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Monthly ArchiveJune 2009

Technology by Spencer on June 27, 2009

From Money to Quicken…

UPDATE: The guide can be found here (http://spencer.stantonfamilyonline.com/MoneyTransition.html).

A couple of weeks ago, when opening Microsoft Money; I got the pop up message stating that Microsoft will stop supporting Money over the next couple of years and will no longer produce new versions.  I have been a user of Money since I graduated college so this was quite devistating.  Now I would have to switch to Quicken or eventually lose the online services of Money (stock quotes, bank transactions, etc.) that I really enjoy.

The problem is this: there is NO GOOD way to move from Money to Quicken.  A number of years back, I ran Money and Quicken side by side to see which was better.  Money barely edged out Quicken and I hadn’t looked back since.  Now that I have to, I wanted to see if there was any better method for transitioning.  They have a new data converter; hopefully that will be better.  I tried it, and there is a lot left to be desired.  Accounts all come in as either banking or investing (no differentiation between credit cards or others you can create in Quicken, but once created can’t be changed, a short sighted error on Intuit’s part).  I’m fairly picky when it comes to the details in my finances, so that option just didn’t work for me.

I’m told that Quicken 2010 will have a better transition option from Money since they know now that Money won’t be updated; well I’m a bit bitter so I wanted to switch to Quicken quickly and get it over with instead of waiting for a transition plan that they’ve never gotten right in the 20+ years that they have competed in this market for personal finance software.

So, the bottom line is, I figured out my own method using as much automatic information from Money as possible and doing the rest by hand and I have now officially finished the switch to Quicken… would have been better to have made that decision 6 years ago.  I am sure that there are others that are interested so I will be writing an extensive guide and will post a link here to help out others who don’t want to wait and see if 2010 will have a good transition.  My guess is no matter what, there will be some manual work that needs to be done.

Overall, I still like Money and am sad that it is going away.  I’m sure Quicken will do all that I want and more and as I get used to it will forget all about Microsoft’s product.  Money, R.I.P.

Life by Spencer on June 19, 2009

Good Customer Service vs. Bad Customer Service

Recently, I’ve had two vastly different customer service experiences.  I wasn’t planning on writing about the bad one until the good one just happened providing a perfect contrast to write a significant post.

Anecdote 1:

Early last week, I received my league bowling money; which was a fairly decent payout with my 300 game and good sweeper weeks.  We decided to purchase a patio set with some/all of the money depending on how it worked out.  We went to Kmart and found one that we really liked.  I went up to purchase and got rang up.  After nearly 20 minutes, they come out with the chairs but say they are out of the table.  They call around to other stores and find one that has one in stock.  This was after the Kmart associate was on hold for 15 minutes with the another store.  It was about 30 minutes away, and we decided to make the drive even though it was already passed C-man’s bed time.

I get to the store and they inform me that yes, they have the table, but that it is on lay away for another customer.  I ask for my money back and they say they can refund the chairs but not the table since I don’t physically have it.  Furthermore, they state that the other store should have refunded my money for the table before I left (which begs the question of what would have happened if they did have the table available to me, would I have had to pay again?).  So, we drive back to the original store… another 30 minutes.

When I get back, I demand to talk to a manager who agrees to refund all the money, corraborates the story of the other store stating that I should have been refunded there and offers me a whopping $5 gift card, to help cover the gas.  How nice… we won’t be going back to that Kmart ever again (and preferrably not to Kmart at all).

Anecdote 2:

On Sunday, while watching golf, I decided to take a few practice swings trying something new in my living room… yes something bad was bound to happen and I’d be up for a Darwin Award if I had in fact lost my life.  I made sure I was clear of all furniture and things were ok… until I forgot about the ceiling fan.  A few swings were fine and then all of the sudden, crash, chink, oh crap!  Two of the glass bowls that surround the lights broke.  I own up to it and expect to buy a new fan.  We really like the fan in the family room and I knew it was from Lowe’s even though it was here when we got the house.

I e-mailed Lowe’s and got a response back saying they can probably help me if I get them the model number and the store I would most likely work with.  On Wednesday, we got a call from our local Lowe’s stating that they could order two new glass bowls for $14.50 each.  I just need to come in to order the bowls and they’d call me back when they came in.

Today, I went in and asked for the associate that had called.  The manager (although I didn’t know he was the manager at the time) told me he was off but we could work with someone else in the department to get it ordered.  I was able to point out which glass it was even though they didn’t have the estimate in the system as I hadn’t come in before.  They also had two of the later model of the fan in a shopping cart next to the desk; either they had been returned, or the original associate had used it to get the part for the bowl on my behalf.  I’m not sure which.

The manager quietly told the electrical representative to just get two bowls out and give them to me and they would worry about re-ordering if they need to later on.  As he gave them to me, I stressed that I was willing to pay and they told me no and told me that if I had trouble leaving to say that Eric (the manager) gave them to me.  I had no trouble leaving.  I’ve given that Lowe’s quite a bit of business in general (but they didn’t know that) and they really impressed me.

Such a contrast… one store that truly wasted my time was willing to give me a spit in the face (really, what can you get for $5, they want you to spend more)… the other, which had done nothing wrong at all, really took care of me.

A little customer service can go a long way… Lowe’s gets an A+ in my book!