Frustrated with Intuit

Intuit makes Quicken and Quickbooks.  I stopped using Quicken for Mac because it can’t import OFX files. Most banks have a way for you to download your transactions in the OFX format.  Pretty much every piece of financial software in the world can handle OFX files, but not Quicken.  I noticed that there is a new version of Quickbooks out that works on OS X and thought that surely it wouldn’t be crippled in this way.  Shows how optimistic I am.  It turns out it can’t handle OFX files either.

Here is what Intuit is doing.  Rather than letting people import the files themselves, Quicken has found they can charge banks extra money to be Quicken/Quickbooks compatible.  They take the OFX file from the institution, turn it into their own format.  If someone buys their product and finds it can’t import transactions from their bank, Intuit can blame the bank and say that the bank doesn’t support the right format.  Worse still, the charge the bank one fee to support the format their PC software uses, and another fee to support the software that their Mac software uses.

In reality, these formats are the same.  Quickbooks and Quicken look at the file and see who it comes from.  If it comes from a bank that hasn’t paid Intuit money, they return an error saying that the financial institution doesn’t support the right format or the platform (PC or Mac).

It is so frustrating to work with Intuit because they are taking something that should be an open standard and exploiting the banks by using their customers as leverage.  If enough customers start complaining that the bank doesn’t support something, the bank will probably have to go ahead and pay Intuit.  The customer on the other hand, buys a product that may or may not work with their bank.  They can’t rely on open standards to give them compatibility.

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3 Replies to “Frustrated with Intuit”

  1. I don’t know the situation in America, but Australian banks provide very simple statements, and online access does little to improve this. Bank customers clearly value how Quicken converts simple transaction data into knowledge, but the banks didn’t have to pay to develop these programs. Charging the costs (including the rightful profit attached to designing a highly valuable program) directly to customers requires either a high per customer cost for a limited number of customers, despite the programs universally usefulness, or a low per customer cost and all the risk and marketing burden of trying to rich a high customer base. Using this method to directly charge the banks lets the per customer cost fall whilst tapping into the banks huge customer base. The banks win by essentially outsourcing the demand for financial KNOWLEDGE to smaller, more dynamic companies. After all, they will only pay for formats of highly demanded programs.

    1. If Intuit was somehow less expensive than their competition or free, then I might agree with you. But they aren’t.

      They intentionally lock you out of importing a file that their software is perfectly capable of importing to try to get users to pressure the banks to give them more money.

  2. When I got my iPhone in January, I downloaded PocketMoneyLite so I could easily track debit-card purchase (I only write about 2-3 checks per month). It does everything I need to track checking. Of course, I can’t upload it into Quicken for the above-mentioned OFX reasons. My solution? I stopped using Quicken. I can do everything Quicken offers through web-based applications and PocketMoneyLite keeps my checkbook reconciled every day with my bank’s online statement. So, no more monthly balancing. I know how much money I have daily.

    In short, Quicken made itself obsolete through greed and failure to evolve.

    @Andrew: Quicken proved they were no longer a “highly valuable program.”

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