Thumbs Down on Great ReviewAn August 6, 2004 Cnet review granted Quicken Premier 2005 an Editor’s Choice rating based on easy set up and importing from previous versions, many subtle enhancements to the user interface, free online chat support and a thorough support website which includes training videos. Despite this impressive review, the majority of Quicken 2005 users voting on Cnet gave the product a “thumbs down”.
QIF Data Format is OutThe primary problem Quicken 2005 users had was that Quicken 2005 dropped the QIF format for importing and exporting files. Quicken users grew to depend on QIF for these data transfers after having it available in Quicken for the past decade. Quicken 2005 customers were left with one alternative to QIF for importing and exporting data files, OFX. However, many Quicken 2005 users soon found that their financial institutions either did not offer the new OFX format, or did so for a fee when using QIF had been free. One month later on September 10, 2004, PCWorld.com published an article entitled, “Intuit Cripples Older Quicken Versions”, claiming that Quicken dropped the QIF file format for the new OFX format because the latter was rapidly becoming the preferred format by financial institutions. However, most banks and credit unions had not yet changed over to the new format for Quicken (although it was available for Microsoft Money users), leaving Quicken 2005 users without an alternate method of downloading transactions. To compound this oversight, many institutions were charging for OFX downloads to offset Intuit licensing fees associated with it. Microsoft is giving licenses for using OFX to institutions at no cost.
Intuit's ResponseIntuit’s (developer of Quicken software) response to this serious customer service issue is published in this FAQ on their website. The response explains why they made the change from the QIF format to the OFX format and how to deal with it. Intuit explains that they never designed QIF be a download standard, but that it was to be used for tech support. Despite Intuit’s intentions, QIF did indeed become such a standard and there are still many institutions offering it as the only option to their customers for importing data.
OFX AdvantagesThe news isn’t all bad. OFX provides a faster data transfer and is more stable and accurate than QIF, with QIF often resulting in duplicate transactions in the Quicken’s registers. The implementation of OFX for data import and export is a great move -- implementing it before consumers could use it at no cost is not.
Not All Transactions EffectedNot all transactions are required to be in the OFX format in Quicken 2005. Checking, savings, 401(k) and brokerage accounts must be imported or exported in OFX where credit card, liability, cash, asset, invoice accounts from financial institutions and small business payables can still utilize QIF data file imports and exports. Intuit forecasts that Quicken 2006 will no longer support QIF data transfer for credit cards, with the goal being to gradually phase out QIF in favor of OFX altogether.
Some Solutions to QIF Data TransferIntuit disclosed that over 2,000 financial institutions have switched over to OFX and many more are adding it daily. As noted previously, these institutions may initially charge a fee to Quicken customers for utilizing this data transfer.
The QIF data format issue doesn’t affect the many Quicken users who do all their own data entry and therefore do not utilize the QIF import or export feature. These people should look into the features Quicken 2005 offers.