When I started uFunctional LLC back in February 2007, I bought a copy of Intuit QuickBooks. My wife set it up, thinking she would help me. We never really did much with it.
Now it’s 2011. I have a client running QuickBooks and part of my work for them will involve selecting a product that will integrate with it and overseeing an integrator to help with that. Plus, I’m now touching two Excel spreadsheets every time I create an invoice. So I dusted off QuickBooks Pro 2007 and installed it on my laptop. I also requested an evaluation copy of QuickBooks Enterprise because that’s what my client is running.
I’ve spoken with three people at Intuit. All were pleasant and knowledgeable and an asset to their company’s brand.
The first person arranged for me to get the Enterprise CD for evaluation alongside software I’m considering for my client. He was quite helpful and didn’t get ahead of things.
The second person got involved when I needed an activation code to get QuickBooks Pro running on my laptop. He said that it would take some time to generate the access code (Are Intuit’s internal systems that slow)? While we were waiting for the access code, he proceeded to inform me that QuickBooks 2007 is off support, and hinted at various awful things ranging from unavailable features to data loss that might occur. It made me wonder. Is their software and development process really so bad that after four years of patches their customers are still having these kinds of problems? Or do they build this stuff into the software on purpose to sell upgrades? Or is it just scare tactics? (That reminds me of the extended warranty hard sell I got when I bought a Honda Civic new in 2004, but that’s another story).
But, he said, all is not lost. There “just happens” to be a “limited time promotion” on upgrades to QuickBooks 2011. There followed some silence while he “checked some things,” and, wonder of wonders, I was eligible! He quoted me a price and continued his patter while we waited for the access code (being forged in the fires of Mount Doom, it would seem). While he was pattering, I was visiting my preferred software reseller, who was willing to sell me the same thing for 10% less. I didn’t say anything except that I wasn’t going to buy today. I was going to tinker with my licensed but off-support copy of 2007. He asked if Intuit could call back. “Sure,” I said. Silly me.
The third person called me today, a day later. She offered me a 30-day trial download of QuickBooks 2011. Fair enough. A lot of software companies do that nowadays. She also explained that after 30 days, I could either buy an upgrade license (for 10% more than the price they quoted me yesterday), or continue to use it and automatically be charged a monthly subscription fee.
Automatically charged. Huh. So I asked, “Do I have to provide a credit card to get the trial working? “Yes,” she said. At that point, I said “No, thanks” to the trial and, thanked her for her helpfulness, explained that what I was about to say had nothing to do with her, personally, but that I didn’t appreciate their sales approach. I think I used words like “lame” and “icky.”
Somewhere, somebody with a spreadsheet figured that a percentage of people would trust the sales rep that the promotional price direct from the manufacturer really was the best price, not 10% more than the everyday price they would pay with a stable, reputable reseller. That same person with the spreadsheet probably also figured that some percentage of busy, harried small business owners would forget to either license or terminate the trial and would get nicked for a month’s subscription.
I understand that Intuit needs to sell software to stay in business. But I wish the man or woman with the spreadsheet would close it, and look out the window, and think of things like classiness and principles and how their punished-if-they’re-not-nice-to-customers phone reps feel at the end of a day of using these tactics.