Lawsuit hits Intuit on lack of Quicken Y2K compliance

A New York law firm is charging that Intuit violated consumer protection laws by failing to inform customers that some versions of its Quicken personal finance software are not fully prepared for the year 2000 changeover and by then failing to offer adequate remedies for the problem.

A class action lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court by Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann on behalf of people who bought the software, states that Intuit has admitted that the online banking functions in Quicken versions 5 and 6 cannot handle transactions after December 31, 1999.

"They should have told people (of the problem) when they bought it, and now they are seeking to profit" from the problem by forcing customers to buy a new, upgraded version of Quicken that can handle online banking transactions from January 1, 2000, said Jeffrey Klafter, a partner at the law firm representing the plaintiffs. Intuit's behaviour breaches implied warranties and consumer protection laws, he added.

Intuit has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit, Klafter said.

In contrast to Intuit, he said, a many software companies are offering free patches or fixes to customers who have purchased versions of their software packages that do not properly handle dates from 2000 onward.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all purchasers of Quicken releases 5 and 6 (both Windows and Mac versions) and seeks damages as well as injunctive relief to compel Intuit to rectify the problems without charge, according to a statement from the law firm. The complaint states that Quicken version 6 was sold until October of last year.

"All told, thousands of consumers paid millions of dollars for this software expecting to be able to use it into the next century," Klafter said in a press release. "Now, these consumers, who have become accustomed to using Quicken, will have to spend a minimum of $US35 to purchase Quicken 98 -- the only version of Quicken that is fully year-2000 compliant."

Intuit officials were unavailable for comment.

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