Part of being an IT geek means keeping up with modern software so that you can advise your customers about what’s new and useful to them.

Every business needs some kind of accounting and book keeping, and Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop Pro has suited my own business well for the last few years.
Intuit, also provide an in-the-cloud solution called QuickBooks Online which looks pretty groovy:

So, this is something I wanted to know more about, so that my own business could benefit and I could advise my customers of what I hoped would be a great service to benefit their businesses too.

Signing up

At a first glance this service looks pretty nifty and was enough to convince me to sign up for  their special offer of £9.12 (inc VAT) a month
I think there were some tech problems, as the sign up process didn’t work first time round for me, it told me there was “an error” and asked me to “try again”, but in the end I got in and all seemed good.

However, a few days later I got two separate invoices from Intuit, each for £9.12 and realised there was a small problem.
Having looked on the QuickBooks web site, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to speak to somebody about a financial problem and I ended up getting stuck in an automated phone message system, being told “reception’s voicemail was not available” and after ringing back again, being put on endless hold (not the best start at trying to get in touch with Intuit)

Anyway, persistence paid off and after getting straight through to their sales line, they transferred me directly to tech support – who took note of the problem and promised to investigate it.

Resolving a small problem

Six days later (not the best response time!) Intuit eventually got back in touch to confirm there was a problem and promised me that they’d credit the £9.12 – fair enough you’d think, a small mistake easily resolved – that’d be an end to the matter.

Or so you’d think…

The following day I got an email promising a credit for £5.03 (Not sure where this figure came from?!) so I got back in touch with customer services yet again to explain some of the credit was missing
Another couple of days later I got another email promising a credit of £4.02
…now I’m no financial whiz but I couldn’t get £4.02 and £5.03 to add up to £9.12 – which is slightly worrying when you consider these figures have come from a company puporting to specialise in software for Accountancy

7pBy my schoolboy maths, there seemed to be a defecit of 7p.
Now, please do ask yourself dear reader, what would you have done here – is it worth the effort of even ringing up to get 7p back?
I decided to open a discussion on Facebook with my friends and I felt encouraged that people seemed to agree I should stick at this as a matter of principle.

Escalating things in Intuit

At this time I felt I’d pretty much exhausted Intuit’s customer service options, so tried to figure out how to escalate things.
I had a good hunt round the Intuit web site and found some email addresses for the Press office but they didn’t really seem like the right kind of people to help sort out a matter of a missing 7p, so I carried on hunting for a more likely contact.
The Internet is full of really good information and having a web site is a good opportunity to share useful information, not just about your products, but also about your company and the people that work there (especially if you want your customers to think of you as people rather than a corporate product-producing machine!), although the only details of a senior contact anywhere at Intuit I could find was on a third party’s web site with contact details for Intuit’s USA Chief Executive Officer Brad Smith

Since then Intuit have improved their web site and added a number to contact for all other enquiries, call 0808 168 9533 – well done!

So, I dropped a light hearted email off to Mr Smith just to share my experiences of Intuit UK with him – not thinking he’d really be interested in some minor issue of 7p in Intuit UK – and copied in the press contacts too just for good measure.

Credit where Credit’s Due

To give Mr Smith his dues, he very kindly wrote back to me apologising and passing on the details to some senior people in the UK who also got in touch.

Our team really does care about delivering a delightful experience, and will see this an an opportunity to learn and improve

In fact, in less than 24 hours of sending that message to Mr Smith I was inundated with emails, tweets, missed calls and voicemails from a whole host of people Intuit all very apologetic and wanting to sort the problem out.
I even got an email from Rich Preece, UK VP & Managing Director of Intuit

I share Brad’s disappointment and I can assure you that we will look at your feedback and take the necessary steps to ensure that we improve the areas of our process that are clearly broken

Clearly Brad can pull some strings!!

And, although I haven’t tested all of the particular areas that I’ve had problems with before for a second time – I do believe they genuinely meant to improve those particular issues.

I wrote back to Brad, Rich and others thanking them for their responses and told them that rather than just giving up on QuickBooks I genuinely wanted to give their company and software a fair chance and not let some administrative problems get in the way, so I told them now that I’d seen the very worst of Intuit, I wanted to give them the chance to show me the very best of Intuit and impress me!

Somebody at Intuit put wheels into motion quickly and I spoke to some great people in their UK customer services who promised a few things:

  • 3 Credits of £9.12 in addition to the other credit of £9.05 – totaling £36.41
  • Free transfer of 2 years of business data from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks online – worth £180
  • Free 12 months subscription to QuickBooks Online – worth £108.84
  • In fact, they even offered a paid trip to come down to Intuit Head Office in London to talk about how QuickBooks could be improved

Well played Intuit, at this point it *seemed* like they really had turned things around there, and I was beginning to feel impressed.

 

The Very Best of Intuit

Four weeks later (and now 3 months after originally signing up) my accounting data has been moved across and I am now using QuickBooks online.

I have now paid out a total of 4 x £9.12 (£36.48) – because the invoices and direct payments taken by Intuit have not yet stopped – and there’s been no further mention of 12 months free subscription!
But in fairness, I did eventually receive the £36.41 they promised in credits, and spoke to some very helpful people who arranged these credits.
….but guess what – all the credits have been cancelled out by my payments, and I’m exactly back where I started 3 months ago with Intuit still oweing me 7p !!!!

freemoveTo give Intuit their dues, true to their word, two years of data transfer did happen via MoveMyBooks
Again, I spoke to somebody helpful who walked me through the process of filling in the web page on the MoveMyBooks site.
I’ll write more about this in a separate blog post as even that wasn’t as simple as it sounds!
….although I should also point out that at the time they had a special offer and that service turned out to be free – not £180 – which seemed to cheapen what Intuit were offering as some kind of an apology.

And as I said, there is still no sign of the free 12 month subscription to QuickBooks Online
Although the people that I spoke to promising me this were lovely.

I also decided to politely decline their offer of a trip down to London and talk to them about how QuickBooks could be improved
….whilst the shiny bright lights of the big smoke did seem attractive at first, it didn’t seem fair to give Intuit a day of my consultancy for free, when all my other customers have to pay for it!

So after asking Intuit to show me their very best and impress me – that’s what they came up with.

 

Conclusion

Countless hours, phone calls and emails have been spent on this up to now and I’ve decided not to chase QuickBooks customer services for the 7p this time round
I just can’t see how investing any more of my time in their company is actually going to benefit me
My efforts so far haven’t made the slightest difference in anything from my side up to now – despite me kicking up a fuss with the Intuit bigwigs.
So I’ve decided to write this blog instead
Although I will send a link to this post off to Brad and Rich as it seems only fair to tell them this to their faces.
And in the interest of fairness I’ll also happily publish any response that Intuit want to provide (over to you guys!)

Also, lets not forget that despite the administrative nightmare, the bottom line is that I am now using QuickBooks Online.
Something I could probably have spent much less time and effort just doing myself – without speaking to Intuit.
And in fairness, so far my experiences have left me thinking that the product itself is quite a good, I’ve written a separate blog about it here.

Intuit’s products aside for a moment, it’s really the company’s overall attitude towards customers that needs improvement.
They do have some great staff, who work very hard, and they have spent a lot of time working through the problems with me (but let’s not forget that’s my time spent too!)
However, seeing the bigger picture from Intuit’s customers’ perspective is not one of the company’s strongpoints.

I think where Intuit lets itself down most is that they’ve just become too big, and simply forgotten that it’s not just their own good products, services and staff that makes them money, but it’s actually about their customers using their products – customers who sometimes are going to need to interact with their organisation.

At the end of the day, we customers are real people – not just “users”.  Our time is valuable and that, quite simply should not be taken for granted.

  • We don’t want somebody to follow a script when we call them
  • We don’t really want our problem to be escalated to somebody else when the script doesn’t have a solution
  • We want matters to be dealt with in short and reasonable timescales
  • We want to deal with individuals who take ownership of the whole issue – rather than being passed from one specialist to another.
  • It’s a lot to ask for, but we’d like you to pay more attention to detail please
  • And we’d really like it if you’d keep your promises (please see June 2014 update below)

Simply try putting yourselves in your customer’s shoes and ask if that’d be good enough for you?

 

Just as a brief aside to my conclusion, interestingly enough, right at the beginning of this whole process, as part of the communications with Intuit, I sent them an invoice for £100 for my time wasted time (so far) and warned them that I’d charge more if they wasted more of my time – I know they got it as they dealt with other things in that same email message.
During the following dealings with different people at Intuit, I checked and double checked that they were looking into every previous communication in detail, I even reminded one of the senior people in customer services directly that I’d sent the invoice and that nobody had so much as mentioned it, never mind addressed it.

Once again, true to previous form, Intuit lacked the important attention to detail and empathy to look at that from the customer’s perspective.

 

Our country is heading (if not already there) into a compensation culture and it’s experiences like this that fuel that very fire.
I’ve had countless hours of my time spent trying to get Intuit to sort out their problems and fix their mistakes, and the bottom line is that I’m still down 7p (at the very least) and down an awful lot more if Intuit actually placed any value on my time.

The little voices in my head are screaming “compensation, COMPENSATION!!” – fortunately (for Intuit) up to now, a sharpened cotton bud stabbed sharply into my ear has managed to stifle those inner voices
– I don’t recommend trying that one yourselves folks!

Ear stabbing aside;

It’d be the right thing for Intuit to pay back the almost insignificant amount of 7p that they owe
It’d be nice if somebody at Intuit could acknowledge that all their gestures of credits have now been nullified as they’ve carried on taking payments
It’d be nice if somebody at Intuit could also acknowledge that the gesture of providing a special service for free worth £180 as way of an apology is somewhat nullified if it’s already free to everyone else
It’d be lovely if Intuit actually kept their promise and eventually delivered 12 months free subscription
It would have been nice if somebody had taken into consideration that me going to London would mean me taking a day out of my time at a further cost to my business
It’d demonstrate some attention to detail if somebody at Intuit at least addressed the £100 invoice I sent them

 

My experience with Intuit did not get off to the best start, but despite the problems, I still offered them a fair chance to show me their very best and impress me
Maybe it was slightly unfair to ask Intuit to impress me, but how they chose to respond to that was by offering something they said had value but actually turned out to be free, gave broken promises of free subscription, demonstrated both a lack of attention to detail and lack of empathy to the customer’s perspective and wasted even more time than they had done already
Leaving me feeling about as far from Brad’s vision of a “delightful experience” as anyone could possibly get.

 

Update June 2014

It’s now been six months since I opened up a QuickBooks online account with Intuit, and there’s been a futher mistake of them sending me a message to tell me that they were unable to process a payment on my account and it was now suspended – this seems a little bizarre since all the payments had gone through and my account was working as normal.
Having first assumed this was a phishing attempt I eventually got passed to somebody in Intuit who told me it was genuine and there was a billing issue

I thought I’d use the opportunity to copy in some of the people I’d dealt with before and question whether this was actually a “billing issue”, or was in fact another example of an administrative mistake from Intuit which simply irritates customers and wastes their time with unnecessary emails and phone calls.
And just to hammer another nail in the coffin, I thought I’d also draw their attention to this blog (again) and mention that even though I’d sent it to Brad, Rich and others last March, I’d heard absolutely nothing from their company until this latest additional administrative mistake, and reminded them that they hadn’t even kept their promise of 12 months free service.

The immediate response to that wasn’t an apology, just rather that they’d get somebody from customer services to call me.
Fortunately, that particularly message seemed to find some of the good people in Intuit who do read their emails and try to help customers.

And now it seems as though we may be at a turning point.

Another phone conversation with Intuit today, who have said that they are now going to pay me the value of 12 months subscription £109.94
– not £108.84 as I wrote above – see, we can all make mistakes!
Thank you Intuit – that is a kind (if a little belated) gesture, and one item checked off the list of “keeping your promises”!

During the conversation, they explained why they’d made a mistake to tell me that my account was suspended and that they needed new payment details, and offered some explanation as to how things had been overlooked and they’d forgotten to keep their promise in March of 12 months free service.

They also mentioned they’d read this blog
But there was no mention in the conversation of the 7p(!) or the or the transfer service that turned out to be free, or consideration of my time needed to visit London
….nor the £100 invoice that I’d sent Intuit!
Attention to detail still not quite there yet then?!

To wrap up the phone conversation with the good people from Intuit, I asked them a question, knowing that they’d read this blog;

If they thought they had now shown me the very best of Intuit?

They said that they thought I could see that in the product – and yes I must admit that their product, QuickBooks Online is great.
But as I pointed out, I could (should!) have seen the product QuickBooks, without having to deal with all these people in Intuit and gone through all this palaver, so the question is whether they’ve shown me the very best of the company Intuit.

I didn’t really get an answer to that, but in fairness, they were on the back hoof, were very apologetic and were trying to make things right for their first set of mistakes
– so I’ve left them to think about that one and have promised that I will publish any official reply that Intuit want to give here
They may think that living up to their promise after 2 months and only being reminded twice is the very best of Intuit

So what’s my take on this?
Well there was the initial gesture of 12 months free service to make up for their first set of mistakes, which I am genuinely grateful for, although at this stage feels a little bit like they’re firefighting!
Then there was a proverbial “oops sorry” for the mistake of forgetting to deliver on that gesture for a couple of months
And another “oops sorry again” for the further mistake of mistakenly telling me that they’d been unable to process a payment and my account was now suspended.

I’m not sure if “oops sorry” is good enough when Intuit are already supposed to be showing their very best?
Could it be that Intuit still lacks the important attention to detail and empathy to look at that from the customer’s perspective even when they know they’re under scrutiny, or could it simply be that they’re quitting whilst they think they’re ahead!

Their product itself is great, not just a little bit great, but really great, a pleasure to use
…but if that’s wrapped in company with administration that makes mistakes and then corrections to those mistakes have more mistakes, and the company’s response to that is “oops sorry” then the overall impression you’re left with is somewhat tarnished and wondering if competitors such as Xero are any better.

 

Of course, my own case may very well be an exceptional one, so I’d be really interested to hear anyone else’s experiences with Intuit – both good and bad, please do share them using the comments below.