You can tell by the title of this post that the story isn’t going to have a happy ending, right?  Well, as you probably already know the major personal finance software packages (Quicken, Microsoft Money) tend to release new versions of their software each year.  For so many people this software is the heart and soul of their personal finance management.  When the technology goes awry so goes the best laid plans of managing, planning, and tracking your finances.

Now, as a general rule I don’t upgrade software unless there is a compelling reason to (in terms of features I need) or I am forced to (compatibility, support of the product).  That is why earlier this year when my Quicken 2006 started to give me notices that investment downloads would no longer be supported after April 30th I started to get that cold pit in my stomach. The ever popular

After April 30, 2009, online services will no longer work unless you upgrade. When you upgrade, your services will be fully reinstated. While you can upgrade after the discontinuation date, in order to get the most benefit from Quicken products we would like to help you upgrade to the latest release right now.

Being the proactive girl I am, I purchased Quicken 2009 at Costco in March figuring that would give me time to install and setup before the support went away.  Add to this the fact that I had recently made some sweeping change in my investments and fund families to save on expenses I knew I had a few hours ahead of me to get things all working to my satisfaction.

That was March, this is May and STILL I find myself totally screwed by Quicken. 

You see, the new version of the software made significant changes to their code for online downloads.  And, it doesn’t work with American Funds (and who knows what other major fund families).  So the truth is whether you upgrade or not your online services may no longer work. So, I embarked on a journey of customer service calls that has done little to assuage my disgust or fix my problems.

Now, I ask you – you major investment houses and braniacs at Quicken — Can’t you talk to one another?  Ever hear of collaboration?  Working together?  And to the programmers (of which I might add I’ve spent years in your shoes) — ever think making changes in the code of your product might affect those who interface with it?

So far American Funds has had very responsive and caring customer service but basically can’t do a thing to help me until the problem is fixed. After numerous calls to the poor web support people in the middle, I was told the ETA to resolution is by July 1st.  My interactions with Quicken customer service are reminiscent of my days with Dell.  Essentially Quicken doesn’t care (other than the “I’m sorry you’re having this problem” statement repeated over and over in a thick accent) and since you can never roll-back your data to an earlier version of Quicken (say, return 2009 and run out to find an old copy of 2008 on eBay) essentially I’m sunk till someone fixes the problem.

Last week I got so mad I deleted all my investment accounts and just gave up. I have one big account that says “IRA” and just dump my cash in there (from my bank account) so that I can at least function with my day-to-day bill paying.  To say I am angry and frustrated is an understatement. I am hoping in a few months I can rebuild my investment accounts in my software if the companies involved can resolve their problem.

So the lesson learned for me here is that whenever one of those forced upgrades are coming – head out VERY early and get the previous year’s software before it gets taken off the market (to make room and force people to buy the latest version).  At least then you know 12 months have passed where the poor consumer has troubleshooted the problems and the product may actually work as advertised.

Anyone else having this problem?  Horror stories of personal finance software you wish to share?

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life coaching for lesbians to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to have success on your own terms. Get the free eCourse “5 Steps to Turn Fear Into Freedom” at her website.