Mind of Murph
I am writing this after having commented in another blog in response to a situation encountered by a QuickBooks Enterprise User (who was not my client). I started to write about this experience a few weeks ago, when I was ‘hot enough for steam to whistle from my ears’ over the roughly 6-hours spent on the telephone with technical support 3 times, customer support 3 times, and connected services 2 times. Of course more than half my time was ‘on-hold’. Rather that write about what I experienced on behalf of my client while ‘hot around the collar’, I decided to wait for a bit.
All of what I write here comes from my experiences with this matter, and what was ‘explained to me’ during those 6-hours. I have no special insight, no ‘hidden technical support manual’ or ‘customer service protocols’ shedding light on any of this, just the notes I took during and after the call.
With all that said, let’s get on with the meat of the matter. Typically we see clients who ‘grow’ in size, and using the Intuit model they move from QB-Pro (1, 2 or 3 users) to QB-Premier (5 users) to QB-Enterprise (5 user, then 10 user and perhaps 30 user). Everyone is happy so long as they are growing, and paying Intuit more money. Of course for an Enterprise user the bucks flow on an annual basis in the form of the Full Support Plan (FSP) after the initial year of their Enterprise license. The cost of the FSP is based upon the user-license-level (5, 10 or 30 users). The Enterprise FSP also includes some connected services, and if you need the Advanced Inventory features you pay an additional subscription fee but it is attached to your FSP which is attached to your Enterprise license. You can’t have Advanced Inventory without an active FSP for a specific license to which it is attached.
As long as you are growing, no problem; want to upgrade this year’s 5-user Enterprise to 10-users for next year, it's easy as paying the difference in license levels and FSP costs. Everything moves forward and remains ‘connected’ and attached just fine, even if you choose NOT to use the most current product. In other words if your client is using Enterprise 2013 and they had Advanced Inventory, their 2014 FSP and Advanced Inventory subscription does not ‘disconnect’ their ability to use 2013 including the Advanced Inventory features.
But that is where happiness ends; if you ever ‘decrease users’ and want to ‘move down’ the Enterprise ladder it becomes a nightmare. If your client was on Enterprise 2013 30-user with a paid-up FSP and an Advanced Inventory subscription, and they downsized their operations and in so doing migrated to 10-users for Enterprise 2014 with a paid-up FSP and an Advanced Inventory subscription, at the flick of a switch they no longer have connected services or Advanced Inventory in their 2013 product. Actually when I say, flick of a switch, what I mean is an Intuit license server update and/or QuickBooks product sync.
The difference appears to be in how Intuit licenses their products, as long as you are growing within Enterprise your product ID may change for level of license but your licenses are all tied to a common number that is associated with your FSP and any connected services including any Advanced Inventory subscription you have paid for. If you are not ready to use your 2014 10-user license, you are still happy while remaining on 2013 5-user as they work out the bugs in 2014; no problem everything works fine, apparently because you are paying ‘more’ for your new 10-user FSP even though you are really only using a 5-user product.
Unfortunately the reverse doesn’t apply. When you downgrade, you are given an entirely new license number that is associated with only the most current FSP for the level of Enterprise you just downgraded to. The old license number and FSP accounts are made ‘inactive’ and as far as Intuit is apparently concerned, you are entitled to nothing in connection with those past licenses you paid for; it’s almost as if you never were their customer at all. The only way to get anything connected back for those licenses is to reactivate them and pay an FSP and connected service fees (including Advanced Inventory) for that license number even though you just paid for the current year. In other words, if you want to use your old product you must essentially pay ‘double’ (for the old license and for the new license too.)
Your only other solutions are to ‘forget your fears of a buggy new product’ and migrate immediately so that you can receive the features you are now ‘paying for’; or continue working in your older version without the features and FSP support you are still purchasing for your new license. Of course working in an Advanced Inventory file, without Advanced Inventory turned-on, is like “jabbing yourself in the eye with a sharp stick”, because any/every-thing you do will make your situation worse.
Under this scenario I hate to think what would happen if you had severe ‘data damage’ in your old file that would prevent it from being upgraded to the new version. I guess you would have to renew your FSP under your old license so that Intuit Data Services would work on your file to get it fixed so that you could then upgrade the file to the new version. But wait if you paid for the old license FSP you are back to square one…does it sound like a ‘catch-22’? You are exactly right….pay me now, pay me later, pay me both altogether.
Until now, I have never seen the need to caution a client against ‘upgrading to a larger number of licenses’. I had absolutely no idea of the ‘terrors involved’ in downsizing, but in the future I will be telling each and every client that migrating up should not be done until it is absolutely positively necessary, because downsizing peacefully is only ‘a pipe dream’.