Questions, we get questions (2)

January 15 2009 by Ellen Roseman

This is another instalment of a blog feature I started last May. Where does the time go?

Below you’ll find answers to two questions: Why does the prospectus for Barclays iShares exchange-traded funds talk about a 5 per cent redemption fee? And why does Rogers take such a hands-off approach to customers when they report that their iPhone is stolen?

I also want to mention that QuickTax offers eight returns in each copy of desktop software. Last year, customers felt they were shortchanged and weren’t given clear disclosure on the package. Some blog readers have already commented on QuickTax 2008 here.

“Canadians told us they want more value and we’ve delivered,” said Gene Lewis, general manager of Intuit’s Canada tax division. How’s that for corporate spin?

So, here’s my question. When a company makes a mistake and drives away loyal customers, can it get them back later by restoring the status quo? Or will it lose them to rivals that offer the same or better value?

18 comments

  1. Bob

    Jan 15 2009

    Yup. Intuit is the most frustrating company in the universe. Okay, maybe running head-to-head with Bell Canada and a few others.

    I must confess, I like Intuit’s products – a lot. But I hate the company. It is arrogant and completely oblivious to its customers and their concerns.

    As soon as I find a comparable product at a reasonable price, I’m walking.

  2. Bylo

    Jan 15 2009

    > So, here’s my question. When a company makes a mistake
    > and drives away loyal customers, can it get them back
    > later by restoring the status quo? Or will it lose them
    > to rivals that offer the same or better value?

    Ellen, to answer your question and specifically for Gene Lewis’ benefit, I was a loyal CanTax user since the 1980s until Intuit bought them. Then I switched to CoolTax until Intuit bought them. Then I used QuickTax until last year when Intuit brought out the policy that they just reversed, when I switched to UFile. The only hope that Intuit has of getting me back is by buying UFile. (That’s a joke, Gene. Please DO NOT buy UFile.)

    Also for Mr Lewis’ benefit. I’ve been using Quicken since it came out in the MS-DOS days. The ONLY reason why I still use it is because there’s no viable alternative. The moment one becomes available, especially if it has an import from Quicken feature, I’ll be gone. Forever.

    Sadly, companies like Intuit (and Rogers and Bell) don’t realize how much pent-up customer dissatisfaction they’re carrying on their books until it’s too late to do something about it.

  3. Harald

    Jan 16 2009

    I too use Quicken only because I must. I tried MSFT Money for less than a year before the lack of budgeting and reporting tools forced me back to Quicken.

    I’ve always used UFile for taxes, even though my friends offer to let me buy into their “QuickTax pool”; I don’t want to give Intuit any more money than I already do, since I’m forced to upgrade Quicken every two years.

  4. Steve

    Jan 16 2009

    Perhaps I’m more forgiving than the average. I was a Quicken user until 2002, upgrading every few years, until they added the annoying DRM and computer restrictions.

    Having dealt with Microsoft when upgrading my Windows computer, I felt that was enough of that and refused to upgrade. But when their 2008 version came out with no DRM or restrictions, I did upgrade.

    Likewise, I was a Cantax/Quicktax user for more years than I can remember until Taxwiz came out. It was significantly cheaper and had a great interface, so I switched until Quicktax bought it out. I stayed with Quicktax until last year when they chopped the number of returns and went to Ufile.

    This year, since they have matched Ufile and I do prefer the Quicktax interface significantly over Ufile’s, I went back. If Ufile had Taxwiz’s interface, though, I never would have.

    I think there are enough competitors now, and it’s so easy with the internet to become one, that Intuit’s policy of “buy the competitors out and screw the customers” just won’t work, and if they learn the lesson, they could be a good company again.

  5. Frank

    Jan 17 2009

    For Steve…

    Did the same thing as you. I bought Quicktax last year, and promptly returned it when I saw the two return limit. Bought UFile, instead.

    This year I bought Quicktax. There used to be an import function from competitor software. That’s gone. I guess they figure if they own most of the competition, there’s no need to have an import function for the ones they don’t own.

    I also picked up Quicken H&B 2009 to replace my 2007 version. Was a better deal if you bought both together. There are obvious cosmetic bugs that should not be there in a first release. Like getting Windows XP before the first service pack.

    Both products used to be good, and competitively priced, but not any more.

    I would switch to something else if there were options.

  6. Geoff

    Jan 17 2009

    Hello Ellen,

    Geoff here with the QuickTax team. Thanks for pointing out one of the changes to QuickTax this year.

    Your readers should know that we do pay attention to our customers. While the majority of Canadian households use two returns, our customers told us the number of returns is an important measure of value.

    As we stated in the press release you referenced, our customers told us they wanted more, and we delivered: desktop versions of QuickTax have eight returns in each box, up from two last year, and more than the five we offered two seasons ago. QuickTax Online is pay-per-return software, and this year the Standard edition is $14.99. That’s five dollars less than it cost last year. We also added a number of new features in response to customer requests, including one-click pension-income splitting optimization.

    We pay attention to every customer comment, question, criticism and complement. Let me give you an example: Intuit runs a Follow-Me-Home program where we go to peoples’ homes and places of business. We watch them use our products and we learn what works well and what we need to do better. They also give us ideas for improving the software. The RRSP Optimizer in QuickTax? A customer suggested it, we built it, and millions of Canadians use it.

    Please keep the comments coming.

  7. Bylo

    Jan 18 2009

    > We also added a number of new features in response
    > to customer requests, including one-click
    > pension-income splitting optimization.

    A feature that UFile offered last year even though their product sells for half your price. I wonder if you’d have offered this feature, as well as backed off the 2-return limit, had there not been any competition.

    > We pay attention to every customer comment,
    > question, criticism and complement[sic].

    B*llsh*t, plain and simple. Whether I’ve contacted Intuit customer support or written a lengthy letter to your founder, Scott Cook, there has been no response beyond the standard-issue self-serving palavers like, “We pay attention to every customer comment…” But real action? Hardly.

    Consider how long it took Intuit to fix the Quicken online stock price update feature last year. Consider all the problems people are now having with the inability to accept new transactions after they move their Quicken to a new PC. And this is for a mature product whose functionality hasn’t changed much in years.

    If only there was competition with Quicken…

  8. Bylo

    Jan 18 2009

    P.S.

    > Your readers should know that we do pay attention to
    > our customers.

    If you were listening so attentively to your customers last year, then how did you manage to make such a monumental blunder as reducing QuickTax 2007’s return count by 60% (from 5 to 2) with no decrease in price?

    How many customers told you they wanted that?

    And how many told you they didn’t?

  9. Alex

    Jan 22 2009

    For all those people frustrated with Quick Tax & other tax return programs taking you for granted, there is a Canadian company which is offering their software free.

    It’s called Studio Tax & you can download it (free) from their website http://www.studiotax.com/en/main.htm

    I have been using for the last 3 years & this year I am also planning to send them a cheque for their services rendered.

    I wasn’t comfortable with all my personal information being stored on the servers based in US & by using Studio Tax, I can be sure that it’s more secure.

  10. Bylo

    Jan 22 2009

    > there is a Canadian company which is offering their software free.

    Actually payment is voluntary. All tax preparation software makers incur costs every year to update their products to comply with new tax rules, as well as to obtain NetFile certification from CRA.

    If you use the product and want to ensure that the software is maintained every year, you should consider making a payment, even if it’s just a small, token one.

  11. bylo

    Jan 26 2009

    Seems that Intuit lost a significant number of customers with last year’s QuickTax reduction to two returns. I just got an AOL-style “free” QT08 installation CD. “Welcome back to the easiest QuickTax ever” reads the card the disc is in.

    Of course, once installed you have to go to a QT website to “purchase your Installation Key (IKC)” at full list price. Not even a small discount to tempt people to come back.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I’m gone for good.

    (And the CD that ends up in landfill is on you Intuit 🙁 )