Rant about Quicken

Quicken, the financial software from Intuit, is the only electronic application (whether software, hardware, in-between-ware, or cabana wear), with which I have a love-hate relationship.

I love Quicken because it allows me to still prepare my own income tax return. In 42 years of filing tax returns, I’ve taken a perverse pride in bucking the establishment system, which is designed to gradually, insidiously wean us away from financial independence and literacy by making more and more financial dealings so complicated that most of us throw up our hands in frustration when we’re faced with a mass of forms to read, understand, fill out, and sign before we can transact anything more complicated than buying a latte on the way to work.

I hate Quicken because once they became the only game in town, financial software-wise, they started coasting and letting the program rest on its previous laurels. No improvements, no simplification, no added features that would really mean a lot for guys like me who  have a fairly complicated tax return thanks to numerous accounts and “exotic” investments I’ve made like stock options, ETFs, closed-end mutual funds, and even some currency and commodity futures investments.

But this year is the last straw. Quicken recently came out with its 2016 version and frankly, it sucks. At least, my two copies suck. I bought a hard copy, installed it, and had phantom transactions loading into my registers, regular freezes, multiple entries of the same transaction, and certain transactions that, according to Quicken, were made days before I ever opened the frickin’ account!

Here’s but one example of my frustration: I rolled over my wife’s 401k from her employer (she retired at the end of 2015) into a rollover IRA with Vanguard. Simple enough, right? The money reached Vanguard and was deposited into a money-market mutual fund on Feb. 2, 2016. A variety of stocks and bonds were bought AFTER that date. When I downloaded my transactions from Vanguard to Quicken, the little program gremlins in both copies I’ve tried (one hard disk, one direct download from the Quicken website) insisted that a stock I bought on March 10, 2016, was in fact already in the account on Feb. 1, 2016. A month and several days before I bought the stock, and a day before I even opened the account.

That wouldn’t have been a problem if I had been allowed to change the date to the correct one. But, NO-O-O-O! Can’t be done. Repeated tries at deleting the new account from Quicken and starting again brought the same result. The only option is to delete the transaction and enter it manually, which kind of defeats the purpose and convenience of automatically downloading data from one’s financial institution.

After wrangling with the program for the better part of 4 weekend days, I finally managed to straighten out my accounts so hopefully next year at tax time, I can just push the proverbial “enter” button and voila, fill out my tax return on Turbo Tax (which seems to still work reasonably well).

If that weren’t bad enough, Quicken made several “improvements” that actually make it more difficult to do mundane tasks like entering purchases into a register. Instead of filling in the date, payee, amount, and category, then pressing “enter” once and moving to the next transaction, we now must manually click on the “Save” button to enter that transaction. Not a big deal unless you’re entering a week’s worth of transactions and each one requires two or three extra clicks than it used to.

Perhaps worst of all, after how many decades of selling this product, the help section on Quicken is next to worthless. No explanations are given about why certain features are there as if we’re supposed to know why we have a problem in the first place. Clicking on links that purport to further explain a topic end up muddying the topic. Phone support is only M-F for about 12 hours, and chat line support usually has a wait time of 5-30 minutes, and communicating by chat is about as fast as sending smoke signals back and forth.

I’m done ranting and done messing with Quicken for a while. I’ll probably muddle through, but if there were a decent alternative out there that is geared toward the more sophisticated investor and doesn’t require hiring an accounting genius programmer to design, I would jump the sinking HMS Quicken even before they started deploying the lifeboats. Going to my brother-in-law’s funeral later this week will be more enjoyable than the 30 or 40 hours of my life I just wasted dealing with inferior technology.

MY QUESTION to you: What bit of technology has driven you batty in the past year or so and why?

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