January 17, 2005

SlowBooks Amateur 2005 for Macintosh

I bought a license for Intuit's QuickBooks Pro 2005 for Macintosh back in November and am finally getting around to installing it on my machine.

Thought it'd be a simple matter, really. No, turns out not to have been.

Popped the CD in the drive, up came the folders to drag over into my machine's Apps folder. No problem, worked fine.

Then I went to fire up QuickBooks Pro. Up it came, no problem. Then there was a dialog box, asking me to "Register Now" or "Remind Me Later". I clicked "Register Now."

Up comes a dialog box asking for the "Installation Key Code." "To continue," it said, "enter your key code." So I reached for the plastic sleeve that the CD came in, noticed the yellow sticker with the key code on it, typed in the code, and clicked OK.


Ok, so maybe I made a typo. It's a long sequence of numbers. So I re-entered it. And got the same "Warning" dialog box. To prove I wasn't making a mistake, I selected the typed code from the dialog box, copied it, and then opened up a new TextEdit document, pasted the code in there, pressed ENTER a bunch of times, then reading from the yellow sticker I typed the code in again. Then I deleted all the blank lines so both codes were lined up right on top of each other. And they were identical.

So I got on the phone.

The number's right on the back of the packaging. "Expert Telephone Support," the heading reads. The little blurb below that said they're open Monday - Friday, 6am to 6pm Pacific Time. So I dialed the 888 number and waited.

A pleasant recorded woman's voice asked me to type in my ten digit business phone number including area code.

I typed it in.

"We're sorry, but that is an invalid business number," said the recording. (WTF!?) "Please enter your ten digit business phone number, including area code."

I typed it in again. Got the same complaint. It asked me to enter it again. This time I did not. I just pressed #.

"Please wait for the next available customer support representative."

I waited perhaps 30 seconds max, and a voice came on. "Can I get your name?" the man asked.

I gave him my name.

"What seems to be the problem, man?"

I told him the problem. I said I was typing in the correct Key Code as shown on the yellow sticker on the packaging.

"Ok," he said, mumbling, as if his thoughts were racing what to do, and not knowing at all what to do. "Ok so can you give me product code or a group code or something I can look up."

"I have the invoice right here. How about the Customer Number?" I said. "Or, Order Number?"

"Can you give me a product code or group code. I need product code or group code, do you see that anywhere?" Loud, awful coughing sounds on his end of the phone.

"Um, where should I be looking? I don't see any such numbers on the invoice here."

"Can you go to the Help menu and click on About?"

"No, can't do that. There's no About in the Help menu. Um, this is a Mac."

"No About menu?"

"About's in the Quickbooks menu. I just clicked there. What would you like me to read to you?"

"What numbers do you see."

"Um, it says Version 7.0f1"

(long pause, then) "Try pressing Control-Alt . . . uh . . . Control-Alt . . . Control Alt F1, man, or something . . . " He seemed to have lost his train of thought.

"Um, this is a Mac. There's no Alt key."

"There's an Apple key right? Hit Control Apple 1."

"Um, well, ok." I hit Control Apple 1, knowing full well this was pointless, but I was kind of curious: if it worked, would it reveal some Easter Egg messaging on the About menu?

No, it doesn't. What it does do is open up a blinking input cursor at the far upper left of the About window. A cursor you can type with. So I started typing stuff, seeing if somethign would happen if I typed all the way over to the far right --- would it wrap? No. No wrap.

So I told him it didn't do anything. (Why complicate matters?)

He coughed, horribly, once again. "You're not in the system, so I can't do anything. I need to get you into the system. I need a product code or group registration number in order to find out what your Key Code is."

I clicked the little round button to close the About window. Oops. It crashed Quicken Professional 2005 Macintosh Edition. Another dialog box came up to report the crash, er, unexpected error. I dismissed this dialog, and proceeded to dismiss this tech support person.

Another horrible cough. "I should transfer you over to the Apple Macintosh Customer Care Team."

(No shit, I thought.) "Okay."

"But there's a problem. Um . . . y'know somethin' . . . . where is it. . . . " The sound of pages flipping. "Can't believe the registration process . . . See, the support groups are closed tonight because it's Martin Luther King Night."

"Look, I'll just call back tomorrow, it's no big deal, I'd rather just get back to work and deal with this tomorrow."

"Ok I'll transfer you to the Macintosh Customer Care team. . . . just need a Case Number . . . . take a split second . . . " Long pause. "There's nothing here, we don't have nothing in this system. Mac users are so few and far between . . . " Another pause. "I'll transfer you over to the Mac division. See, there's a conflict of interest here." He couldn't just transfer me over, he had to re-live the reasons why he couldn't solve the problem. Lots of "Like I said"s were said. I tuned out. Then he said, "I apologize, and good luck over at the Mac group."


With that, he transferred me. Then I heard new, happy woman's recorded voice, asking me to hold. Some happy elevator music. And then, a new voice, man's voice, Indian accent.

"Good evening can I get your first name?"


"And your telephone number?"

"I'll give it to you but I'm not in your system, so . . . " I gave him the ten-digit number.

"EVDB, is it?" he asked.

I was amazed.

"Uh, yes."

"What is the problem?"

I told him the problem all over again.

He suddenly came to a terrible realization. "Oh, Mac?" he asked. "I'm very sorry. We have a dedicated department for Macintosh, but Macintosh is not working here, they are closed..."

"Fine how about I just call back tomorrow."

"Fine," he said, quickly, and hung up. Click.

Thus ends this customer's first experience with QuickBooks Professional 2005 for Macintosh.

Can it get worse?

UPDATE 18 Jan 2005: I've posted a follow-up to this story in the next blog entry.

Posted by brian at January 17, 2005 06:27 PM


Hmmm. You know, I'd been contemplating buying Quicken 2005 (or whatever the latest version is) for the Mac since pretty much the only reason I ever use my Windows PC anymore is to run Quicken. Your experience with Intuit's customer support doesn't fill me with confidence.

Posted by: Lyle at January 18, 2005 07:20 AM

QuickBooks online is another alternative for you other than the client/Pro version. Saves you from th e install, etc. processes. Never used the payroll feature of the online version, but the Pro version is pretty slick if you can get through all of the hoops necessary to get up and running (can be difficult esp. in a period where you have payroll split across two systems in one year).

Posted by: Steve Shu at January 18, 2005 07:55 AM

So what your telling me is that they need to change the name to "Not-So-Quickbooks-not-so-quasi-Pro 2005"

Posted by: levin at January 18, 2005 09:22 AM

I am continually amazed at the low level of customer service most companies provide. It is one of the easiest things to be good at and it rarely happens.

Posted by: Brandon at January 18, 2005 12:36 PM

Steve, I looked into the Online version earlier, this is what they've got on their website about it:

"Is there a Macintosh version?
Not at this time. Online Edition requires an IBM-compatible personal computer with a Windows-based operating system."

I've been waiting for the online mac version... ...but after reading this post, I don't think I'll bother.

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2005 08:44 AM

I'm surprised the online edition requires special stuff. It's just a web app, right?

Posted by: Steve Shu at January 19, 2005 04:05 PM

brianstorms is Brian Dear's weblog. Non-spam email:

Be sure to take a look at these other fine websites:

Copyright 2002-2003 Birdrock Ventures. brianstorms is a trademark of Birdrock Ventures.