Failures of the Subscription Model

I subscribe to many things: some unpaid, like political philosophies (which are worth every penny that I don’t pay), and some paid. The paid subscriptions are generally media — magazines, newspapers (Los Angeles Times, New York Times), and theatre. They all have the common characteristics of constantly bringing me something new.

Enter Quicken.

I’ve been using Quicken to track my checkbook and investments since the early to mid-1990s (I want to say my first version was Quicken 3 or 4). At some point I started downloading stock prices and transactions — first with an external program, then using Quicken mechanisms. Since then, I’ve been updating Quicken every three years, because Quicken designed their system so that you could no longer download into a version older than three years.

Last year was an upgrade year, so I moved to Quicken 2016. It’s been one of the worst versions I’ve used: slow, bug prone, non-responsive. Yet I’ve stuck with it and felt no urge to update to Quicken 2017. Perhaps Quicken 2019, when it comes out.

But then I was reading my RSS feeds, including an article about how Quicken (in Canada) is shifting to a subscription model. Quicken Home and Business will be CDN$90 per year. The core software must be installed on a Windows device, and will, Quicken said, be updated “to make sure you’re always on the newest version.” More importantly, however, is that the subscription offers one year of what Quicken dubbed “Connected Service,” the back end that supports transaction downloads from banks, credit card companies and other financial organizations.

But here’s the kicker: According to Quicken (at least in Canada): “if customers do not renew their subscription, they will lose more than just access to downloads from their bank. “While you can continue to access your data and run reports, you’ll no longer be able to download transactions, or add manual transactions [emphasis added],” a FAQ said in reply to a question about what happens when access to Connected Service ends.” Got that? Don’t pay up, and you can’t even use the software offline.

They haven’t said this is coming to the US Market, but you know it will. Further, it is something up with which I will not put.

So now the debate comes: Should I get Quicken 2017 to try to stave things off one year, or find another program. If the latter, what program? What are you using to keep track of personal finances? The program is worth $90 every three years, but not every year.

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