Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, May 29, 2009

May Stumbles

It is unreal how fast time passes when you get old…not that I’m often moved to seize the day. I spent more time this week working on my garden, cleaning gutters, mowing the lawn, and puttering around the house…and suddenly it’s Friday again. I will knuckle down next week, when Fathers Day season starts.

May’s numbers are at the bottom of this post.

Advanta lowered the boom, as I knew they would do. My Mastercard is cut off from new borrowing as of tomorrow, and I don’t have a replacement for it yet. I just reactivated my personal Chase card in QuickBooks.

Speaking of QuickBooks, Intuit also lowered a boom that I wasn’t expecting. They only support QB for three years, so my QB 2006 goes obsolete on the same day that my credit card dies. Intuit will not only stop supporting my copy, but will cripple some of its features (payroll being the only one that affects me).

OK, fine. I understand that they have to limit backwards support and compel new sales. When I went to buy a copy, though, I was surprised to see that over 200 reviews on Amazon rated it just two stars.

Here’s what Intuit’s customers hate most about their product:

1. Registering the product requires a phone call. You have to spend 15 minutes giving an Indian call center proprietary company information and listening to multiple sales pitches before you get your registration code. Online registration is no longer supported.

2. The product was patched seven times (so far), requiring about 200 MB of downloads, restarts, etc. If you open your company file before you complete this process, you might destroy your company file.

3. Once you open your company file in 2009, you can no longer revert to 2006. Several users complained that their company file was damaged during conversion and could not be opened anyway.

4. If you have trouble with any of the preceding, Intuit tries to charge you for tech support. There was a lengthy explanation about Microsoft .NET, which I didn't understand. Oh, and a couple people said they had to reinstall Firefox.

5. Intuit added numerous nag screens, advertising popups, and sales menus. You can disable them, but they come back every time you restart the program. (This was true in 2006, too, until a patch finally fixed that toggle. It is extremely aggravating when a program that you've already paid for keeps spamming you with ads).

6. Intuit added about a dozen new features that few users care about (I sure don't). The bloated program brings older computers to their knees -- it can take half an hour just to load up and open the company file. Several users complained that they had to replace their computers. (Mine is four years old and QB 2006 already runs like a dog, so that's of major concern).

7. Intuit weakened some older features, such as online banking and automatic credit card reconciliation. (I don't use these functions myself). They also changed some previously-included features to paid add-ons. There were a LOT of complaints about payroll, but I don't know if they were talking about the paid payroll service or the built-in paycheck program that I use; I certainly do need the rudimentary payroll functionality that I already have.

8. The interface is more cluttered and the program is significantly harder to use in general.

There are no practical alternatives to playing Intuit’s "upgrade" game, which is obviously why they can get away with it. Eight major patches have reportedly fixed the most egregious bugs, so the new version should not be substantially worse than the old one. It’ll just run like crap and be harder to use. Yesterday I coughed up $100 for this unwanted piece of bloatware.


May was a lousy month, the weakest of 2009. Costs (mainly advertising and payroll, but really across the board) are up while revenue is flat. You can see that I'm paying myself more in salary at the expense of my year-end profit.

Total income: +1.2%
Total COGS: +31.5% (ouch)
Payroll: +84.6
Net Income (Profit): -152.3%

The YTD numbers:

Total income: +26.7%
Total COGS: +30.9%
Payroll: +50.8%
Net Income (Profit): -77.3%

June will surely be worse, because June 2008 included one sale for nearly $2,000 worth of lighted caps and another for over $400 worth of Switchables. Unless lightning strikes twice again this year, the YTD numbers are going to plunge next month.

Take away my credit card, cripple my accounting software, and give me an impossible sales plan. It’s going to be an ugly summer.


  1. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Ken, it looks like May was unkind; I hope the summer improves. I’ve been randomly reading some of your blogs and have a few thoughts.

    While you’re not in spending mode now, I agree with your SCORE rep that investing in SEO would be useful. Here’s how another business did it.

    Have you thought about adding some complementary keywords and description Meta tags to your Curious Business site? You might try opening your store link in a separate browser window so people can toggle back and forth.

    You said that you don’t want people selling to you; however this could be a good time to consider Peachtree Accounting. Yes, our obsolescence policy is the same as QuickBooks, but Peachtree Complete Accounting 2009 got 4 stars on Amazon.com and our latest release (not yet available on Amazon) got 5 out of 5 stars from The CPA Technology Advisor.

    In the last two years we’ve addressed some of the concerns you listed for QuickBooks.
    • You can register your Peachtree product online
    • Information is available for GL and financial statement reporting purposes for all closed years
    • We’ve enhanced payroll setup and employee recordkeeping
    • The cash flow manager and Peachtree Business Analytics tools provide more insight into your business
    • And, yes, we keep adding features, but we make it easier for you to customize the product and get to the info you need faster

    Want more info? Read what our users are saying on the Peachtree Community. And learn about switching from QuickBooks to Peachtree here.

    I’ll be following your progress and hoping for a great summer. If nothing else, your garden should be great!

    Shari Willman
    Peachtree Product Manager

  2. Shari, thanks for your interest in Curio City and for your comments. My CPA opined that, since Intuit had finally patched QuickBooks up to miminal standards, it was not worth my trouble to move to Peachtree (I did consider it).

    I've already reluctantly purchased QB 2009, although I haven't needed to install it yet. Apparently disabling the auto-updater prevented Intuit from crippling my 2006 program -- it still seems to be fully functional, anyway. I will probably install QB 2009 next week regardless. One must keep up.

    I don't think Google gives Blogger users access to meta tags or any HTML other than posts. I only ever use the WYSIWYG editor and drag-and-drop templates, so I'm not sure about that. I'm weak on the technical aspects.

    Thanks again for taking an interest in my business. I hope that you'll continue to enjoy reading Curious Business. And if Intuit hasn't reformed their arrogant attitude by 2012, I might still switch to Peachtree the next time they force the issue.


What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search