Business DocSearls VRM

If Ever there was a reason for VRM (Vendor Relationship Management)

My version of Quickbooks 2007 for Mac is basically having errors on Snow Leopard. Things in my American Express expense ledger are showing “Overflow.” Otherwise, the program works just fine, as far as I’m concerned. The fine folks at Intuit tech support tell me I have to buy a new version (>$199). Glad to know that the Apple system upgrade changed the way math works. Thanks.
As it is the end of the year, and I’m trying to close out my books, I run to Staples, where Quickbooks was on sale for $50 off. (It is also on sale at Amazon, but I needed to do my books that day.) I decide, since my account has trouble with my Mac-based QB file every year, to get QB 2010 for Windows, and run in in Parallels. This works fine, and I’m able to install and upgrade my QB Mac file with no problem. The program keeps asking me to register, and it won’t take no for an answer. So I start to do so.

Whoa. They want a LOT of information about my company, just to register their software.Name and address is mandatory – everything from size of business and number of employees is mandatory. Not even WINDOWS made me give this information as mandatory, and people complain about it all the time (and yes, I’m an MSFT stockholder in my retirement accounts).

I frankly don’t want to give them that information, as they’re just going to use it to market to me, and frankly, if I want their extra services such as Payroll, I’ll click the button and ask for it.

I go to the Reviews for Quickbooks 2010 and wow, I’m not the only person who thinks this is the case. Reviewer “R. Pink Floyd” said “Intuit has their head up their bank account” and “my biggest problem with it is that the entire program just seems highly focused on sucking money out of the customer.” P. Rudy “Adventure Traveler” asks ” Does Intuit Work Day and Night to dream up new ways for customers to hate it?” and “They must. Decent accounting program that everyone knows about, yet each year, they work harder and harder to get more of your money and to piss you off.  Intuit has one plus — I will NEVER complain about Microsoft. Could you image using Windows where there was a pop up every 15 mintues to sell you an add on service?”Stephen J. Fotos “Stephen” says “Quickbooks is a marketing machine, more than a functional program.”

So I’m wondering how I can skip this registration process. And then I read the End User License Agreement {emphasis is mine}:

Intuit Legal Statement

You hereby grant Intuit permission to use information about your business and usage experience to enable us to provide the Intuit Services to you, including updating and maintaining your data, addressing errors or service interruptions, and to enhance the types of data and services Intuit may provide to you in the future. You also grant Intuit permission to combine your business data, if any, with that of others in a way that does not identify you or any individual personally to improve services and to compare business practices with other company standards. We may use your data to create, market or promote new Intuit offerings to you and others.

So, in order to have the privilege of paying to use their program, I have to bend over and let them send me marketing information. And, I have to deal with pop-ups every time I log in. The program has a 60 day money back guarantee. I’d immediately try Freshbooks but it doesn’t seem to have a full Bills and Expenses system – I could be wrong – let me know.

How does this tie into VRM? Well, my understanding from speaking to Doc Searls many times, including in this interview at Supernova, is that VRM is the way I give my data to companies I want to have it, so they can sell me more services I want, and not the other way around.

Frankly, this entire experience with the new Quickbooks just makes me feel icky. And that’s not what you want your customers to feel like.

I’ve Tweeted Intuit and asked “Hey @Intuit, how do I opt out of giving you all my registration data for Quickbooks 2010. You are asking for too much private biz info.” I’ll publish any replies I get here.

UPDATE: Scott Gregory of Better Bottom Line Blog Tweeted me about his post on Quickbooks 2010 Registration Hassles. Thanks for letting me know others are having problem with this, Scott.

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Random Thoughts

Are You for Real? From the Startup Toolbox

From my recent column on the Start-Up Toolkit

When we meet people in person, there are often clues as to the person’s identity, and sometimes there are real life tokens of identification. But when we connect online, those clues often don’t exist, leading us to wonder if the person is really who they say they are? What makes a merchant or a connection online real?

The article has lots of tips on how to show that you’re really you online. I just wanted to let you know that yes, I am  really the same person as the one who writes that column. This is my personal site. You can find more about my work at the Harbrooke Group site.

fun geeky web2.0

Me on Barely Digital

My old friend, Obama Girl model Amber Lee Ettinger, included me in her Barely Digital coverage of Web 2.0 expo. Yeah, that’s me about 40 seconds in.

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