are competing on the merchant services side and that Intuit is the one not playing ball. But I could be wrong.

QB could eliminate the problem by simply matching PayPal's merchant services terms, but I've seen no evidence that QB wants to actually compete for customers' business. And that's really the problem. Perhaps the time has come for the Justice Department to explore the question of whether or not QuickBook's market domination is a monopoly. Because I sure don't see any other programs out there with as much control over the marketplace.

Z

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