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 LLP 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. In a statement issued yesterday, the company said that it had not yet seen the complaint, but that, based on the press release issued by the law firm, it believes the lawsuit is wholly without merit.
Intuit will defend vigorously against the suit, the statement said.
Intuit denies that it is failing to fix the problem for customers of Quicken versions 5 and 6, and a spokesman said that the company's intent is to take care of customers and absorb most of the cost of upgrading the software to year 2000-compliance. Intuit intends to give out free patches fixing the software through the financial institutions with which the Quicken customers do their online banking, he said.
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.