Friday, March 9, 2007

Bonding with Quickbooks tech support

Against the advice of two fellow entrepreneurs, I’ve decided to start off by keeping my own financial books. I know my time crunching numbers as a newbie consultant at BCG that there’s a command of the real picture that comes seems to magically emerge from managing the information yourself. At least until you have done it enough to be able to trust your own pattern recognition capabilities.

I set myself up for Bank of America’s online payroll system (free if employees have an account at Bank of America), and ordered Quickbooks from Amazon. Then I found someone on Craig’s list who said he could do a quick tutorial and get me up and running in a matter of just a few hours. It seemed foolproof.

Except that Quickbooks won't load on my laptop. I’ve said that to several people – my husband, my technology guru Jeanne, and my neighbor. All three had the same response – “Maybe I should have a look.”

But when I say, “Quickbooks won’t load on my laptop,” I MEAN “Quickbooks WILL NOT LOAD on my laptop.” I mean that I’ve spent two-and-a-half hours with a poor Quickbooks technical support installing and uninstalling, hard-installing, double-hard re- booting, and “going-around-the-speed-bumps-instead-of-over-them” installing. Finally, I had to give up control of my computer to my support guy, who, as it turned out, was working from India, where it was 3am in the morning.

Although we were strangers on different continents, our time together was oddly intimate. We were comfortable chatting, but also comfortable just sitting, wordlessly waiting out yet another ten minute install. Apart, and yet together.

Every once in a while, he would break the silence by clearing his throat. Then, hesitantly, “would you mind very much if I asked you a question? ”

Something in his voice told me it wasn’t about the install.

It wasn't. “I have always wondered, what does it mean, LLC?”

He was very polite, my first Quickbooks tech support friend. At one point, while my computer was installing (yet again), he asked me, “would you mind very much if I just took just three minutes to go to the washroom?” After everything we’d been through together, it seemed churlish to say no.

My second Quickbooks tech support relationship was very different. This time I got a chatterbox from Arizona who was just about to go see a child custody lawyer as soon as we were done.

By the time I got off the phone with him, I learned that he had once dated someone who owned a nail parlor, and that he loved taking his four year old daughter to McDonalds. And although he had been divorced for only under a year, his ex-wife was engaged to be married to her best friend’s brother, who lived in Chicago. He was hoping that his ex-wife and daughter weren’t going to move, but just to be sure, he was going to court to modify his child custody because he didn’t have a lawyer the first time, so his ex-wife got sole custody. “I just want to see her on the weekend sometimes, you know?”

The story did go on a little longer than my download, but it seemed rude to interrupt just to tell him that the Quickbooks icon had appeared on my desktop (false alarm, it still didn't open).

Several Quickbooks tech/customer support/ sales relationships later, I’ve given up on ever installing the software and have opted instead for the online service (with some discounts that Quickbooks very nicely agreed to). By that point, I was too exhausted to get past inputting my name and address, but that’s farther than I got with the other version.

While I wish nothing but the best for all of my new Quickbooks friends all over the world, I wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t have a reason to call them ever again.