Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Quicken and the Dead

File this under the "cheese moving" category...

We've recently upgraded to Quicken 2005. My bank also recently "upgraded," going through a row of mergers the past 5 years. Our First Federal Account became a Savings Bank of Manchester Account, which last year became a New Alliance Bank account.

When the account was under SBM we had access to a fairly robust web interface to perform transactions and pay bills. We could also download all transactions straight into Quicken without using any sort of export.

That went away when the account switched over to NAB. The nice web interface was replaced with something designed by HTML 101 students, and update from within Quicken was gone. That sucked royally but at least we could still download transactions in QIF format and import into Quicken.

Not any more! The upgrade to Q2005 dropped support for QIF format import, at least for bank transactions:
QIF technology is over 10 years old and was designed for technical support purposes, it was not for transaction download. QIF Data Import requires many steps to download, is a poor customer experience and can lead to duplicate transactions and errors.
Well, instead of a poor customer experience I get zero customer experience now. I'm not sure if I should shoot Intuit or my bank.

My bank does offer OFX export, which apparently is an open format and is based on XML. In the prior Quicken link Quicken claims that it supports OFX, but it really doesn't. It's not available anywhere in the software, but there is a QFX import. After a little research it turns out that QFX is just a bastardization of OFX, with a few tags being added that identify the financial institution and your account. When importing the QFX file, Quicken actually does a lookup on the financial institution just to make sure it exists in their database.

Why? Because apparently Quicken is charging financial institutions to use their specially brewed up import format. What that eventually will mean is that these fees will get passed on to the customer.

After giving the computer the blue streak of death, I tried the kludge suggested here and here. It seemed to work, and when trying to import the transactions a second time from the same file Quicken recognized that the transactions were duplicates and didn't import them.

So now I'll have to transmorgrify the OFX file and rename it everytime I download transactions from my bank. Thanks for improving my user experience, Intuit! We'll be giving Microsoft Money a look real soon as well as seeing about changing banks.

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