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 Amazon.com 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 http://twitter.com/howardgr/status/6836077895 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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Charity Smackdown Update – And more about why I Stand Up To Cancer

An update from the CharitySmackdown 2009.
CHARITY SMACKDOWN:: Celebrities Compete, Charities Win www.charitysmackdown.com

Update:: PayPal will donate an additional $5,000 to the winning team!

So, it is even more important that you take a few minutes, go to the Call to Action page, and Donate. 

Again, why do I Stand Up to Cancer? In May 1992, my step-mother Carol had a lump on the side of her face. They thought it was some sort of ‘nerve bundle’ problem. I will never forget the moment the surgeon told us it was some sort of cancer he had never seen before, hugely aggressive. The specimen was sent to NIH or some other famous place to be analyzed.  By September, Carol was dead. Cancer was a terrible killer. 

Continue reading “Charity Smackdown Update – And more about why I Stand Up To Cancer”

Facebook making people angry

In case you were too busy preparing Turkey last week, I’ll give a basic review of the issue. Facebook’s Beacon program (already questioned as a possible “Privacy Nightmare” by GigaOm) lets users share their own data about what they like and dislike with other facebook users. An example might be Fandango or other movie service letting everyone know I bought tickets to “Enchanted” this weekend. I did, take the kids, it was adorable. But that’s not the point. I’m sharing this because I choose to. A bunch of people are finding out that stuff they didn’t realize was being shared, is.
Jason Calacanis clearly summarizes The wonderful horrible life of Facebook users and their data (or, “data hogs get slaughtered”) noting the 3 major things making some customers of Facebook feel, well, icky:

Facebook has done three things that are at once extremely innovative, extremely rude, extremely helpful, and extremely disconcerting:

1. They are collecting and republishing user data on a level not before seen by users.

2. They are allowing advertisers to use this data to reach these users.

3. They are not giving this information–information that has put their value at $15 billion–back to their users.

Doc Searls summarizes one possible set of responses in these two articles.

Time To Write Our Own Rules And Making Rules, II where he notes:
What we need instead is to make tools that work for us, and not just for them. We need to invent tools that give each of us independence from vendor control, and better ways of telling vendors what we want, when we want it, and how we want to relate — on our terms and not just on theirs.

For my clients and friends trying to understand the current bru-ha-ha going on, the above articles are must-reads.

Doc is Mad as Hell, and He’s not going to take it anymore

Wow, Doc Searls is fired up about the potential Google phone, based on the Business Week story. Bweek talks about targeted ads popping up on your mobile as you go through the world, but based on your preferences and actual behaviors.

Doc’s take: He wants to tell advertisers what he wants, not be made into a profile:

Tools on my phone that let me tell sellers what I want, and on my terms
– and not just on theirs. Whether that’s a latte two exits up the
highway, next restaurant that serves seared ahi, or where I can buy an
original metal slinky…
I want to be able to notify the market of my shopping or buying
intentions without revealing who I am, unless it’s on mutually
agreed-upon terms….Quick, who wants their cell phone to be a “mini marketing machine”?

There’s more to read, and this is a great discussion about what Doc and others have been calling VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management – “the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. It provides customers with tools for engaging with vendors in ways that work for both parties.”

Worth checking out.