Thursday, March 06, 2008

How Do I Hate QuickBooks? Let Me Count The Ways

WARNING: What you are about to experience is very ranty and grumpy. I will endeavor to inject some humor into the situation, which is the best way I can think of to cope with any flavor of idiocy. However, I'm too close to it right now, and humor seems distant. It's also a very long post, but please realize that writing it is essential to my mental health.

Hell and Damnation! (To use some of the preferred profanity of Emerson, my favorite literary archaeologist-detective-hero of all time. As someone who enjoys relieving personal stress through imaginative swearing--inherited from my dad-- of course I must revere the "Father of Curses.")

Here's the thing. I'm already irritated about taxes. For those of you who do not own small businesses, you may not be aware that the tax deadline for corporations is March 15, instead of April 15. So basically, our tax season starts early, because, why not make the torture last longer? And we're behind, due to general slacktivity mixed with a generous helping of malaise.

The other thing--QuickBooks, the premier software package for small businesses, sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks. (I can't even bring myself to link to it because of the suckage.) Brendan can wax poetical on all of the bugs he has encountered in the almost 6 years of using it and upgrading it and losing files on it and not being able to email invoices on it, etc. But I can't speak for him. I'm going to complain about my own problems.

Problem #1: I use a Mac Mini. It's delicious and easy to use. I can be technically-minded when I must, but I just don't want to be. It makes me grumpy and prone to fantasizing about dropping machines out of high office windows, or taking a baseball bat to them, Office Space-style. My Mac lets me use a computer without having to think about installing drivers or go through lengthy set up obstacle courses. Love me some Mac.

But! Intuit, the evil makers of QuickBooks, has evidently decided not to pursue the Mac market. Which would be fine, except they try to confuse us Mac users by producing a QB version for the Mac! QB for Windows is buggy, but mostly functional. QB for Mac is so ridiculously termite-riddled that it is seriously unwise to even use the program (google the phrase "quickbooks mac bugs" for a taste). Evidently, if you cherish your business's financial data, you must not use QB for Mac as it is prone to losing it completely. So, we opted to install Parallels on my Mac and use a QB for Windows version instead. (Yes, I looked into Money and some of the other programs and decided that they didn't have the functionality I needed. I must have been high at the time. It's my only defense.)

Problem #2: QB has several Windows versions and given the price and the basic nature of my requirements for the cabin business, we went with QB Simple Start. Which should be renamed "QuickBooks for Simpletons." (Again, the thought of linking to it is nauseating. I'm sure you can google it.) It's little more than a version of Quicken (which I like and use) with some business-ish features. All packaged and dumbed-down for all of the Kindergarteners who are just learning to read and want to track the sales from their lemonade stands on the computer.

It is so ridiculous. To reconcile the bank account, for example, in Quicken, I click "Reconcile." In Simpleton, I have to go to the "For Your Accountant" menu and then click "Reconcile." Because that's how dumb they think I am--unable to reconcile a bank statement without the assistance of a CPA.

And here's the freaking thing that pissed me off and prompted this post. I need to send my 2007 financials to the accountant so that I can submit my Government Reckoning Forms on time. How do I send a year's worth of data from QB for Morons? Well, evidently, they didn't think that would be important to do, because here's what happened:

  • I run the report. Easy.
  • I look for a menu selection that says "email" or "export data" or "save to file" or "save as..." or anything along those lines.
  • Hmmm...could it be under the "For Your Accountant" menu? Nope.
  • I explore the help file until it's apparent that I'm tilting at windmills.
  • Fine, I think to myself, I'll see if I can print it. So I naively hit "Print."
  • I get a mocking error message that states there is no printer found, except the QuickBooks PDF Converter, which does not actually print, you simpleton! Why would you use that?
  • Does it give me a choice to save my report as a PDF file? Oh, it is to laugh! Why would it do that? It just notes the existence of the QB PDF Converter and then does not allow you to use it! Yes, really! (I do have a printer hooked up to my Mac, but Parallels can't find it, and when I started getting instructions about installing drivers, I cursed and gave up. Besides, printing the damn report would do nothing to help my accountant who would probably charge me more than my 2007 Revenue to have one of their clerk peopleguys type it into one of their databases.)
  • There is NOTHING I can do to actually get my data out of my database! Not in a way that would be remotely useful to my accountant! I am completely serious!

What. The. You-Know-What. am I supposed to do now?

I wonder if the Intuit guys have been courting any flaming lizard-monkey demons. They are certainly on the wrong side of the Battle between Good and Evil.


Jonathan said...

I'm always too distracted by my anger for the IRS, Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department and the Board of Equalization to generate any anger twards QuickBooks. Gotta love owning a California corporation.

Rational Jenn said...

I know what you mean. I'm already in a bad mood about taxes and paperwork anyway. Then to have my accounting software behave badly is simply maddening! I just want to be done with it so I don't have to think about it anymore and it won't let me!

Thanks for your remarks!

Monica said...

This post was truly hilarious, but at the same time, depressing. I don't use Quickbooks software. But still... it reminded me that I actually have to DO my taxes and will probably owe big time.

YUCK. I should just get it all done and paid and then I will probably feel better about it.


We Hate Quickbooks said...

We know exactly how you feel! Fortunately, if it's any consolation you aren't alone and there may be better services out there. Hope the rest of the tax season worked out better for you.

Anonymous said...

Quickbooks is not easy. So I created a new FREE online small business accounting software at

Please check it out and see it it works for you. If not, please let me know why not. I need feedback to continuously get better.

James said...

@anonymous Numia is on the right track but it is still accounting. Few companies have caught on that small businesses don't want to manage their finances so we need a new approach. I like; easy to use, free, and well funded so safe to use. Like Mint but for my business.

Anonymous said...

my story:
-i bought quickbooks pro 2007 on the advice of my accountant
-the software worked okay until i installed it on my new windows vista laptop
-since then, it has never worked properly (windows don't display, data backup doesn't work and random errors kept popping up), but i was able to continue my accounting
-then one day, the program won't open (tells me it has "encountered an error and needs to close")
-i then learned about the (no) support program from quickbooks. every phone call is $60. the business support package is $53/mo. and if i want i can upgrade to quickbooks 2009 for the low price of $199.99. (the same price as if i had never purchased qb2007). no thank you. i am gone. no longer a quickbooks user, i am now in the market for a new accounting software for my part-time business. that's no way to treat paying customers in my view!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the rant. I can also sort out the rant part (based in frustration some but not all based in QBKs) and the shear stupidity with which Intuit seems H*LL bent on destroying their small biz accounting customer market. QBKs Pro does a lot of things well but they just keep over cooking it. Enough is ENOUGH (for the love of all that's sacred. STOP! adding advertising, extra menus, web links, pop ups. ARE THEY NUTS!!? Sadly, I own a small software company who flagship product integrates directly with QBKS. You think you guys got headaches!? I believe Intuit is driving it's market away. Very sad.

Matthew said...

to say that quickbooks makes me want to pull my hair out is an understatement. there is a special place in hell reserved for the people at intuit. how much do I hate crapbooks? let me count the ways.

cbfirth said...

Quickbooks is a nightmare for me. Years ago I was a fairly happy Quicken Home and Business user but had to upgrade when I started a corporation with product inventory over five years ago.

The Quickbooks product has bugs and usability issues. The level 1 support is all in India, and it appears their job is primarily to convince you that your problem does not exist and to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.

Quickbooks is designed for accountants, not for end users. It’s user interface does not take into consideration even the simplest end user tasks. I can give many examples, here are a few.

1)The most important section for this business user is the Customer Center where sales orders and invoices are tracked. As most wholesalers know, the key number for tracking is the PO number that originates with the customer. So… try to list transactions by PO# in the customer center. It can’t be done. Can’t search on PO # either — at least not through version 2009. You have to dig through each transaction to find a specific PO number. Rediculous!

2) Create a Sales Order. If you have established payment terms for the customer (such as Net 30), QB assigns a due date that is 30 days out. So if I create a Sales Order on Nov 3, the due date is automatically filled in as Dec. 3 if the established terms are Net 30. That makes sense if I am creating an invoice. But not a sales order. We have had many customers receive merchandise late because each sales order has to be manually changed to reflect a realistic due date before being exported to our warehouse system. Sometimes we forget and these get exported unchanged to the warehouse system. I have been reporting this for 5 YEARS!!! Nobody ever responds or fixes it. (Note: this is not an issue for EDI PO’s that are imported to QB with a due date.)

3) Every item that leaves our warehouse goes through Quickbooks. But the inventory in QB never matches what is reported by our warehouse which shows the correct amount. And I mean by A LOT. We only have five products, no builds, but I cannot trust QB for inventory levels at all. I have no idea why.

4) The last version I upgraded to, 2009 hit me with advertising for every task I performed. It was unbelieveable!! Turning these ads and nag screens off was not intuitive. I had to research it and then resort to several tips and tricks to put an end to nag screens and ads — for a product that cost me over $300!!! Not one of the services being advertised was even relevant to me. It was just plain intrusive and RUDE.

5) The version of QB that I use (Premeire for manufacturing and wholesale)has no online version which would at least do away with having to install, upgrade and back up on my own computer. Of course, after the two day outtage that Quickbooks Online suffered recently, I can’t see how anywould could trust using the Online service.

6) I have upgraded from 2005, 2006, 2008 and finally to 2009 always hoping to see some improvement in the programs usability. But the product remains largely the same except for all the PAID add-on services that they advertise. In effect, I have gotten NOTHING for all the upgrades.

Finally, I have to say that Quickbooks is basically a bare bones back end accounting system for accountants. It is no way to run a business. What is needed is a cost effective ERP type system that sits on top of Quickbooks, maybe with a database in between operating in parallel. I have been looking for such a product, but nothing has really jumped out at me. It appears that small businesses are stuck with this crappy solution and support.

Dude said...

We are a larger user of Quickbooks, and after having the file corrupted twice in 13 months are AGAIN down for a couple of days because their program shreds the data. We paid $ 800 two years ago, $ 30 a month, and now they are telling us we need to pay another $ 2,512 to fix the problem. Nice .....

QBS sucks! said...

Your post made my laugh! I was so pissed off at QBs that I googled "I hate quickbooks" so I could have someone to commiserate with. I have been trying to download activity from my USED to work, now does not. Been on the phone with the bank for an hour! Not gonna call Qbs! Anyway, thanks for the laugh!