Quickbooks sunset policy left me in the dark

Quickbooks and Intuit products in general come with a “sunset policy” which means that after about 3 years they can’t exactly turn off your program but they won’t provide any technical support nor will they allow you to do any online activities such as payroll or banking. They give you three years on a product before they throw the kill switch. This year’s sunset was on May 31st. It’s now June 7th and I still don’t have access to my data due to a comedy of errors and mistakes from the Intuit team.

I have been happily using Quickbooks 2008 for Windows for a few years and knew this day was coming, so I purchased the new copy and planned the install for Memorial Day weekend. I actually decided I needed a new PC since my Quickbooks system was pretty old. Everything installed just fine, I ran all the updates and then formally closed out May in Quickbooks 2008. No problems! I backed my data file up and copied it to the new PC.

Quickbooks 2011 asked to upgrade the data from 2008. This is the data that was working perfectly! Quickbooks then threw up a generic error that said the file couldn’t be upgraded. Weird! Ok, I do general computer support for a living, I should be able to resolve it, or so I thought.

First I figured it must be my install, so I downloaded Quickbooks 2011 to a new computer: still no upgrade. I tried all different formats of backup files from Quickbooks (portable copy, backup, and so on). Still, errors opening in 2011. The one thing I tried that *did* work is that the file opened perfectly on Quickbooks 2009, 2010, and 2011 for the Mac! I tried backing up from those installs and opening in the 2011 PC version–still no dice.

I called Quickbooks technical support. Wow. I know there are language barriers sometimes with off -shored support, but this was some of the worst I’ve experienced. They argued with me constantly, though it might simply be the language and cultural barriers, but they simply didn’t believe the file worked in 2008. They eventually demanded remote control of my computer and I was leery of giving a complete stranger half way across the world access to client files, but I didn’t have a choice.

Eventually, they wanted me to prove that it worked in 2008 and remoted into that machine as well. Finally we were getting somewhere, or so I thought. The good news is that the tech tried every trick I tried to get the file working (though ignored the fact it worked on the Mac). Almost two hours after being on the phone with them she said “the file was unusable”. Again, this is a file perfectly usable in 2008 and all Mac versions.

I spoke with a supervisor, and another 60 minutes later he did the exact same things the first rep did. However this time he uploaded the file to Intuit’s file recovery service. They are the “ICU” of Quickbooks files and he *guaranteed* multiple times it would be fixed within 2 business days (3 calendar days due to the holiday).

What I noticed was this file upload service was not secure (notice no https) so this was at huge risk to me…but what choice did I have? It’s also interesting he agreed to the “terms of service” on my behalf. The upload requires the current email address, a case number and an assigned pin. No password, just a alpha-numeric case sensitive string.

On Wednesday I got an unintelligible call and it took me a good 15 minutes to understand it was Intuit Data Services calling to tell me my file was irreparably damaged and could not be recovered, but that’s “no problem” Some guarantee. After about 20 minutes of the phone I realized that they thought the file was a 2011 file instead of 2008. He simply couldn’t understand what I would be working on a 2008 file. They emailed me and then I understood better. Eventually I uploaded the file again and proved to him it was a 2008 file. What was horribly annoying is he said losing data was no problem. Ouch. Tell that to the IRS.

Fortunately I got an email the next day that the file was ready to be downloaded. I downloaded it as now it was already into June and I was behind on paperwork. I followed the upgrade and recovery instructions and the instructions said the file had a password which was my account number. Random assword? Account number? I was given neither. The file didn’t have a password before!

This began my long and currently unsuccessful request to get my data back. I emailed them requesting my account number and they said for security reasons they can only give it on the phone. Huh? They don’t even use secure transport and now worry about the password to my file! (notice no https in this image from the file transfer center)

Ok, so I ask them to call me on my mobile. The problem is though when I registered the program, I used another phone number that is voice mail only. I don’t want sales people calling me. Big mistake with Intuit.

They wouldn’t call my mobile to give me my password, only the number that is registered. Moreover they said they can’t leave the password on voice mail, they must give it directly to me and I should call technical support. I call technical support, they say I must speak with the data recovery, but they cannot be reached by phone, only voice mail or email. So I email and voicemail them. Here’s one voice where they simply tell me to “get it done”
06-02-2011_06-36PM According to voice mail logs, they left about 18 message with me, and that doesn’t count the dropped calls and times where they didn’t leave a message.

Occasionally they’d call my mobile (finally, getting somewhere) and told me if I’d give them a time to call, they’d call me. Problem is they didn’t. I’d leave windows of time open for them to call and they wouldn’t call back. Whenever they’d call I’d either not switch over in time, I’d miss the call, or the call would drop when I picked up. The call is travelling half way around the world after all.

I’d call tech support and be told that I must email the “ICU” people or leave them a voicemail. The ICU people would call and tell me to call tech support. And around and around we go, where it stops only Intuit knows.

This cat and mouse went on for about a week replete with lots of misunderstandings from their support as to what I was requesting and why. Yes I know my file was corrupt, yes I know I need a pin to download, yes I know the file needs to be upgraded. All I’m asking for is a password.

I tried tweeting and while @quickbooks was initially helpful, @intuit send me follower spam. The twitter team apparently gave up on me and didn’t respond. Ironically lots of spammers were helpful and more than one person suggested Peachtree accounting, which incidentally imported the file just fine.

Today I was greeted with a message that my case was closed and I must start a new case. That’s an interesting way of dealing with the problem.

I wish I could do that in my job. No I don’t. I actually try to help people. For those that have been through a Quickbooks sunset, I feel your pain. Hopefully your experiences are better than mine–and you’d think with my technical skills I’d have better luck. No amount of technical skills or patience can prepare you for the Kafkaesque (how often do I get to use that word) experience of dealing with Quickbooks

With all due respect to Mel Gibson (actually he isn’t due much respect lately).


I’m posting this in hopes someone somewhere knows how to crack the password or can get me in touch with the right people. I’m at wits end here!

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