“Yeah, we have too many customers!” That’s what the harried checkout clerk said.

This was back in the 1990s, in a big retail store in Texas. I don’t remember what city it was in, or what I was buying. But I do remember that the store was crowded. The checkout lines were long. There weren’t many lines open; there were a number of closed checkout stations.

When I finally got up to the front of the line, I made a casual remark to the checker: “Kinda busy here today…” The checker didn’t look at me; she was starting to ring me up. But she said, “Yeah, we have too many customers today!” She wasn’t smiling.

I was speechless. How do you respond to that? Was she essentially saying, “I wish you and a lot of other customers in my line would just go away”? Hmm.

Here’s what she didn’t choose to say:

“I know, I know! I’m hoping they open a few more registers here in a minute.”

Or, “Yes, and I apologize for the wait. Thanks for your patience.”

Or at least, “I know, it’s crazy! Happy Holidays!”

That was a time in the history of retailing when the universe was changing: Walmart was just beginning to take over the world.

Have you ever heard a “too many customers” line from a Walmart employee? Or a Target checker? Or anyone at The Home Depot? Me neither.

Now in all fairness to that checker on that day, the store management hadn’t done a good job of resourcing the checkout stations. Maybe that store’s checkers weren’t trained very well. At least some of that comment probably wasn’t her fault. And maybe she was just having a bad day and said the first thing that came to mind, like we all do sometimes.

Even so, my wife and I made that experience a code phrase for bad customer service. Ever since, whenever we have a bad employee interaction in a store, restaurant, airline counter, etc., nothing more need be said between us than “Too many customers”.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation:

* You use QuickBooks 2016 and your client uses QuickBooks 2017. They want to send you their file for review.

* You have an old computer with an old version of QuickBooks on it, and you want to open up your current QB file on that computer.

* Your computer crashes and dies. You buy a new computer. When you go to install QuickBooks, you can only find your install disk for an earlier version. You install it anyway. You restore the backup you made to the cloud (whew!), but it was made by a later version of QuickBooks.

In all of these cases, you are trying to use an old version of QuickBooks to open a new file.

It doesn’t work.

QuickBooks is backwards compatible — it can open and convert files made from earlier versions — but it is not forwards compatible. If you think about it, there’s no way it could be. The version of QuickBooks you have installed on your system today doesn’t know what future releases of QuickBooks will be like, including their revised data structures.

You see, most new releases of QuickBooks come with internal changes to the database. That’s why the size of your QuickBooks file changes when you upgrade to a newer version. It almost always grows. And that’s why, when you upgrade your file to a newer version, QuickBooks gives you a warning that that change to your file is irrevocable.

So the bottom line is that, unfortunately, you can never use an older version to open a newer file. You can never open a QuickBooks 2017 file with QuickBooks 2016, as one example.

The solution is simple, if not free: get a version of QuickBooks that is equal to or later than the version of the QuickBooks file you are trying to open.

My family went car camping at Guanella Pass last weekend and here’s what I discovered: You should take your tent poles and not your Ford Mustang.

Well, I didn’t take a Mustang. Don’t have one. I took my truck. But someone from Georgia (I saw the plates) drove a late model green Mustang up the high-clearance road to the campsite next to us. It was one of the neo-retro Mustangs that sound awesome in the lane next to you at the stop light. I like those Mustangs a lot.

But it was not made for 4WD roads. I can only imagine what the big stumpy rocks and deep potholes did to the tender underside of that sweet ride. Did it make it back to Georgia without a detour to the Ford dealer along the way? I kinda doubt it.

Moral of the story #1: Don’t take the Mustang camping.

But do take your tent poles. You know, the things that make the tent stand up. The things that transform your tent from a fried egg into a cozy dome. THE THINGS I FORGOT.

Yup. So when we had our tent all laid out, we realized that the poles were back in the garage, or somewhere other than in the flippin’ bag with the rest of the tent. I was not pleased. Not pleased!

But my smart daughter noticed that there was a loop on the top of the tent and proposed a workaround. We used some truck-scrounged cord and comealong straps and two fir trees to lift the center of the tent up pretty well. Then my other smart daughter figured out that we could bungee the tent’s side seam loops to our center rope and get more of the tent up off the ground.

The tent then worked. It looked somehow like a tiny, flimsy buddhist temple set in the deep woods; its top layer hung just so. But it was a success in outdoor improvisation. And don’t you think that improvisation is close to the heart of camping anyway?

Moral of the story #2: Take your tent poles camping. And your daughters.

We took a survey of what folks thought was the best and worst of QuickBooks. There were no suggested prompts — people just wrote out what they thought. So we read all of the comments, tallied them up by theme, and consolidated the results. There were a couple of surprises (to me, anyway).

50% of our respondents are using the QuickBooks Pro edition. 27% use Premier, and 18% use Enterprise. The rest use Online or Mac editions.

About 51% of our respondents use the 2013 version of QuickBooks. 26% use QuickBooks 2012. 14% use 2011 version, and the rest use prior (unsupported) versions.

First, the positive feedback from QuickBooks users:

 

QuickBooks is seen as easy to use and efficient at meeting most users’ accounting software needs.

The surprise? Almost no one mentioned affordability/price. That surprised me a bit…that a full-featured general accounting solution that costs under $200 didn’t get many kudos for its price, or cost-effectiveness.

How ’bout the dark side? Here’s how we tallied up what users said they didn’t like:

 

The feedback we got from users about their dislikes was much more varied than their positive comments. A lot of people had one particular, specific limitation or problem that was giving them fits, often having to do with invoicing.

It’s possible that the complaints about slowness, file size, and instability were all related, but we didn’t assume that.

Thanks for giving us your feedback last month. We try to keep our finger on the pulse of the user community.

Hopefully this doesn’t happen to you. But it does happen to many: You try to open your QuickBooks file, and it won’t open. It either hangs up, or you get a fatal error.

What then? You generally have two options.

1. Restore your last good backup and rekey some work to get caught up. This is the normal method. You might want to explore an online backup option, if you don’t have confidence in your current backup plan.

2. Get your damaged data repaired. This is not cheap, but it is easy and fast. And at least with our data repair services, the repair is guaranteed successful, or there is no charge.

Here is what a couple of our data repair clients said about their experience:

“I am an IT Director for a large Florida company that has offices throughout the state.  We have been a long time QuickBooks user on an enterprise level for as long as I can recall.  I experienced nothing but frustration when dealing with Intuit and as an organization we were very close to moving away from QuickBooks totally.  We may have outgrown what QuickBooks offers but there is a lot to be said with familiarity, user training and deployment of a new system companywide.

When we encountered numerous issues and problems with our large company file,  Shannon provided the fix overnight by repairing errors within our file and markedly improving performance.  It is great to have him and his team as a resource and as our go to expert.  Don’t waste your time going anywhere else.” — Keith Lucier, Girard Environmental Services, Inc.

________________________________________________________________

“One of my customers had a QB data file that was totally unusable.  And they had not been performing their backups like they should.  They were in big trouble and were going to have to recreate everything.  They did have an old backup from over a year ago.  That along with the transaction file allowed AccountingUsers, Inc. to save the day.  They restored everything and we were back in business.  No re-entry required, at all.  THANKS FOR A FANTASTIC JOB!!!” — Dan Gray, DGE Automation, Inc.

As a business person myself, I understand that finding one’s self with a bad data file is no fun. So I hope it doesn’t happen to you. But if it does, we’re here to get your accounting department back to work ASAP.

There’s a certain kind of data corruption that can happen to QuickBooks data files that prevents you from being able to add new users, or change existing ones.

We’ve seen this the most in version 2012 and 2013 files. The scenario plays out like this:

* Errors when trying to add new users
* Errors when trying to save changes to existing users
* One user can perform functions in QuickBooks, but another user with equivalent privileges cannot.
* One user cannot log in (but others can)
* One user cannot save customer credit card information, or employee social security numbers, or vendor tax IDs

All of these are symptoms of  corruption in the user data in the file.

The options are to restore a pre-corrupted backup of the data, or to get the file repaired.

Have you run into this problem? How was it manifested?

We were curious about what mobile devices — smartphones or tablets, either — QuickBooks users are using the most. So we dug down into the stats of the QuickBooks Forums to see. (The QuickBooks Forums is our independent discussion group for QuickBooks users and experts, and is by far the most popular non-Intuit online support resource.)

There have been over 30,000 visits from mobile devices to the QuickBooks Forums so far this year. How is the Apple vs. Android battle playing out among our visitors? Are there more visits coming in from tablets or smartphones?

Here is the breakout so far in 2013.

Apple dominates.

 

As you might have guessed, Apple rules the mobile platform roost: 73% of mobile visits are from iPhones or iPads, and just about equally distributed between those two devices.

Various generations and models of Samsung Galaxy smartphones, taken altogether, comprise 10% of the visits, and the remainder of the Android universe comprises another 13%. So Android devices make up 23% of mobile visits.

The remainder of the visits were from Blackberry, Windows Phone, other devices, or of unknown (but mobile) origins.

It’s just common sense that there shouldn’t be many deleted transactions in your QuickBooks file.

If there are a lot of deleted transactions, then it could mean that a lot of mistakes are being made, or someone is trying to hide something. There could be other explanations too, but usually they would not be good news either.

So how can you check and see what has been deleted?

Fortunately, there is a report just for that. It’s called the “Voided/Deleted Transaction” report. It comes in summary and detail formats. You access it by clicking the Reports / Accountant and Taxes menu.

When you run the report, it will show you transactions that have been voided or deleted. It will break that out by the user, so you can see what transactions each user has deleted/voided. It shows the type of transaction and the date the transaction was deleted. Below that, the report shows a kind of audit trail of the original transaction.

Here’s an example. Click on it to enlarge.

Deleted or voided transactions will show up under the headings for the original user, and the user who deleted or voided the transaction. In the example above, Anna both wrote a check to Chris Markley and then deleted the check.

You can change the date range for shown transactions, or click the Customize Report button to add filters to the report.

Have you had issues with deleted or voided transactions in your office? Feel free to share your story with your reply.

First of all, it won’t look exactly the same. But you can make it look a lot more like QuickBooks 2012 (or prior) than it does by default, which looks like this:

Here’s what you start with

Some (many?) folks don’t like the monochromatic look that was one of the most obvious changes in the 2013 version.

To make it look more like it used to, first of all make sure that you have R6 update (or later) installed. Prior to R6, you were pretty much stuck with the black/white/gray mode. To check for updates, just click Help / Update QuickBooks… and let it check for more current updates than you currently have installed.

So after getting R6 or later installed, click Edit / Preferences. Click Desktop View in the left pane. You’ll see this:

Click the checkbox for “Switch to colored icons/light background on the Top Icon Bar” and then click OK.

Now click View, and click “Top Icon Bar”.

Voila! This is what your QuickBooks desktop will then look like:

Looks a bit more familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s a beauty, ain’t it? Nice, colorful icons up top, just like you’re used to. They changed the graphics for the icons, and I think the font is a little different, but it’s a lot more like the look you had in 2012 and prior versions.

 

Let’s say that you have QuickBooks users in your office that need to be able to process sales with credit cards on file, but you don’t want those users to be able to see the credit card details that are stored in QuickBooks.

This is easy to accomplish.

In QuickBooks, just click Company / Edit Users and Passwords / Set Up Users.

Select the user for whom you want to restrict credit card access. Click Edit User.

Click Next until you get to the Sales and Accounts Receivable Screen. You’ll see this:

quickbooks view credit card numbers
Just one click makes credit card numbers viewable or not.

Uncheck the box at the bottom that says “View complete customer credit card numbers” and then click Finish.

Make this adjustment to the permissions of any users for whom you wish to prevent a view of customer credit cards.

RELATED: How to Restrict User Access in QuickBooks
                  Why Can’t I Lock a User Out of That?

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