Money 2005 Customers Feel Short Changed

Just days after product's official release, customers who placed their transactions to purchase copies of Microsoft's Money 2005 financial management software are alleging that they were short changed.

Microsoft support newsgroups are rife with displays of cognitive dissonance and customer dissatisfaction over what are alleged to be serious quality control issues - primarily concerning online bill paying features.

Microsoft considers Money 2005 to be a significant advancement in the product's evolution where it has taken Money back to "essentials" to address three primary tasks: checking account balances, monitoring spending and paying bills. In addition to simplifying Money, Microsoft has souped up the software's ability to download clients' account information from banks, credit card companies and brokerages while reducing the need for manual data entry.

The tighter ties between Money and MSN mean that customers can manage portfolios, stay informed and pay bills online. However, this integration paved the way for the sharpest criticisms from the early adopters. Aside from scattered complaints made over Microsoft's changes to categories, and an apparent inability for some users to match downloaded transaction with transactions in their personal registers; customers report that MSN Bill Pay will not work post upgrade.

To be more specific, posts to the support newsgroup claim that synchronization between the MSN Money Website and Money is broken by the release, leaving some customers unable to synch with their bank accounts. Microsoft suggests that customers upgrading from Money 2004 should temporarily turn off the feature to access their information online and contact MSN Bill Pay support - not reenroll in MSN Bill Pay. This solution did not resonate with some customers.

"Their 'solution' to my issued involved, re-installing Money 2004, ending MSN Bill Pay Service in that application, re-installing 2005, and starting a new account with MSN Bill Pay there," read one complaint.

Additional feedbacks read: "After struggling for the better part of 2 days with many of the issues I have read about on this board relating to Money 2005, primarily involving MSN Bill Pay, I am 'throwing in the towel' and going back to Money 2004. After being bounced around all day from MSN Bill Pay 'customer service' to Microsoft Support, back to MSN Bill Pay, over to Check Free, back to Microsoft Support, I have just about had enough," wrote another customer.

Other customers demanded the software's "Money-Back Guarantee", or claimed to have downgraded to previous versions of the software. A group of customers have even taken it upon themselves to establish an "unofficial" bug-list.

To keep perspective, BetaNews readers have pointed out that competitor Intuit has also seen its share of troubles in its Quicken 2005 release. Intuit has retired its .QIF data interchange in favor of a proprietary format that critics allege "pits customers against partners" by using the installed base of Quicken users as leverage to obtain higher fees from financial institutions. Many of these institutions have refused to adopt the format; consequently reducing the available options for Intuit customers.

Money 2005 and details on pricing are available from Microsoft retail partners or directly from Microsoft at the Money Web site.

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