Quicken And MS Money Are ExtortionWare

Nick recorded his call asking Quicken why they commit extortion. Intuit cripples older software versions after a few years, forcing users to pay for an upgrade or lose major chunks of functionality.

Both Quicken and MS Money sneak these “sunset” clauses in their end user license agreements, giving them carte blanche to completely disable major parts of their functionality if they feel like it. These features include online bill pay, downloading any financial information, portfolio tracking, and more. Basically, all the cool stuff.

Intuit’s rationale is that Quicken ’07 has more advanced features than Quicken ’04 , and disabling ’04 will help them roll the features out more fully.

Quicken only lets you save data in their proprietary format. Otherwise, you can only manually cut and paste 3 years worth of financials into another system, a method they advise in their help documents.

The transaction info doesn’t flow through Intuit’s servers. It’s only between you and the institutions. Not disabling the software wouldn’t incur Intuit any costs.

These types of clauses are made in bad-faith, are extortive, are not legitimate ways to recoup costs for the company, and should be illegal.

As an alternative, here are 7 Free Personal Finance Management Programs. — BEN POPKEN

RELATED:
Quicken, Quickly Retired [Washington Post]
MS Money 2004 Expired… [My Personal Finance Blog]
Intuit Pits Its Customers Against Its Partners [InfoWorld]

Comments

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  1. thejbs says:

    pardon the pun, but this policy is not ‘intuitive’for the consumer.

    Thanks for the warning, I’m using an older version, not looking forward to the forced upgrade. They really have you by the balls when you have hours of work and thousands of transactions stored in their program.

  2. RichAndFoolish says:

    Yes, Quicken went from excellent to crap.

    Fortunately, I have my old install programs and the earlier non-crippled versions work plenty well enough for my needs.

  3. 5h17h34d says:

    And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why I switched to Excel for my personal finance software. Sure it’s a bit of work to setup but well worth it in the end. I havent bought Quicken since 96 or so.

  4. mjw says:

    I have a GMAC Bank account which only allows you to download data in MS format because GMAC didn’t want to pay the quicken tax. Quicken cannot input MS format despite it being an open standard. This is highly frustrating.

  5. krunk4ever says:

    @5h17h34d: but if Excel is all you need, then there’s no need for online functionalities that are being sunset.

    I don’t think what Quicken is doing here is correct, but many software companies will stop support for old software after a certain date. (i.e. Microsoft no longer supports Windows 98 or Windows 2000). They don’t stop any of the features from working, but if you encounter any problems, you’re basically on your own.

    What Quicken is doing here is despicable as they’re actively disabling users for using online functionality. What should happen is that they just claim no support and when the bank does update and not support Quicken 2004 anymore, the user should then have to decide if he’s okay without the online functionalities or if he wants to upgrade or switch to a different software.

    //krunk (^_^x)

  6. jaysonjaz says:

    I have quicken 2004 and I am pretty pissed about this. Can someone please explain why they would feel the need to “sunset” a 3 year old program? Conceptually you could have bought this at the end of 2004 and only got received 2 years and a few months worth of use out of it.

    I can understand discontinuing support for older versions, but this is ridiculous.. I will never buy Quicken again.

  7. thinkliberty says:

    Check Archive.org they should no “sunset” date for Quicken 2004.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20050403211311/web.intuit.com/s

    Also There is no “Sunset” term in the 2004 EULA for quicken 2004.

    http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?p=EULA+quicken&ei=UTF-8&f

    IANAL, but that entitles you to a refund, them un-sunsetting the software or giving you upgrades for life. Anything less and I would take them to small claims court and sue them for the cost of the software and for the time that it will take you to convert your files from quicken format to . I suggest GNUcash.

    This is why I don’t use closed source software.

  8. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t have time to pack-sniff & decrypt the packets, but does anyone know if there is a legitimate difference between the online data transfers of older Quicken versions and newer ones? It does appear (from my end) that 2007 does do things differently than 2006 did in terms of online transactions, BUT, that doesn’t explain what we’re seeing.

    I still use Quicken faithfully, BUT am quickly becoming tired of the new versions bolting on more features while the original 16-bit Win 3.11 Quicken code still creaks and shudders in the background. I also dislike all of the new advertising Quicken 2007 contains. I paid for the program, I’ve clicked “Not Interested” on the options… that doesn’t mean I want to see it as a banner ad on the bottom of the screen. If I didn’t want the extra feature before, I probably don’t want it now either.

    I’d probably be a lot more pissed about this if I actually paid for my copies of Quicken. My Wachovia banker drops a copy in the mail whenever I’ve asked, ‘though I’m almost positive they don’t do this for many people.

  9. dugn says:

    There’s some context missing in the original story. The blogger never contacted either Intuit or Microsoft to understand the reasons for this. And nothing new was snuck into the EULA’s as some have suggested.

    I know these software packages well and I can offer some insights. You may disagree, but here are some of the reasons to help people understand:

    #1 – “Yearly” Products offer a very limited amount of product support – they always have. Whether it’s Quicken, TurboTax, Microsoft Money or Microsoft Encarta, products that are released yearly have a limited (usually 3 year) support life-span. This helps out with the remaining reasons below.

    #2 – Cost of supporting legacy technologies with old. Remember the old days before you could even download your data from a bank? Then you got to download comma-delimited files that were tricky to load into your software. Later the files were got better so your downloaded data attached itself to the correct account in your software (and what horrors it used to be when you uploaded data for one account into the wrong account – ouch!). Now it’s pretty much a daily, automatic download in the background you never even have to touch. Each of these represents a data download format that was the standard at the time and was replaced by a better, more useful, easier-to-use standard. Knowing that…

    Banks BEG Microsoft and Intuit to force customers to newer versions that sport newer download formats. This saves the banks a LOT of money dealing with lots of different versions of Quicken (QIF) and Money (OFX) files, the support costs of dealing with antiquated download formats and helps the banks offer more streamlined features. This is good for banks, the software shop and yes – even the customer if they realize they’re getting more for the move to better software. It’s not much unlike upgrading from an old TV to an LCD. You’ve gotta buy new connectors – but the benefits are worth it.

    Also – not all of the features ‘die’ like the blogger stated. Only the MSN Money transfer system (read ‘antiquated’ again) is sunsetting. The feature in Money 2004 is a dog by today’s standards. Although public support for Money 2004 ended in October 2006 (you can’t call Microsoft for support anymore for this old version), the rest of the system will continue working indefinitely happily downloading from systems that continue to support Microsoft’s rarely-changing OFX format – just not the automatic use of MSN Money through Money 2004.

    This blogger hyped the impact of a single feature to suggest the whole program was shutting down and holding his data hostage. While Quicken’s format changes are more frequent – and their sunsetting clauses far more restrictive (yes, they really will make it impossible for you to export your own data at a certain date) – Microsoft Money has always allowed you to export your data in either a Microsoft format or a standard format for use anywhere else. In fact, Microsoft Money is really good about allowing older versions of Money files to always be read by newer versions. I’ve never been able to trip it up when importing ancient financial data (and I’ve tried).

    Short version: The blogger voiced a one-sided opinion and a poo-strom of grumbling followed. Hard facts make the post far less dramatic than the claims. Money doesn’t hold your data hostage (although Quicken does in some cases). And although it’s usually better to update to a newer version of the yearly software every few years, it’s not without a couple of bumps along the road. Staying with a dated version of yearly software expecting it to work forever is just unrealistic.

  10. J.D. Roth says:

    Quicken makes it hard to port your data out of it.

    What?

    I’m just as cranky as everyone else at being forced to upgrade Quicken, but this is nonsense. Upgrading from 2004 (due to forced sunset) to 2007 was simple. It’s not hard to port your data out.

  11. ConsumerJim says:

    “(yes, they really will make it impossible for you to export your own data at a certain date)”

    Uh, exactly how does Quicken do that? There is the .QIF format that has been around for years, you can export out and into Money, or something else. Plenty of other smaller personal finance programs and sites import QIF, so that whole “Can’t get data out bit is complete BS.”

    In fact it is such BS that even ignoring QIF you can run a transaction report on all of your data going back as long as you want and then save it to a CSV file and import into Excel, or you can print it to a tab delimeted file and import it into Excel.

    On a positive note the writer managed to get the names of the two products correct.

  12. alhypo says:

    @J.D. Roth:

    I think what they meant was that it is difficult to port data out to a different software package. Of course they would make it simple to transfer from the older version to a newer one because that is exactly what they want you to do.

    The point is, it’s difficult to stop using Quicken or MS Money once all your data is locked into that particular program. And since they apparently force you to upgrade, you’re pretty much stuck buying it until you go through the tedious copy-paste process or someone comes out with a program that can extract the data from the files created by the software (which may be available already; someone should check).

  13. FLConsumer says:

    dugn sounds like a Quicken PR rep. I have no problem adding functionality, but there’s NO reason why the had to eliminate the older file formats. Even Microslop leaves their older formats in programs.

    I saw it suggested elsewhere, but I believe this would be a great time for an Open Source solution. If you do it right, you can even get banks to help you out with this as they’d be able to offer their own support and customizations and would be able to hand the product to their customers as a “free bonus” for using them.

  14. Skeptic says:

    This is just another example of how Intuit tries to make money off of its online transfers rather than the functionality of the software.

    Intuit makes banks pay a licensing fee to interact with Quicken. They charge **extra** for banks to deliver the exact same data in the exact same format to macs and the Mac Quicken software checks to see if the individual bank has paid the Mac fee before it will accept the data.

    Quicken works well enough and the upgrades are pitiful enough that users feel no need to upgrade so Quicken uses this bogus sunset clause to retroactively cripple your software to force an upgrade.

    And although it’s usually better to update to a newer version of the yearly software every few years, it’s not without a couple of bumps along the road. Staying with a dated version of yearly software expecting it to work forever is just unrealistic.

    …except that arbitrarily upgrading software that works solely because the manufacturer decides in needs cash is stupid. It can be dumb to upgrade software for no reason–especially when your finances depend on it.

  15. krunk4ever says:

    @FLConsumer: I hear this a lot:

    I saw it suggested elsewhere, but I believe this would be a great time for an Open Source solution.

    However, those who say it never seem to contribute to the open source directly. They’ll say what they want and what open source should do or make, but in the end, they give 0 contribution.

  16. OnceWasCool says:

    There must be some CEO somewhere that had what he thought was a good idea. I don’t use Intuit’s quicken, but Quickbooks Pro multiuser pack and upgrades, as well as doing taxes online.

    NO MORE!!!

  17. HawkWolf says:

    I used quicken 2006 because it came on my iMac. Then I found out that the Macintosh version lacks the ability to assign categories to more than one transaction at once, something the PC version can easily do.

    I wanted to categorize all of my several-thousand bank transactions I loaded in. It would have taken quite a long time, and it took even longer to figure out why my friend’s instructions (from the PC version) didn’t work.

    I ended up taking my ball and going home.

  18. Red_Eye says:

    Being a software developer who has supported for the last 6 years a product that was ‘sunset’ by its originating company I can see both sides of this.

    Intuit has an obligation to provide its users with both a functional and secure experience, also while maintaining its ability to compete by creating newer more feature rich products. This then causes a dilemma of supporting two or more products. Granted they are probably starting with the same code for each newer version but thats beside the point.

    The unfortunate truth is this software like so many others should be clearly labeled on the BOX that it will not work indefinitely. Then again who needs Quicken to run on their 486 anymore anyway?

  19. DjDynasty says:

    Microsoft Offers a program called Accounting and accounting Professional. Accounting appears to be a free program all together, with the professional version supporting multiuser environments which costs money.

    So far the product is to new to have started to expire, and reading the license does not state they will extort money out of me later for additional features or upgrades.

  20. MotherFury says:

    I am so glad somebody finally called Intuit out on this. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with them for years.

    I’ve been using Quicken Home & Business since about 1998 and use it manage my business account (billing & checking), as well as the personal checking accounts for myself, husband & my two children.

    I have been forced to upgrade several times so that I can continue to get direct downloads from my bank on a daily basis. Each time I upgraded, I failed to find any significant differences between the old and new version other than the “new” one looked prettier.

    What makes this even more frustrating is that 4 years ago I switched my office over to Macs only to find out that Quicken H&B is not available for Mac, which meant I had to hang on to a Windows machine JUST for accounting.

    Last year I had to get a new WinXP machine (cheap $500 laptop + $80 virus protection software + $80 for QH&B) because the new Quicken wouldn’t install on my old Win98 machine. All of this because I’m addicted to those daily downloads from my bank that help me keep my accounts balanced.

    I’ve been actively seeking a replacement for the last year, and there just isn’t anything out there for Mac because Intuit has cornered the bank market for transaction downloads.

    (Intuit won’t guarantee that QH&B will run right using Bootcamp, I asked.)

  21. Scazza says:

    “Hey Ford, I bought this Focus in 2004, but now when I turn the key, it says that I will no longer be able to drive on highways, what gives?”

    “Well sir, your car dosn’t have the new highway seatbelts, and we decided to stop supporting your car after April 2007, you will have to buy a new ford sir”

    “Can you just upgrade my seatbelts?”

    “No sir, we no longer support that one, plus this new Focus has so many new features. Do you drive on thie highway?”

    “Yes”

    “Yep, your going to have to upgrade.”

  22. aka Cat says:

    There should be one standard for financial data transactions. Make Quicken and MS Money comply with it.

  23. thereviewer says:

    I was pissed about it, I had 2004 and was forced to go to 2007, however once I did, there were three credit cards I could not connect to previously, and now I can connect to all of them. There are some other new things that I could not do before that are useful to me. I also got it online OEM for like 28 bucks shipped, so it was pretty cheap (I pay for software that I need support for) So in the end it wasn’t horrible, but I agree, kinda shitty practice.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    @krunk4ever: Trust me, if I had the programming knowledge to pull something like a Quicken knock-off, I’d be writing it. Alas, I’ve not programmed in probably 10 years now, quite happy to not be digging through piles of code, ‘though I hear it’s much easier now than in the old DOS days.


    @CatMoran: That’s what I was hoping to get at with some sort of open source solution, even if it was just an open-source standard for online account updates. I’d love to know what Intuit is charging the banks in royalty/licensing fees. I know several banks are now starting to charge (or not even offer!) for Quicken access.

  25. timmus says:

    I still use Quicken 2000…. no racket going on there. Thanks for reminding me to avoid the upgrades.

  26. scredly says:

    I just went through this with Quickbooks. I went to import my bank transactions and no-can-do. Need to upgrade. Bank uses same file formats it has offered for years. Only change is Intuit turned off my capability to import the data. As poster stated, software does not interact with Intuit in any way to perform this function. It’s between my bank and I and was working just fine until Intuit held me up for an upgrade.

  27. gundan says:

    I had the same problems when it came to using MS Money when I was using Windows 2000/XP and further when I switched over to the Mac world, I was stuck using Quicken initially as it was the most obviousy choice. I was concurrently maintaining my MS Money instance also. I finally found out about Moneydance which works well in all major consumer platforms(Mac OS X/Windows/Linux) and I have been a happy user for a couple of years now. The product is fairly priced at $30 and it does practically everything Money/Quicken does and further imports Quicken data too.

  28. Underpants Gnome says:

    “Banks BEG Microsoft and Intuit to force customers to newer versions that sport newer download formats. This saves the banks a LOT of money dealing with lots of different versions of Quicken (QIF) and Money (OFX)”

    Actually, I have seen exactly the opposite. My bank told people not to upgrade, as they haven’t given in to Quicken’s extortion. If you do upgrade, you’ll lose the ability to download your transactions. Annoying, since I bought after the change, and Quicken doesn’t allow you to buy old versions.

  29. MaineCoast says:

    Managing Your Money (formerly from MECA software, now defunct) is an old DOS based program that the good people at Intuit ran out of business years ago. It was great (and if you can find a copy it still works and runs under XP). Andrew Tobias (www.andrewtobias.com) had a hand in it. Someone should write up a good story on that one.

  30. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Quicken seems to have more advanced features than MoneyDance, at least the last time I looked, particularly one-click download of transactions.

    That said, the Mac version of Quicken is pathetic, and the PC version includes various advertising including installing four or five ad icons on your desktop.

    Turbotax isn’t much better, with its constant nags to upgrade to their premium offerings and its registration nag every time you start the program, so you can be “notified of tax updates.” Yeah, right. Do you think they’ll send you an e-mail when a new download is available? They want your name and address so they can send you marketing material.

  31. HawkWolf says:

    scazza, your scenario is two separate problems:

    problem A: not supporting older versions, i.e not adding features or fixing problems in older versions.

    problem B: completely disallowing older versions.

    The company I work for ‘supports’ (i.e we’ll help you with problems) any version of software we’ve made. However, we do not provide new features or bug fixes for older versions. From a software development standpoint, that’s way too complicated for our company to deal with. If you want a new feature, or a bug fix that’s only in a new version, you need the new version.

    However, we do not cause older software to stop working. That’s the problem with Intuit. They aren’t just saying, “tough luck”, but they’re locking people out of using older versions.

    They’re also trying to prevent newer versions of Quicken from being compatible with the QIF import format, or even .CSV (comma-separated values in a text file).

  32. jaysonjaz says:

    I agree with the Underpants Knome… my bank does not support the automatic downloads. I can only import QIF files from my bank. Because Quicken doesn’t support QIF import after the 2004 version, upgrading would really be a downgrade for me.

    I am really surprised at the number of comments of people sticking up for Intuit on this thread. Its not like I’m running Quicken 98 of my Windows 95 PC. I am running 3 year old software on my computer I just bought in December. Its also not that I’m demanding product support for Quicken 2004, I am angry that they are disabling a working product to force me to upgrade.

    Does anyone know any workaround or hack to disable their crippling of my sofware?

  33. sammy baby says:

    FLConsumer: Even Microslop leaves their older formats in programs.

    I thought part of the point of this story was that Microsoft does the same thing with MS Money?

  34. shiftless says:

    Why is this extortion when you will always have access to your data?

  35. amb1545 says:

    I can’t say I ever enjoyed using either Quicken or Money. And it only got worse when I switched to a Mac. Quicken for Mac is the most god awful piece of crap I’ve ever used. And I refuse to run a virtual machine just to run Money. I’ll be sticking with Wesabe for the time being. Sure, it lacks a lot of the functionality of Quicken or Money, but I don’t have to worry about whether it will work on my Mac or whether they’ll force me to buy a new version.

    It’s about time someone made a good personal finance app for OS X. I’m quite surprised Apple hasn’t done it yet, I think it would fit in perfectly with their iLife suite.

  36. Skeptic says:

    Why is this extortion when you will always have access to your data?

    It is like Ford saying they’ve turned off access to gas for your 2004 car. The gas hasn’t changed but ford has triggered a DRM that will keep your car from accepting new gas–just because they feel like it. You still have full “access” to your car, you just can’t get new gas.

    Having access to old data is only half of the function of quicken. Being able to import data from your bank is the other half. Turning off that feature–even though the file format has not changed–is actively disabling the utility of the program.

  37. Stockholder says:

    First, did you let this person know that you were recording the conversation, or were you just breaking the law since it’s convinient for you?

    Second, this is just some poor flunky customer service person you have on the phone trying to etch out a living for himself. He has nothing to do with company policy, so why bother making him look like a fool? Go after a VP of marketing or somebody and ask them why this is company policy.

    Third, consider the software as a subscription and not a piece of product that you own. That is basically the terms of the agreement that you agreed to when you decided to use it (sorry if you didn’t bother to read the agreement). There is no law that says you have to use it. You’re just unhappy that it doesn’t work the way you want it to, so use your economic vote and take your business elsewhere and/or file a complaint and hope that they actually act on it.

  38. jaysonjaz says:

    @thinkliberty

    Good thinking… I read the EULA and they had this great catch all

    “Intuit shall have the right to change or add to the terms of this Agreement at any time, and to change, discontinue or impose conditions on any feature or aspect of the Intuit Software, or any internet-based services provided to you or made available to you through the use of the Intuit Software. Such changes shall be effective upon notification by any means reasonable to give you actual or constructive notice, or upon posting such terms in the Intuit Software, and your continued use of the Intuit Software will indicate your agreement to any such change.”

    Any idea if this would actually stand up in court?

  39. quail says:

    Intuit built QuickBooks from 2000 to 2007 without being Microsoft Certified Compliant. What I understand that to mean is that Microsoft told all software vendors that after Windows XP’s run was over, all software had to follow certain protocols so that their software would continue to work with newer versions of Windows.

    Intuit ignored this for 7 years. And now with QuickBooks 2007, and I assume with quicken too, updates are mandatory in order to run with Vista and even with XP running IE7. (With QB 2002 I know that you couldn’t set any web browser other than IE as default or the program had problems.)

    In essence their software was never designed to work in a changing OS environment. Intentionally or not their business model is one of obsolescence.

    The only work around I see is that the software owner reformats the hard drive, reinstalls the XP os or later, and makes sure that the computer never updates with Intuit or MS.

    Oh but wait. With QB the files become unreadable by versions of QB that were never updated. If the last QB program to handle the files was an updated one, then un-updated QB software can never read the information. I would assume this is the same scenario for Quicken users?

    Guess all Intuit users are SOL unless they continue down the updating path.

  40. RaslDasl says:

    Quicken is basically free after rebate when you buy TurboTax. I know, I know, rebates are evil. Blah, blah, blah. And even if you pay for it, $30 bucks every 3 years is a pretty low price compared to the extortion Norton/Symantec is up to. They don’t even give you the new version of your program with your annual subscription. That’s not to say I wouldn’t use a free program if it worked as well as Quicken, I am a big fan for Grisoft’s AVG Free edition.

  41. Skeptic says:

    First, did you let this person know that you were recording the conversation, or were you just breaking the law since it’s convinient for you?

    INAAL and I’m guessing neither are you. If you were you’d know that many states are one party consent and that a conversation may be recorded with only the consent of either the caller or the receiver. Second, most customer service calls play a message that states the “call may be recorded or moninitored for quality control purposes.” That statement legally implies that your continuation of the call indicates consent thus forming the two party consent required by some states. However, that consent cuts both ways and the caller can record the conversation as well. There is no reason to believe this recording is anything but legal, IMO.

    Third, consider the software as a subscription and not a piece of product that you own.

    If quicken wants to sell and market their software that way, that would be ok–but they don’t, and it’s not ok.

    In essence their software was never designed to work in a changing OS environment. Intentionally or not their business model is one of obsolescence.

    Intuit isn’t saying that Quicken 2004 won’t work on Vista–that would be reasonable. Intuit is saying that your current software will no longer be able to import the same data format it has always used from your bank which is sill using the same GD Format. It is as if microsoft told you that Word will no longer be allowed to open text documents sent by your bank in the same text format they always use. The document format has not changed, Intuit has merely decided that you will no longer be allowed to read the documents using the software that can read this data just fine.

    This is unconscionable and I’m stunned by the corporate apologists who think it is fine to retroactively downgrade software to artificially prop up a company’s bottom line. If Intuit wants to sell more software they should make better upgrades and improvements, not retroactively cripple your software’s ability to import existing data formats that have not been changed or upgraded in the newer versions of the software.

  42. monkeyboy says:

    @MaineCoast:

    Do you know where I can get a copy of this program? Even though its in DOS, I would like to try it out.

  43. johnnyblanco says:

    I agree 100% with skeptic and Shareholder.. you’re spouting corporate rhetoric.. you want to see this new version come out so that your company makes money and it helps the bottom line.. well guess what.

    Thats’ NOT gonna happen.

    Because we the people influence a company. Period. Companies succeed or FAIL because of the consumers that frequent them. Now that I found out that Intuit is pulling this crap.. guess what.. They not only do not get my business.. other PEOPLE get told that this crap is going on.

    I work for a major company and I have to say that this crap is just that.. Crap. We release software and such but it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have the latest software the program will cease to work. That is a VERY stupid business model and it’s done to affect their bottom line and I for one won’t fit the bill of this.

    This is also a call out to other companies that might be listening. Its allright for you to come out with newer versions of software with updated features and such.. it’s NOT okay to terminate old versions of software because you feel that people had this for 3 years.. time to force them to upgrade.

    Screw you.

    Oh and one last thing. You want to make sure this fails for Intuit? SPREAD THE WORD! I will make DAMN sure other users of quicken products know this as well as hit up some of my friends who are press and work for G4TV and stuff to cover this story.

    You wanted change Intuit? Congrats.. you got it. For the WORSE.

  44. Zach Everson says:

    I’ve been a Quicken user for years, which means I’m wedded to the product. And, as a Mac user, I didn’t even have the option of MS Money when I got started (yes, Intuit is so bad that this Mac user would like the option of a Microsoft program).

    In the eight or so years since I first bought Quicken I’ve had to upgrade twice. Both times the software got worse. Features disappeared. And upgrading is a several-hour long task.

    Unfortunately, I’m not going to switch as I’d have to enter years of information into another program. The only way for me to fight back is by slamming Intuit’s products in online reviews and refusing to purchase its other applications (like Turbo Tax).

  45. Zach Everson says:

    Also, I have no moral problems with outsourcing; my concern however, is when the quality of the customer service suffers. Intuit has outsourced its customer service (to India, based on the accent) and the reps there can do little more than read from a script.

  46. monkeyboy says:

    If anyone was successful compiling GNUCash for Windows, please post.

  47. BrandonOBrien says:

    Monkeyboy, Why use GNUCash when you can use ClearCheckbook.com or Buxfer.com and get the same features plus more?

    ClearCheckbook allows you to update your site via SMS, AIM or ICQ… much handier than being tied down to your computer.

    Both sites are free to use.

  48. ritty says:

    I’m not sure why this on the consumerist. Quicken and Money have been doing this forever. I still use Quicken 98 (even though it uses win16 base – ugh!) becase I refuse to upgrade to something that works essentially the same. I can just type in the value of my portfolio.

  49. monkeyboy says:

    @BrandonOBrien:

    Thanks for the tip, but Id rather not use a online app for something as personal as my finances. This is especially true from a “no name” company. If Microsoft Money came out with an online app, I would probably pay to use it. It would offer 3 major features, always up to date, available anywhere, and support from a major name.

  50. darlink says:

    I don’t think its all that bad of a thing. Its not like Quicken software is all that expensive. Supporting old versions and making constant updates to make it is secure with all the new online banking needs is kind of a waste of resources. Microsoft stopped supporting ME, Win98 and 2000 which the first two I dont care so much, but 2000 is used by lots of companies… that was not nice.

  51. KragenJavierSitaker says:

    In general this is a problem with proprietary software — the software owner has complete control over the software, and you have no control. Maybe what Intuit is doing is illegal, or maybe it’s not, but they have the technical capability to keep doing it at least until someone takes them to court.

    That’s also true of the various proprietary alternatives other people are suggesting above — Moneydance, Microsoft Money, and various web sites. It’s a dumb idea to entrust your personal financial data to software like this, and this Quicken debacle demonstrates why.

    Use a free software alternative instead; that gives you an ironclad legal and practical guarantee that nobody is going to make your software stop working, and you can audit it to make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Myself, I manage my money with pencil and paper, but I have friends who have been using GNUCash for years.

  52. Theseus says:

    I agree with the majority of folks here that the 3-year rule is garbage, and way too restrictive.

    That said, I have to defend Quicken making it hard to move the data to other products. It’s their way to create “switching costs” and defend their business, which sucks a bit for consumers but is pretty foundational to most capitalist enterprises.

  53. KragenJavierSitaker says:

    @Theseus: It’s true that capitalist enterprises tend to try to create switching costs that defend their business, but this is a failing of market systems, not a virtue. In fact, it’s widely cited as a reason for what economists call “market failure”, where markets fail to function.

    (I don’t think this is actually a switching cost, though. This is a cost imposed on those who fail to upgrade, not those who switch to a competitor.)

    You’ve pointed out that it’s unsurprising that Intuit (there’s no such company as “Quicken”) treats their customers in a way that, as you acknowledge, “sucks”, essentially because it might be in Intuit’s best interest. It may be unsurprising — I don’t know that much about Intuit’s history — but that has no bearing on whether it is right or wrong, or whether it should be defended. On that principle, you could argue that auto glass shops should be defended if they hire hoodlums to break car windows on the street, because it increases their business.

    If you really think that it’s unsurprising that Intuit would abuse their power over their customers’ computers in this manner, you shouldn’t even consider installing their software and putting it in a position to control both your computer and your bank account. They could do anything, and there are things they could do to create far greater costs to their customers.

    As long as you’re stuck in the proprietary-software world, the best that you can hope for in this matter is to entrust your bank account to a trustworthy company — one that won’t steal from you the software that you have bought, or steal money directly from your bank account. But if you use free software, which anyone can study, copy, modify, and redistribute, you don’t have to worry about it.

    If someone were to insert such a theft feature in, say, GNUCash, other people would read the code and denounce them. Then any one of them could remove the problem and redistribute their fixed version. Anyone could look at the fixed version and see that the change was what they said it was. And anyone looking for GNUCash would find both versions, for a while, and would be able to choose the one that doesn’t stop working.

    After a while, of course, there would be many people recommending and improving the reliable version, and almost nobody working on the unreliable version, so it would begin to be hard to find the unreliable version.

    This is called a “fork”, and it has happened to many free software projects, although usually not because of deliberate vandalism of the kind Intuit is accused of here.

    So with GNUCash you don’t have to depend on some software company not to vandalize your software or steal from your bank account. The software companies that work on it are not in a position to do so, because everyone has the freedom to prevent it — because it’s free software.

  54. mikeres says:

    I can’t believe that almost everyone is missing the point.

    I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect lifetime support for a product that costs $30-$70.
    It would be nice, but it’s not reasonable.

    If intuit wants to limit support to 3 years from the initial release date, then so be it.
    They can even choose to make Quicken available with no support whatsoever.

    The real problem isn’t discontinuing support, but rather going out of their way to disable features that are currently working.
    I don’t expect them to provide support, but I do expect to be able to use their program for as long as I am able to get it to rum on my computer.

    If I somehow managed to disable a program on someone elses computer I’d probably be arrested for hacking and end up in jail.
    I know there was at least one case where a software developer disabled his code when the company using it failed to pay the annual lease/support charges (I can’t find a link to this or I would post it).
    The company sued the developer in civil court and won.
    I don’t recall if any criminal charges were brought.
    If I find the link I will update and post it.

    In my view Intuit is hacking my computer and committing extortion.

  55. V1rZ2F says:

    I’m still using Money Deluxe & Business 2003 well past online feature shutdown date of 3 yrs / Sept. 2006 with full functionality – stock quotes, importing financial data, online financial imports, etc … .

    I always uncheck the money updates box when doing internet updates because there was one time where it did stop working after an update and I had to use a system restore point to undo the changes microsoft money made to disable the online services. Money has not been allowed to checked for updates since Feb. 2006 and the online services still work.

    If you want to keep using the online services in money, don’t let microsoft money update the version as it get close / beyond the expiry of the online services. Make sure you uncheck that box everytime you get internet updates.