How are we supposed to use our computers without screaming?

I installed an update for Quickbooks 2010 in March. Perfectly typical for Quickbooks – when I clicked on the icon to start the program, a window appeared asking permission to install something, with absolutely no information about what the effect of the update would be. I installed it. Nothing was noticeably different until today.

I printed an invoice today. There was a new box at the bottom of the printed page, misaligned, with some illegible text on top of my cheery invoice message (“Thank you for sending my children to college!”).

When I got into the Quickbooks template editor and moved things around, it turned out to be some unfamiliar text about paying bills online. I’d never seen it before. I deleted it and my template looked normal again. Hmm.

I printed the invoice again and looked it over. In the middle of the page, after the last entry, was another unfamiliar line about paying bills online, with a funky URL. I almost missed it.

It’s taken me a while to track this down. Sure enough, in the minds of people who wear suits and make more money than you or me, this is not a bug, it’s a feature.

Intuit runs a service called “Intuit PaymentNetwork.” (My guess is that the missing space between “Payment” and “Network” was a typo in the original press release and it was easier to just leave it.) It sounds great – anyone can pay an invoice online and Intuit will process the payment with a negligible fee and easier setup than required for credit cards.

I looked into it to see if it could handle payments from my small business clients. To send a payment to me, a client would need to register for Intuit PaymentNetwork (email address and yet another password), then fill in forms with the client’s bank account information – check routing number, account number, and details about the bank account holder.

Excuse me?

Has the world changed in some way I missed that makes it likely that any client of a small business would do this?

In the March 10 maintenance release, Intuit added new options and checkmarks for Intuit PaymentNetwork into Quickbooks 2010. You probably saw a notice about it if you read the Intuit PaymentNetwork Blog regularly – and really, who doesn’t? The rest of you might have missed it, since I can find no other official reference to it whatsoever. Here’s a post from someone who had to call Intuit to find out why it had turned up in his copy of QB2010. As of tonight, the Intuit PaymentNetwork and Quickbooks sites still show that Intuit PaymentNetwork is only integrated into Quickbooks 2011.


I had lined up the monthly invoices for all of my clients. I went back to the first one and saw a new checkbox for the first time: “Allow online payment.” The box was checked.


I unchecked the box. An information screen appeared, waiting for another OK.


Now the invoice would print without any extra language about online payments.

Following the instructions in the message took me to a Preferences screen with new options for “Payments” where I could turn off the “payment link” for emailed and printed invoices. Both were turned on by default.


Think about that! With no notice, Intuit turned on a printed message in my invoices about an online payment service that I am not signed up for. This is at best rude, and at worst an invitation to a poor experience for confused clients.

I unchecked the boxes in “Preferences” and went back to printing invoices.

The next invoice came up with the box checked for “Allow online payment.” Uncheck the box. Click OK on the information window. The next invoice came up checked. Uncheck. Click OK. So did the next one and the next one, all the invoices that had been lined up for printing this month. It appears the change in Preferences will be effective on new invoices but it didn’t help me get through this month’s stack.

This isn’t a big problem, but it’s symptomatic of a big problem. We use programs to get our work done. The developers and vendors increasingly view us, their customers, as ATM machines that simply must be made to pay out more frequently. If that means disrupting our work flow to introduce something new that might make them a buck, they move full speed without a second thought. Pages of comments like this are simply irrelevant.


Random quotes: “Very annoying.” “I am really irritated . . . It appears that they keep pushing their services even if you don’t want to use them.” “This year’s version is making me wish that I never upgraded.” “Very big pain.”  “Drives me nuts.”

You know what’s really nuts? Quickbooks is still virtually the only choice for small business accounting. The competitors are either worse (even more quirky and difficult) or vanished.

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