The Slightly Ridiculous Multiple License Pricing Of QuickBooks

Image courtesy of (Alan Cleaver)

When Brett’s dad bought a new computer with a shinier operating system, he had to purchase a new version of the accounting software Quickbooks for use on more than one computer. No big deal: Quickbooks comes with multiple licenses so users can install it on more than one computer after buying only one copy. There was no mention of needing multiple licenses for multiple computers in the sales documentation. That’s when Brett learned that you can’t make purchases based on how a product’s specifications used to be. A second license actually costs more than a single copy of Quickbooks.

Brett writes:

My father decided it was time to upgrade his computer, which meant updating all of his software in the process. In the past, when he’s purchased QuickBooks Pro, it has come with support for multiple users with no additional license requirements. I was sure to check out the Amazon listing to make sure that the new version still supports multiple users, and see if there were any additional requirements. Nowhere on the page does it mention that an additional license must be purchased for each computer. It discusses “Multi user support”, but that’s all.

We didn’t discover the new license requirements until after the program had been installed on two computers, and they went to use it simultaneously. At this point, the Company Data had been updated to the latest version and had been in use for several days. On the secondary computer, a message popped up saying a new license must be purchased, and prompts you to call sales. Upon calling and explaining that we never saw anything about additional licenses being required during the purchase process, we were told effectively “tough luck.”

At this point I figure that they’re out for the quick buck, and maybe an additional license was cheaper than the full price of $160. A price of $20 or so would be reasonable I would think. Nope, they want $230! After getting into a loop with the customer service rep, I asked for a supervisor. “Camila” gave me the same boilerplate response, but said she could help me out by offering me a discount of 20%. Which is still more than the Amazon listing. After talking to her, I learned that I can just buy another copy from Amazon for cheaper and it will solve the problem.

Here we are over $300 later getting the advertised functionality of the $160 product, which adds little to no useful functionality aside from being compatible with the newest version of Windows. For all he cared, my father could have stuck with his 10 year old copy of QuickBooks and been happy. This will be the last copy of QuickBooks he’ll ever buy. Or any other Intuit product for that matter. He’ll also be telling all of his customers (also small businesses) that Intuit is running a bait and switch operation.

This doesn’t fit the actual definition of “bait and switch,” which is luring customers into a store with an impossibly cheap item that doesn’t exist or never was for sale. The problem is the out-of-date promotional copy on Amazon.

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