I have been a Quicken user since 1987 – 27 years. Quicken allows me to keep track of income and expenses, and it has, until now, allowed me to pay any bill to any vendor online.
The convenience of this is impressive. If I want to pay the electric bill, I type the first letter or two of the utility company, and then I hit the tab key and type in the amount. Then I hit return and the bill is put into my payment queue. Later I can post all of my payments to be paid. It takes seconds, and it has been, mostly, flawless all these years.
This week my version of Quicken stopped working for online banking. Not a word from them – which is typical. Quicken is not known for communicating with their customers.
I went online for an arduous text session with a kind young man who tried to help me. After about 30 minutes typing back and forth, he asked if I was a user of Quicken Bill Pay. That was where I thought we had started the conversation, but he was late to the party. Once I told him that I was (for the second time), he indicated that Quicken will no longer support Bill Pay on the Mac.
This happened once before, about five years ago when we Mac users received a rude Dear John letter from Quicken telling us that they would no longer support the Mac platform. Many of us rebelled, and eventually we got a reprieve. Quicken extended the life of its 2007 version, making it compatible with the newer operating systems from Apple. That version held out until this week.
Quicken 2015 for Mac is filled with wonderful features, few of which I care about. And, they don’t actually tell you in their promotional material that is will no longer allow you to pay your bills online. I am pretty unhappy about this.
There are a few critical things I use Quicken for: ledgers of my bank accounts – income, outgo, categories of expenditures, etc. At the end of every quarter I make a report of business income, categorized, and I use that to file and pay my sales taxes. At the end of the year I produce a report of the entire year, categorized, and give it to my accountant for his tax preparation work. It’s very convenient.
I will still be able to use Quicken for that, but not for paying my bills.
Quicken Bill Pay is actually a bank. They have a physical location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When I request a bill to be paid, they will either print and mail a check or make an electronic funds transfer to the vendor (their decision). It’s very simple. Most of my payments resulted in physical checks being printed and mailed to my vendors, and each month these show up on my bank statement as photocopies of the actual checks. Payments to large organizations – like the electric company – show up in the electronic funds transfer list in the same statement.
For this, Quicken has charged me about $10 each month for 27 years. And I have paid it with a smile. In a typical month I would have spent that much on postage, envelopes and printed checks if I did it manually. Those charges will now go away.
What will I do without Quicken Bill Pay? My local bank has an online bill payment system. I tried it for the first time today, and it’s easy enough to use. It keeps my vendors in a list, so it will be easy to pay the same vendor next month. I think that will work fine. And, it is free. As I pay these bills online, they will go directly into my bank statement, which might be a bit easier in the long run – no more hand entry of expenditures in the Quicken ledger.
As for my business reports, my local bank will allow me to download my transactions to my computer in a Quicken-compatible file format. That will probably allow me to continue to work with Quicken for my reports and annual statements by importing the bank statements into Quicken. And, if I upgrade to Quicken 2015, it claims that it will download my transactions directly from my bank – I might try that.
I will save $120 per year in fees, and I will have to spend a few more minutes paying my bills than I have in the past. And it will get done, and I will grumble about the slight inconvenience, and I will move on.
Nothing lasts forever. This one lasted for 27 years. Adieu, Quicken Bill Pay!
An addendum: On Sunday, December 14, 2014, Quicken announced a fix to their software that gives a new lease on life for online bill-paying. It took about a month, but they have updated the software so that it will work.