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Customers See Red as QuickBooks Online Flounders

By Richard Adhikari
Jun 1, 2012 2:39 PM PT

Many customers of Intuit's QuickBooks Online are reporting problems with accessing the service for reasons that remain unclear.

Customers See Red as QuickBooks Online Flounders

"I had a problem when I was uploading data from the desktop to QuickBooks Online," Claudia Bolding, owner of accounting software and bookkeeping services company Detailed Office Services, told TechNewsWorld.

"It took me three days," she added.

"Some people are experiencing minor display glitches, and others go much deeper into the functionality of the system," ECT News Network Publisher Ric Kern told TechNewsWorld. "A few Intuit customer service agents told us that many businesses are affected by this week's problem and they're taking a lot of heat on the front lines."

Intuit has a scheduled maintenance this weekend between 9 p.m. PT June 2 and 1 a.m. PT June 3, Kern continued. "However, Intuit claims this maintenance has nothing to do with fixing the issues at hand, which for at least the past four days have had no scheduled ETA for a fix."

Hitting the Big Five-Oh

The problems might be tied to Intuit's rollout last week of QuickBooks Online Release 50, Kern speculated. "I got a call from a Diane Pittman at Intuit who identified herself as a supervisor, and she doesn't expect the problem to be fixed before June 8, but she couldn't guarantee that."

The Quicken Community website has a plethora of complaints from users of various Quicken products, some of which are about issues connected with banking.

Trouble Is a Friend

"The ongoing problems with QuickBooks Online are not limited to this week's debacle," ECT's Kern said.

In fact, thousands of QuickBooks Online customers had a miserable two days last week when their access to the service was suspended while the company fixed a data synchronization problem.

All but 5,700 of the customers affected had their access to QuickBooks Online restored during the day. By 10 p.m. that night, another 2,000 had access restored. The rest got access the next morning.

QuickBooks Online suffered another outage in June of 2011. Intuit CEO Brad Smith blamed this on an accidental power failure that occurred during routine maintenance.

"I've got 46 clients online and haven't had too many problems," Detailed Office Service's Bolding said. "There are a few Mickey Mouse problems, but it hasn't really gone down for me. There's stuff we had to get used to, but it's pretty good, actually."

The Browser's the Thing

"For more than a year, the company has not been able to keep their systems compatible across the four most popular Web browsers -- Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari," Kern said.

Business-critical documents such as invoices and checks that are formatted to display and print satisfactorily in one browser do not output satisfactorily in another browser, he said. Using the system in Safari is "dreadfully slow, and the buttons used to save and update data work about 50 percent of the time, at best." Chrome is faster and more dependable, "but display and print alignments are impossible, and Intuit knows this," he said. Other compatibility and productivity issues occur when IE or Firefox are brought into the mix.

Intuit's "explanation to their customers is that they cannot keep up with the constant browser updates that are pushed out," he added. "Perhaps the company should consider a meeting with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla."

ECT News has been using both in-house and online QuickBooks products for more than a decade, Kern stated. QuickBooks Online "got off to a good start when the product was launched," but Intuit "clearly has not been able to manage the growth of their online versions' customer base.

"Intuit is offering two free months of service to customers who are affected by this service interruption," Kern continued. "That's worth about $80 and is likely to be viewed by their user base as a paltry amount to offer for stifling the financial operations and employee productivity of so many businesses."

In 2011, QuickBooks Online was Intuit's fastest growing product, according to Seeking Alpha. It grew 35 percent from its base of 350,000 users.

Intuit did not respond to our request for more details.

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