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Intuit's incompetence

If you're ever looking for an example of just how badly a help file can be written, consider the following example. This is from the help file from Intuit's Quicken 6 for Windows. (The help file for Quicken 99 Deluxe has the same error with slightly different text, meaning that this has been edited -- yet the blatant incompetence remains, four years later.)

U. S. savings bond values tend to be quoted for a $100 bond, and the values of other bonds are calculated based on that. For example, a $50 savings bond is worth exactly half as much as an (otherwise equivalent) $100 savings bond, throughout its life. A $1000 savings bond is worth ten $100 savings bonds. It's not brain surgery.

Now that you know what's going in, read Intuit's inept descrption of what you just learned. Emphasis is mine.

To record the purchase of U.S. Savings Bonds:

1From the investment account register or Security Detail View, click the EasyActions button, and then choose Buy/Add Shares.
2In the Security box, enter a meaningful name, such as US $1000 6% 1/23 for the purchase of a bond with a face value of $1000, series EE bond, maturity date 1/20/23. If you have more than one savings bond, make sure the name you enter here is unique.

The Set Up Security window appears.

3Enter the setup information about the bond, and then click OK. The Buy/Add Shares form redisplays.
4In the Number of Shares box, enter the number of bonds you bought multiplied by 10. This is to match the way prices are quoted. In this example, you'd enter 10.
5In the Price box, enter the purchase price divided by 10. This is to match the way bond prices are quoted. In this example, the purchase price of the bond was $500, so you'd enter 50 in the box. The Total of Sale is $500.00.

In other words, if you have a $25 bond (bought for $12.50), Intuit apparently advocates that you enter it into Quicken as ten $2.50 bonds, bought at $1.25 apiece. That not what they mean, but that what's they say.

I was puzzled by this until I had the realization that the help file was probably written by a kid just out of college who hadn't the least clue about anything mathematical or financial. My brain clicked into math-teacher mode (I once taught math) and it was clear sailing ahead!

 

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Page last updated: 1 June 1999
©1998-2000, Richard J. Yanco