Wells Fargo and Intuit Join Forces to Ruin My Weekend

I’m absolutely pissed at Wells Fargo and Intuit right now!

You’ll have to excuse me that all professionalism has fled from me as I write this. I have just come through a painful migration not of my choosing. Confusing decisions by Wells Fargo and Intuit have eaten a significant portion of my weekend and cost me $60 to purchase new software. After all of this I am still not made whole. I’m not sure I will ever be.

The World that Was

For many years I have been a Wachovia checking customer. As you probably know Wachovia was one of the banks that didn’t make it through the mortgage meltdown of 2008 and was acquired by Wells Fargo. The transition of the Wachovia franchise to Wells Fargo has been a relatively slow, state-by-state process. Recently the Commonwealth of Virginia made the switch. All of my accounts have been transitioned from Wachovia to Wells Fargo. This includes digital access to my account information.

I have also been a long-time user of Intuit’s personal money management software. In 2008 Intuit chose to no longer update Quicken for the Macintosh and rather introduced a lightweight application called Quicken Essentials. It seemed odd at the time that the team at Intuit would choose to basically downgrade a computer platform on a strong ascendency with an attractive user base. But Quicken Essentials was Good Enough™. I was able to download transactions for all of my checking, savings and credit card accounts– including my Wachovia accounts. So I cast caution to the wind, moved my data over and continued along with Quicken Essentials.

Wells Fargo Upsets the Apple Cart

Last weekend Wells Fargo pulled the switch on moving the Wachovia customer base in Virginia over to Wells Fargo. Imagine my surprise to find that Wells Fargo does not allow users to automatically download their transaction records to Quicken Essentials. Quicken? Yes. QuickBooks? Yes. But Quicken Essentials? No.

Since there is no longer a Quicken for the Mac, Wells Fargo is effectively telling their customers who happen to own and use Macintosh computers that they are second class. Oh, sure, there is a kludge whereby you can download a transaction file and manually upload your account details to Quicken Essentials, but the process is a pain compared to the single button click update I enjoyed as a Wachovia customer.

Wachovia supported this function. Other banks large and small support this function. But not Wells Fargo. Why not? I haven’t been able to find a satisfactory answer. Most of the forums I review suggest that Wells has asked Intuit not to allow this access. The only reason I can imagine is that there is some smal IT overhead to support this access. I can’t really imagine what that is, but I don’t believe asking a major bank to do what it takes to deliver these table stakes is asking too much. My small local bank that owns my business account offers full access via Quicken Essentials. If the inky-dinky local bank can do it the mighty Wells Fargo can make it happen. ‘Nuff said.

quicken essentials is a roach motel

Upon learning that Wells would not support Quicken Essentials I had to once again swallow hard and move forward. Since I run Parallels on my Mac and have a virtual Windows 7 machine I decided it would be easier to eat the $60 to purchase and install Quicken Deluxe 2011 for Windows on my virtual machine. This is sub-optimal considering the slower performance of applications running in a virtual machine. At the time, though, I thought it would still be easier than changing banks.

Intuit, we have a problem!

Intuit, we have a problem!

You cannot believe how extremely surprised I am to learn that Quicken Essentials cannot export files to a format that can be imported by Quicken. Remember in the movie Apollo 13 when the crew had to built a Carbon Dioxide scrubber from scraps, spare parts and a sock because the scrubbers in the command module were incompatible with the scrubbers in the lunar module? Well, Intuit’s approach to file formats makes the Apollo design choices look like… well… rocket science. I can’t even fathom a “Why” for this decision. It’s pure stupidity.

In summary, these two companies have made three decisions of varying impact that never should have been made:

  1. Intuit should have maintained a full version of Quicken on the Mac. Since building an application for a separate platform can be expensive, choosing not to do this is the most understandable or justifiable of all of the stupid decisions these two companies have made.
  2. Wells Fargo should support full access to Quicken Essentials users to download their transactions the same way the customers of ever other bank worth their salt are able to do. There’s zero excuse that this is not available.
  3. Intuit should definitely support file export and import among all of the financial applications. At the very least there should be a file format usable by all flavors of Quicken. Not allowing export from Quicken Essentials to Quicken is stupidity of JarJarian proportions.

As it stands I’ve spent a significant part of my weekend trying to make a transition that should have taken just a minute or two. I’m worse off as both a bank customer and a software user than I was before the transition happened. I’m out $60. Now I’m in the market for a new bank and a new personal finance application.

17 responses to “Wells Fargo and Intuit Join Forces to Ruin My Weekend

  1. The Quicken Essentials to Quicken is probably the dumbest of them…I mean, it’s an “upgrade”, so being able to migrate your data would seem, I dunno, logical. #Fail

  2. Schwab Bank + Yodlee.com or Mint.com (Yodlee is uglier, but I prefer it since Mint has been acquired by Intuit).

  3. I worked at a few banks in the past and it really not that they want to leave you hanging, it is that they probably use a suite of software for their entire banking systems…and they are at the mercy of that vendor. If they don’t have support for your export format, they can’t just make it happen. They don’t even have access to the source code. They will need to wait until the vendor comes out with an update. Even worse, if the demand is too low, they will never come out with an update.

  4. James Hendrickson

    May I recommend a combination of mint.com and usaa (if you qualify to be a member). I was a wells fargo customer and hated the service as well. I have never been happier, so much so that we moved our home insurance and car insurance to usaa; my one qualm is that they do not insure motorcycles.

  5. I’m pretty happy with Moneywell as my financial program for Mac. You can download a trial to test it out. It imports some quicken files, but I’m not sure which type since I’ve never been a quicken user. if you need something more powerful, there’s always GNUcash. It’s ugly on OS X, but it works, and it’s free.

  6. Karl M. Davis

    I noticed that someone recommended MoneyDance [1] in the Hacker News discussion of this article. I took a look at it, and noticed that its latest release supports importing from Quicken Essentials for Macs [2].

    You might want to give it a shot. Worst-case, you can probably use it to import and then export right back out into Quicken for Windows. They offer a limited functionality trial, so you might not even have to pay anything if that’s all you want to do. Disclaimer: their website mentions import features, but I don’t see any explicit mention of an exporter.

    [1] http://www.moneydance.com/
    [2] http://moneydance.com/blog/archives/434

  7. Personally, I’d switch banks. Find one that supports what you have….maybe a small local bank.

  8. WF is just another clone of B of A. Greedy, with uncaring reps. Go with a local CU and use mint.com.

  9. Quicken Essentials does support downloads from Wells Fargo, if you are just downloading transactions and balances (it doesn’t support bill pay features). Have you tried going through the Add Account process and activating on Wells Fargo?

    Quicken Team member

  10. That’s weird. I’m a WF customer and Quicken Essentials works for me using the auto-download stuff. Perhaps it’s because your account is a migrated Wachovia account?

    I moved from Bank of America after they pulled some dirty tricks and I’ve been content at Wells Fargo since then.

  11. According to the directions for setting up Quicken Essentials I downloaded last week from Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo only supports Web Connect in Quicken Essentials. This is the less useful method of downloading a transaction file that then needs to be processed in order for transactions to be loaded into QE.

    On Eddy’s advice in the comments just now I used the “Add Account” function, and this appears to have worked. I’ll feel better once I know more than just the opening balances appear.

    Provisionally I’m open to being haven proven wrong about Wells Fargo not supporting Quicken Access to transactions. I’ll reserve judgement for a few days. However, I’m disappointed that the directions provided by Wells Fargo for this transition have proven to be inaccurate. The inability to export from Quicken Essentials to other Intuit products remains unacceptable.

  12. August Jackson,

    I have the same issues with QE and Wells.

    In reference to Eddy’s comment on add account.

    I have tried this for a Wells Fargo account and while it adds the account, it does not seem to update to be capable of updating the information after the initial connection?

    Attempting to update gets me an error message? Are you having success getting updates the following day, or days ?

  13. Thanks, Jeff. Quicken Essentials has successfully downloaded new transactions since I added the account. While I’m still holding off saying the problem is solved, it does appear to be working for me. Strange that it’s not working for you.

    The instructions I initially used to set up my account in Quicken Essentials are here: https://www.wellsfargo.com/downloads/pdf/wachovia/softwaresettings/ckgwcqemsetup.pdf. The document clearly states that Wells only supports QE’s Web Connect function. Web Connect requires a multi-step process to update your transactions and is much less useful than the Quicken Connect function that incorporates your new transactions in a single-click update. Wachovia and almost every other bank supports Quicken Connect.

    At the moment it does appear that I have Quicken Connect working with my Wells Fargo checking accounts. However, this is after I followed a process to create an account different from the process described in the instructions from Wells Fargo. Those instructions also specify that Web Connect is the connection option available from Wells Fargo.

  14. Your roach motel comment is awesome–and spot on. I converted when Microsoft pulled the plug on Money about a year or so ago. From its inception, this product seems to have been a problem. It arrived (years?) late, it first released with a severely limited feature set (so much so that they lowered the price, quickly spun up another release, and refunded some of the money customers originally paid for the product), and it’s entirely incompatible with QuickBook for Mac. The crux of these issues falls largely on the limited data exchange formats supported by Quicken Essentials. The fact that it no longer supports their own Quicken Interchange Format as an import or export option severely handicaps the product. I have to imagine that Intuit’s support team gets a lot of hate about this.

    I’d suggest you provide feedback on their web site at http://quicken.intuit.com/support/feedback/mac-essentials/.

  15. It even better. WF does not allow download of Wachovia data for the year. You have to manually enter 3000+ transactions. Not even a csv. There has to be someone to take the complaint?

  16. 2 weeks ago I got Quicken Essentials on my laptop, and was excited to see that I can setup all my WF accounts to download directly. Almost daily I downloaded updates from QE. However a week ago, it stopped working, and it gives an error message. Both quicken and WF say that I cannot download transactions directly into QE. However it worked for a few days. No one seems to have an explanation to that!!!! Not sure what to do….and I agree WebConnect is not a good option. Any suggestions?

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