Quicken: The Software That Becomes Crippleware

quickendeluxe.jpgSince the beginning of January, owners of Quicken 2005 have been bombarded with reminders (via pop-ups when starting up the software, and by mail) that on April 30, 2008 many important features of the program will stop functioning. Mouse Print* this week will examine the stark contrast between these current elaborate disclosures and how poorly new customers are warned before purchase that the software will become substantially disabled in three years.

In a January mailing to Quicken 2005 customers, the company warns:

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When starting up the software in 2008, this pop-up warns of the forthcoming crippling:

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For many users, the ability to download statements from their bank and stockbroker monthly, get stock quotes, as well as being able to pay bills and transfer money online, are key reasons to use Quicken.

After presenting the bad news, Intuit, the maker of Quicken, offers the solution: buy an upgrade to Quicken 2008. In the past, for many users this has not been a huge issue because Quicken Basic has always been free after rebate when purchasing the company’s tax preparation software, TurboTax. This year, as noted in last week’s edition of Mouse Print*, the company discontinued Quicken Basic and made its substitute product (Starter Edition) incapable of importing existing Quicken files. That forces customers to buy an upgrade for $59.99 (less during promotions) to Quicken Deluxe.

Incidentally, the company says it is costly to support prior versions of Quicken, and that is why they discontinue these critical functions every three years. They apparently have not changed the technology they use to communicate with banks and brokerage firms, however. That would have been an understandable reason for the nonfunctionality. It appears that the company just deliberately disables the online functions to enable it to generate more income from current owners.

Okay, so Quicken has a three year life for certain important functions. How do they convey that critical limitation to prospective customers?

*MOUSE PRINT: On the spine of the 2008 box, buried within the copyright notice, in type so small the actual notice is less than an inch wide, it says (enlarged below):

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The disclosure merely says that online features are subject to change in accordance with the “discontinuation policy” (previously called their “sunset policy”) listed on their website. The “subject to change” language also appears in a tiny footnote on the back of the box. Similar non-specific notices appeared on the 2005 Quicken box.

In no way, shape, or form is this adequate notice that the Quicken product you are about to buy will have key features of the software disabled/crippled in April three years after the date on the box. The essence of consumer protection (and fair dealing) is to provide the customer with all the relevant facts before purchase so they can make a more informed buying decision.

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36 thoughts on “Quicken: The Software That Becomes Crippleware”

  1. The policy needs to be clearly stated, however, I have no issues with the policy in general. I don’t buy software expecting that it won’t ever become obsolete. You buy the product, and then you assured of three years of online benefits attached. That’s really not a bad deal. They aren’t saying that you can’t use the software, they are just limiting the online support. I do agree with you that it needs to be better stated, but that’s it.

  2. Interesting enough, as a Quicken 2006 user, I am already getting coupons and email reminders weekly now requesting that I upgrade. Also, I have been informed that I will no longer be able to download the software I purchaed from Quicken as of August 30, 2008. They state that also have a sunset period for downloading programs purchased directly from them, but I nor their support could find reference to this.

  3. Unfortunately, this isn’t new. I used a version of Quicken (2002, I think) and I started getting notices sometime in 2005 that they were going to support for getting statements online. Nothing changed in the ability of the bank to furnish the statement, nor had the software changed. It is just Intuit’s sleazy way of forcing users to upgrade.

    I stopped using Quicken after that, and don’t miss it at all.

  4. It’s amazing to me how manufacturer’s, especially of media related stuff (audio, video, software), seem to think they can control how long their buyers can use their product. Apple restricts your audio to three copies. Video gets more and more limited to the newest technology (try finding a VHS player to play your ‘high quality’ VHS tapes). And now software just gets discontinued.

    Where’s the principle that when you buy something, IT IS YOURS, to do with it what you please? And to use for as long as you want? What’s up next? Am I gonna have to return me shirts after 3 years, because they are out of fashion? Can I only wear my boxers for 20 times, out of hygiene concerns? Do I have to renew my book-reading license? Are my over-date cans of beans gonna beep until I throw them in the trash?

    I understand technology advances, and that it is a little effort to keep formats going through new versions, but it is not that hard folks. It’s a bit of text and a couple of numbers. How hard is that to keep that in shape? Not so hard.

    Well, time to vote with my wallet and not buy Quicken for another year.

  5. Jasper,
    I believe you are essentially correct in your observationsand opinion. Fundamentally, many programs that we “buy” in reality are rented with severe restrictions on their use. I don’t mind so much when the prevent users from trying to copy software but when they limit it’s use to x number of years, that’s taking gross advantage of
    the comsumer, simply because they can. I think in the near future software companies will
    charge you to purchase their product and then charge a monthly fee for it’s use. The gaming
    industry already does this and don’t think for one second the profits those companies make
    have been overlooked by other non-gaming software developers.

  6. The only online function “Update Security prices” is intermittent at best. Since the download hasn’t changed, I don’t expect it to be better in a new version.

  7. Thank God that I was unable to import my info from microsoft money….Knock on wood, I have been using Money 2001 (I think), and don’t plan on changing or upgrading.

  8. I’m a Quicken user and have been for many years…after reading this, I will not upgrade or buy Quicken again!

  9. This policy is ridiculous. If they stated it clearly and up front, it would be different, but they do not.
    Luckily, my downloads come directly from the bank, so Quicken does not have to download it, only open and import it.

  10. How’s connecting to YOUR bank to download YOUR financial data a burden on Quicken? I can understand them discontinuing support if users have problems with that feature of the software. Just like Microsoft will tell you to buzz off if you call with Windows 95 networking issues. But Microsoft didn’t disable the software.

    Anyway, Quicken is a POS. I use MS Money and I still use the 2003 version with no problems.

  11. Another “feature” of versions past 2005 is the inability to import QIF files “for your protection”.

    IIRC 2005 wouldn’t allow it for “Bank” and “Credit Card” accounts. 2006+ removes the feature for other accounts, like “cash” accounts.

    The dropping of the text based QIF forces institutions to use the digitally signed encrypted formats. Of course to get a signing key, those institutions must pay Intuit.

  12. Money has the same sunset policy. Money 2004 and Money 2005 expired in 2007. MS is limiting online functionality of future versions going forward to two years.

    I agree that there should be no reason why software that I use to communicate with my bank should suddenly decide to stop working, but there’s no one out there that’ll sell a product like this absent a sunset policy.

  13. I gave up on these softwares a few years back and now do my own spreadsheets in Excel with Graphs to know where everything is. I do not get the quick downloads but if you keep up with it daily you do not need it. I will not support a company whose policies are to make defunct a software I just bought within a few years. I gave this website to some friends who used Quicken and they are not going to support them anymore either. It is like some of the new game companies who only allow 2 installations of a game and then will not let you register anymore. Will not buy it or participate in the madness.

  14. While I can understand the business side of sunset policies and limitations with digital property, I believe it just laziness on the part of businesses that cause this problem.

    If newer versions of software offered features that prior versions did not, people would upgrade. When you’re just changing the name from 2007 to 2008 with no major upgrade in features, people stick with what they have.

    Companies are lazy and greedy and instead of spending their time and energy on further development of their products, they think of ways to maximize the cost to the consumer while minimizing their costs.

  15. I’m a CPA and I can tell you flat-out that Intuit has been doing this disreputable sunsetting of it’s products for years. They’ve also made a scam out of payroll tax table updates, including turning off your payroll in such a manner that the module become useless and you have to either use stand-alone, or pay $300 a year to “renew” the payroll function that has no substantive changes. (I’ll spare the analysis too much, but except for the FICA wage base change, which should be resettable by hand, it actually doesn’t really matter that much as the bracket creep is relatively small.) Further, except for adding in cripple-ware code and pop-ups to sell you services, they make no substantive changes to their programs to justify these sunsets.

    It’s all about raking in the money.

    Personally, as a CPA I have to support Quickbooks because too many people are on it and it’d be business suicide to not. But I recommend to anyone starting a new business in the next couple of years, find a Company other than Intuit for accounting software. Their product is very crappy and massively over-priced and everything about them is designed to sell you supplemental services, like on-line payroll, over-priced forms and what-not.

  16. Wow! Not one positive word about this undermining policy. I wonder if they’ll change their tune after everyone moved on to other products…

    Meanwhile, I like the Excel idea for simpler money-tracking. Works for my small business.

  17. I find this practice similar to that of Microsoft with their operating systems. I’m quite pleased with the performance of Win XP. I haven’t seen a “blue screen of death” ever, on my desktop or my laptop. Now, if I want to buy a new computer, I’ll have to “upgrade” [?!] to Vista, which I hear has some performance issues. Whether they are minor problems, I don’t care; I have no problem with XP and I don’t feel the need for enhanced media handling yadda yadda. While MS doesn’t say that you’ll be SOL if you stick with XP, they’re forcing my hand by blocking my path to new equipment.

    Sucko.

    Hello, Linux? (Asus EEE or the like is on my wishlist.)

  18. I have QuickBooks on my computer for my business use. I used to have the 2003 version, but had to upgrade to 2006 when the crippleware took effect.

    I use the email invoices feature, which uses Intuit’s servers to create and email a .pdf copy of my invoices or statements. Since I want to use this feature, I had to upgrade when it expires.

    But, I got the last laugh this time: My 2003 edition was QuickBooks Contractor edition, and when I upgraded, I chose their standard less-costly QuickBooks Pro. Intuit of course cried foul at the prospect of providing me with a ½-price upgrade sqwaking about loss of other features, etc. But I didn’t need all those other “features” and did not feel like paying for them again, especially after being compelled like I did at the time. FWIW, I would not recommend the Contractor’s Edition of QuickBooks Pro unless you have someone on staff full-time to enter in a bunch of useless nickel-and-dime figures for cost analysis. I simply don’t have the time.

    One more thing: I ended up giving away my old copy of 2003 software to a friend who has a new business and did not need any online features. He has been able to use it just fine, thank-you-very-much! LOL

    Bottom line is if you don’t use or need their online features, the software will still work just fine.

  19. As long as people keep buying Intuit products, this will keep happening. These days, for so many companies, it’s no longer about delighting the customer; it’s about screwing him, again and again, until he’s had enough and leaves. I was thinking about this last night while watching advertisements (not trailers; *advertisements*) at a movie theater that had just jacked up its prices by nearly ten percent.

  20. Does anyone know if we will still be able to manually import data from our financial institutions into Quicken 2005? Is it only the one step, automatic download of accounts that is being disabled, or is all ability to import being removed? I can live with the discontinuation of the automatic process, but if all of it is being removed I say class action is a reasonable next step. Anyone?

  21. It is QUITE obvious to all that this is Intuit’s method of ensuring a
    revenue flow, nothing less, but it’s worse than that. I was a happy user
    of Quicken Home and Small Bus. 2004 when I was forced to “upgrade” to
    2007, and while 2004 worked perfectly, and I was used to it, 2007 is
    FILLED with bugs, is slow and clunky, and offer ZERO real benefit. Graphs
    display wrong, and categories now have strange letters inserted after them.
    As for the promise of “live Tech support” hahahahaha, please, as anyone
    whose tried to get tech support from Intuit can tell you, it’s as worthless
    as a screen door on a Submarine.

  22. BTW, when you are forced to “downgrade” Quicken, buy it from Amazon Marketplace or Ebay. Why should the
    thieves make more money from you?

  23. I just bought a 2008 — couldn’t load the old quicken with Vista — now i get pop ups every time i use the program, is there a way to stop the pop up?

  24. I think the downloads initiated from the institution will stop too. I’m currently trying to find out for sure but I’ve started getting the popups when starting a download from my bank online site. Even worse, if I grab 1 month then another another, I also get a second popup.

    I see complaints about MS above but does anyone know for sure that whatever download Money has is stopped like this?

    BTW, you can still buy XP and can for a little while longer. I’m not sure what the date is, but it discontinues sometime later this year. Biggest concern might be activation.

  25. So if you bought Quicken in April 2005 you get 36 months of use, but if you bought it in January 2005 you get 40 months of use. This seems very deceptive. If they did not clearly inform consumers who bought the software late in 2005 it seems to me they are owed a partial refund.

  26. I got this notice a few days ago while updating my Quicken 2005 files and it really ticks me off. This happened once before which forced me to upgrade at the time.

    What also annoys me is the money I’ve wasted on four versions of Quicken for Windows and Mac in the past five years. Their version of Quicken for the Mac is poor compared to the Windows version. I’ve actually downgraded to Quicken 2005 for Windows to run on Parallels because Quicken 2006 for Mac was so bad. I didn’t upgrade to Quicken 2007 for Mac because the reviews were horrible.

    I’m seriously thinking about dropping Intuit altogether.

  27. I agree, this is outrageous. I wouldn’t be as angry if ‘O5 wasn’t my second version of Quicken…Because of this crap, I’m determined to swear off Intuit products altogether (are you listening, Intuit?) So, here’s hoping someone gets a class action suit together, but in the meantime:

    Does anyone have experience with Microsoft Money? (hate to keep buying into the Dark Empire, but whaddya gonna do.) Does it have problems converting QIF files? Most important, does it have the same crippleware components?

    Has anyone tried Mint.com, a free online financial management downloader? PC Mag was very high on it, but I had problems getting it to connect to my bank account.

    Any other recommendations for an alternative? I use Quicken only for my checking account, and connecting online.

    Thanks all.

  28. Sorry to say but what we need is a class action lawsuit. I have been receiving the sunset notice as well as notices to upgrade to keep my stock download functionality. Unfortunately I forked over the cash and upgraded. Well the new version of Quicken will not download the stock data. Their website is riddled with users complaining of this inability. To me this is a deceptive practice and is fraudulent. They inform users of the approaching sunset, have them purchase a new product and not provide the stated functionality.

    What we need is action!

  29. To make things worse, I just discovered this “feature” when Quicken 2005 suddenly would not import transactions from my bank. No prior notices, no pop-ups, it just suddenly quit working, and it was only after some online searching that I was able to track down the cause. Pathetic. I had already dumped Turbo Tax, Quicken is next.

  30. “Daytimer” offered a computer calader years ago and it would go blank after a few years too. same plan, you need to keep paying money to keep using something you own.

  31. I have used Quicken 2006 to track my portfolio. To date I cannot do so and they have my watchlist which they will not give to me….nor will they give me my portfolio information as I had entered it on my watchlist. They claim they don’t have my watchlist (compiled with many hours of constant work. Ihave lost thousands of dollars in not being able to act in a timely way. They claim they are ‘migrating’ their website and all will be well eventually. In the process they managed to extract my mother’s maiden name from me. I truly believe a huge class action is brewing here and look forward to hearing from others who are experiencing the same problems. It feel like identity theft.merooney

  32. Sitting at your computers crying into your keyboard isn’t going to help the situation folks.
    What is needed here is a “fix”.

    If someone knows a cheap or free way to take the current qif version and reformat it to older versions, that’s what needs to be posted.

    Work on that a while.

  33. In email correspondence on 3/6/09 with Bob Meighan, VP at Quicken, he assured me that Quicken for Mac 2006 is not being retired, only Quicken 2006 for PCs. This should be hopeful news for any of us waiting for Quicken 2009 for Mac.

  34. I’m mad too, but I’ve upgraded this one last time. Chose CD to avoid problems downloading. I have 3 years from now to learn how to use my copy of excel (which doesn’t require repurchasing). My motto during this recession is “when they ask for more, give them less”…

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