I’ve read a lot in the last few months about people having difficulties registering their install of QuickBooks. I’ve heard Intuit employees respond that improvements have been made.

So with some degree of optimism, I installed and registered a new license of QB Pro 2010 on a computer running Windows Vista.

Overall, I found that the process seems somewhat better than a lot of what I’ve read. But there is room for improvement. See my four suggestions at the bottom of this article.

I insert the QuickBooks install CD and it fires up. I put in my license code. I accept the default options for an express install. About 15 minutes later, it’s done! No problems so far. Do I want to run QuickBooks now? Sure! I’ve got a good working  QBW file. Let’s open it up.

Error -6000,-77. What!? I don’t recognize the -77 part right off, but 6000 errors often mean data damage. Sometimes they mean environmental issues. I know this data is clean. (I look it up, and a -6000 -77 error means there is a folder permissions problem where the data is. Not sure why that would apply here though.)

I close out QB and it closes cleanly now. I find my QBW file through Windows on My Computer and double-click it. Voila! It opens up just fine now. Now it wants me to register.

OK. I’ll be curious about this. There has been a kind of conspiracy theory on Twitter about the registration process. Some say that Intuit wants to upsell their users hard, so the online registration never works – it  always makes you register over the phone. Why? So you have to hear the sales spiels, you see. That’s what suspicious minds think, anyway.

I start the process of registering online. I already have an Intuit ID, so I log in. It wants more info about me. OK. I have to put in my billing information. Why? I am not going to buy anything. But the asterisks say it’s required info. so I enter it.

I’m in my account overview screen, but, uh, where did QuickBooks go? On my monitor, part of the information is off the screen, below the last field. Is there a submit button down there? This is not a scrolling or resizeable window. I have no idea where the focus of the window is right now. I dare not just press ENTER, fearing that I’ll then be signing up for all manner of optional services.

I monkey around with tabs and clicks, and somehow can now see the “Save” button. I save. Now what? I can’t see a “Return to QuickBooks” button, if there is one. There are no relevant navigation controls at all. The only thing remotely “exit-y” is “Sign Out”. I click that. Uh oh. The registration takes me down a dead-end street and drops me off. I see this screen:

What the heck? No navigation controls except links to Intuit corporate pages. I’m not in a browser window, although it kinda looks like one. Close Window control doesn’t respond. I’m tempted to Task Manager/End Task my way out of this but that definitely wouldn’t be right, and as far as I know, my company data is still open. It would be a sad thing to CTRL-ALT-DEL it into corruption.

I poke around. F2 brings up my QuickBooks Product Information. OK, QuickBooks is still alive in there… It says my product is still UNREGISTERED. Figures. I randomly hit ESC. Voila! Back in QuickBooks again. It says that the online registration failed and I have to register by phone.

Ah, so here we go. I call the 800 number. Please enter my phone number. I do, but it doesn’t like it. “You will now be connected with a registration representative to help you.”

You know those March-of-Dimes coin funnel things they have in grocery stores sometimes? I feel like a penny spiraling down the giant funnel of this registration process – my destination is inevitable. There is no way I’m going to avoid talking to a rep who is going to try to sell me a bunch of stuff.

So in less than a minute, a fellow named Brian comes on the line. He asks me a couple of questions. He gets my license codes. HE DOES NOT OFFER TO SELL ME ANYTHING. He gives me my validation code and has me press F2 again. REGISTERED.

Brian bids me good day. OK! All’s well that ends well.

I suggest that Intuit consider changing the following aspects of their product registration process:

  1. Launch a browser session to capture the information, rather than putting me in an ill-designed pseudo-browser with non-standard flow and controls.
  2. Don’t ask me for billing info. If I want to buy an optional service/app later, there is plenty of time to get my billing details later.
  3. Give me a nice, clear, “Return to QuickBooks” link somewhere, or other appropriate form controls. Don’t dump me in a blind alley. CTRL-ALT-DEL shouldn’t be coming into my head…
  4. If I registered, count it. In spite of the difficulties, I was able to save my information on the form. So why didn’t QuickBooks show that it was registered?

My first tech job long ago was doing software quality assurance, so it was kind of fun analyzing my experience with the QuickBooks registration process.

My final thought: Kudos to Intuit for listening to users’ complaints about over-marketing and toning that down. I am impressed that, though they are large, Intuit seems to respond to its users.

What are your thoughts on the current QuickBooks registration process? Was your experience like mine?

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13 thoughts on “Review: The QuickBooks registration process

  1. Shannon:

    Glad your experience when you called the 800# was less than a minute! I think that is the exception rather than the rule.

    I’ve been tracking the problems with registration since the 2009 version, and boy have users voiced their opinion on just how bad it is:
    http://snipr.com/symjp

    I was told recently that for accountants only, the registration process is all online. That still leaves 80%+ of the QB user community having to deal with the issues you describe as well as those comments I’ve seen. Not a good user experience in any way.

    To me, this forced phone registration is not much more than deceptive marketing by Intuit. Glad you didn’t have to suffer through it.

    Scott Gregory

    Reply
    • Scott, I had seen your blog post and people’s comments to it, and that’s part of why I’m hopeful that there have been some improvements since some of those observations were made. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  2. “I’m not in a browser window, although it kinda looks like one” <<<AWESOME!!!

    As a QuickBooks add-on developer, I'm constantly registering NFR (not-for-resale) copies of QuickBooks on test and development computers. It's a lot of fun explaining that to the registration folks every time we install a new version.

    Reply
  3. I am a Certified ProAdvisor who has been installing a lot of upgrades recently. In every case I have had to register by phone. In every case I have identified myself as a Certified ProAdvisor who is installing an upgrade on a client’s computer. In every case the Intuit personnel asked me the same inane questions that I had just answered on their webpage before I was informed I had to register by phone. Most of the questions have nothing to do with making the program work or getting the software registered. They are about gathering information so that Intuit knows exactly what services to market to you (e.g. payroll services, merchant services, etc.). Each time I tell the Intuit personnel that the questions are intrusive and a waste of time. None of this feedback has had any impact on getting the registration process changed. I would love to see the survey results that show that Intuit’s customers want Intuit to ask these intrusive questions so that Intuit can continue to sell that customer more services. I would also love to hear if my experience with Intuit’s registration process is the same experience other ProAdvisors are having.

    Reply
  4. Seems to me that revenue royalties from 3rd party apps are becoming an increasingly profitable growth area for Intuit. I read that when a user subscribes to a 3rd party app within QB, Intuit gets a 20% cut. Not bad. So yeah, maybe they should give you IDN guys some VIP treatment…

    Reply
  5. I just went through this for the first time. I haven’t used Quick Books since 2002 as I migrated to Microsoft Office Accounting – which I LOVED, but it’s being phased out, so back to Quick Books I go.

    The registration process wasted anything 5 minutes of my day (yes I realized I’m wasting even more now) – but time is money for us little guys. The representative on the phone was as polite as could be, but I HATE the sales tactics. After 2 of the questions he asked were obviously ways to try and sell me something else, I requested he just give me the activation code, which he did.

    Point is, as an IT guy who simply wants to activate the darn software, this is very, very annoying. Intuit is a marketing giant, but they’re doing it at the expense of peoples time when they don’t need to.

    That is extremely frustrating.

    Reply
  6. I am having a really hard time with the registration process. I do books on the side for a very small counselling agency. I am using Quickbooks Pro 2004, and last year my computer died. I was able to load 2004 on the computer but did not have my registration information. When I called the 800 number to get the registry I was told that we would need to upgrade to Quickbooks 2010. There is no reason that my client needs to spend almost $300 for new software (we don’t use payroll) when 2004 works perfectly well. I think this is criminal that they cannot provide this information on a legal copy of Quickbooks to get more money from cash-strapped businesses. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Yes, Intuit only supports versions going back three years. Other software vendors have similar policies — it’s not just a QuickBooks thing.

      Well, you could go on eBay and see if you can pick up an inexpensive copy of QB Pro 2004 that has the license codes you need.

      Or you could bite the bullet and buy a later version. As of today, you can get QuickBooks Pro 2010 on Amazon for $119.99. Getting the latest version makes it much more likely that QB will work OK on your new computer. Older versions have issues with newer versions of Windows.

      Reply
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  9. actually i have the same problem about quickbook registration.
    I have Quickbook 2014 Premier. I had to unistall cause conflict with W10…when i install again i start to clal the number but is a mess to find someone
    so difficult that i start to doubt that QB exist :))
    Question is…the calling number is not clear
    Customer service not exist
    QB is great product but the customer service is completly Nully. Would be to much to ask them to make their job???

    Reply

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