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Ok, true, there’s not much that can be considered entertaining about accounting software, especially if that accounting software is QuickBooks. On the other hand, many of you own or run your own small business and may be no stranger to this horrible piece of software. Intuit deserves a special place on the Customer Service Spanking list for a number of reasons.

First off, did you know that Intuit offers NO unpaid support for QuickBooks? Seriously. Although Intuit made $622 million from QuickBooks last year (up 6% from the previous year), they have decided that customers no longer deserve ANY unpaid support. Not for a year. Not for 90 days. Not for 30 days. Not even for one day. No. Unpaid. Tech support. Period.

This is a horrible, ridiculous policy, especially considering the 80% market share they enjoy in the small business accounting category. And even more so when you consider how poorly designed their software is. Hit the clicky thingie to read more…

Take for instance the problem that I was having recently with one of my company files: I wanted to remove the password, because QuickBooks forces you to change it every 90 days, which causes problems when my accountant needs to access the data, especially if people from their office can’t get ahold of me to get the latest password and they’re working on something time-sensitive. Should be a simple enough task, right?


Of course, the QuickBooks documentation claims this process to be an easy fix. Just go in to change your password, remove the password from both password fields, and that’s it.

Except it doesn’t work.

First off, as with many password systems, there’s a challenge question drop-down. You have to change this back to the default <select> in order to progress pass this screen. Many users might figure this out, but even this isn’t the real problem, because when you try to click through to save your user account without a password, QuickBooks throws up an error that says “The new password is not complex. Please try again.”

Intuit claims that they don’t offer any tech support for QuickBooks because everything you could POSSIBLY want to know can be found in the help file or online in the “community forums”. Usually when a developer points people to the community forums for support, they have people monitoring those forums and, sometimes even, providing answers, especially to common issues.

Doing a search for remove password in the QuickBooks forums yields over 12,000 results…I’d say this is a common issue (sure, some of the results aren’t specifically related to removing the password from a company file, but it’s clear that many of them are). Some of the messages have info about a password reset tool that Intuit provides.

Ok, let’s stop here for a minute. Really? A password reset tool? For a file on your local computer where the password is actually stored? How about this instead: Make the process for removing the password actually work! And the worst part is that after downloading the password reset tool and waiting for the unlock code to arrive via e-mail, the password reset tool ALSO DID NOT WORK. It just said “There was a problem removing your password” and pointed me to a list of reasons why that might happen. None of them had anything to do with me. None of them said “This software sucks” either, which I found odd.

Anyway, since I was so frustrated with this idiotic situation, I got a lowly tech support person on the phone at Intuit and pretty much made her help me. She kept telling me that there was no included support and I told her I realized that, but the solution to this problem in the help file was wrong and nobody answered my question on the community forums. So she proceeded to tell me that I don’t know how to use a computer and that I’m obviously doing it wrong (I may be exaggerating this somewhat, but she did in fact tell me that I’m obviously doing it wrong).

So I let her share my screen, and after about five minutes, she was literally cursing my system because, of course, it didn’t work for her either. At one point I asked her if there were any features in QuickBooks that would cause the password removal process to not work…something that was requiring me to have a password, but the error message simply wasn’t telling me so. “No. There’s nothing like that in QuickBooks,” she assured me.

Finally she escalated the case (at no charge) and had me upload my file to Data Services so that they could remove the password. Yes, now at least one other person at Intuit was going to be wasting their time, simply because their idiotic programmers never thought to implement a simple “Remove Password” button with a confirmation dialog. Nice.

A few hours later, I received an e-mail that the work on my file was done, that they’d successfully removed my password, and my file was ready to be downloaded. The e-mail informed me that they had created a new password for the file, for security reasons, but that I’d be able to remove it in the normal way once I downloaded the file.

Except I couldn’t remove it. Seriously. Same error message.

At this point I was ready to pull out what’s left of my hair. I started going through all of the various menus in QuickBooks looking for anything that seemed related.

The Solution

Under QuickBooks’ Company menu is an option that reads Customer Credit Card Security…

Clicking on this lets you disable this feature. This feature requires that all users accessing the company file have complex passwords that must be changed every 90 days.

I disabled the feature (since I don’t store customer credit card data in QuickBooks anyway), went back to the change password dialog and whaddya know, it worked! Finally. After hours of support phone calls to at least four different people at Intuit, none of whom knew this the Customer Credit Card Security feature had to be disabled before you could remove your password.

And, again, there are THOUSANDS of people who have this same issue.

Companies like Intuit give software devs such a bad name. QuickBooks looks like it was designed and programmed about 15 years ago, visually speaking, with none of the visual niceties of modern Windows software. It’s not even easy to “follow the money” in QuickBooks…something that should be pretty darn easy to do in an accounting package, especially one with an 80% market share in its class. What I mean by this is that if you’re reconciling a bank account and you have trouble locating a payment, for example, it takes a ton of clicks through to different parts of the program just to find what you’re looking for.

But to add insult to injury, Intuit offers NO unpaid support for QuickBooks, and their tech support staff are uninformed as to the functionality of the product’s features and how to work with them.

So here’s your customer service spanking, Intuit. I hope it stings. A lot.

UPDATE: After finally solving this problem, I posted a link to this article in several threads at the Intuit support forums, so that other people with this same issue who hadn’t received accurate help from anybody (including Intuit) would finally be able to get rid of their passwords. Now, I will say that an Intuit employee in the forums, going by the forum name payrolljen, did in fact thank me when I posted this to my own original thread. However, another Intuit employee, a community host going by the forum name AskAmyK, REMOVED some of my posts from other threads and sent me an e-mail telling me I was “repeatedly posting the same information, regardless of the relevancy to the issue being discussed” (which wasn’t true, since I only posted to other threads in which people were complaining that they couldn’t remove their passwords) and then she went on to cite some of the forums’ legal agreement, outlining in red sections on imploring readers to take actions intended to furhter a personal purpose and linking to competing sites with the intent to harm the flow of information at Intuit’s community.

AskAmyK did, in fact, at acknowledge that she recognized that I was trying to be helpful, which I appreciated, but I still think it’s ridiculous that she removed some of my posts, since, again, I specifically posted them to threads in which people were complaining that none of the information or tools provided by Intuit had allowed them to remove their passwords, or threads where people had posted that they were having password issues and no responses had been posted.

It’s just annoying that there are people at Intuit spending time / effort on stuff like deleting relevant posts and citing legal agreements, rather than helping the many customers having issues. It reminds me of those stories about how AOL would employ many more people on staff to dissuade customers from switching to another ISP than they did actual tech support or customer service people.