Following my two posts (linked below) about the Intuit imbroglio, I thought the following e-mail exchange between myself and Mr. Brad Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Intuit, might be of interest to my readers. It began a couple of days ago, when I e-mailed him concerning the situation at Gunsite.
Dear Mr. Smith,
I understand that your company has chosen to discriminate against Gunsite Academy in Arizona by denying them the use of your financial services. I might point out that Gunsite Academy is involved in training some of America’s finest military personnel and first responders. I speak as a retired military officer and Chaplain, who is well aware of the excellence of Gunsite Academy’s offerings.
You are, of course, free to adopt whatever policies you please as a corporation. However, so am I. Last month I formed a new company in Texas, Sedgefield Press, to act as a corporate vehicle for my writing activities. I have published over a dozen books so far, and according to Author Earnings’ statistics, I rank within the top 1% (by earnings) of conventionally- and self-published writers in the United States.
I had discussed accounting software with our accountant, who recommended Quickbooks to me. However, following your decision to discriminate against Gunsite and similar institutions, I shall instead give my business to a company that does not discriminate against lawful commerce and industry for the sake of political correctness. What’s more, I shall advise my colleagues, fellow authors, and industry professionals to do likewise, for every product offered by Intuit.
You should be ashamed of yourselves for such blatant non-commercial discrimination. However, I suspect political correctness is more important to you than a sense of shame.
This morning, Mr. Smith replied, copying his e-mail to several other individuals at Intuit, whom I presume are legal representatives or account managers.
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your point of view. There seems to be some confusion about this situation, so I want to be very clear about our policy.
In-person sales of firearms are permitted under our payment guidelines. However, there are transactions that are prohibited by our partner bank and our own policy if they take place in situations other than face-to-face. Firearms sales that do not occur in a face-to-face transaction are one of those situations. With that said, in-person sales of firearms are not prohibited.
This policy is not new and has not changed. Our small business customers are made aware of these terms, and must agree to them, before they begin using our payments processing services.
I hope this helps clarify our position on the matter.
I have just replied, as follows.
Dear Mr. Smith,
You are misinformed, sir. No, I repeat, NO firearm transfers can take place between a buyer and a Federally licensed seller (such as Gunsite) UNLESS the legally required background check form has been filled out and signed, the purchaser’s identity has been checked, the background check has taken place, and a NICS clearance number for the transaction has been issued. Mail-order firearms sales are no different. If I order a firearm from Gunsite (or any other dealer), they are not permitted to ship it directly to me. Instead, I must make arrangements with a licensed firearms dealer in my state. Gunsite will ship it to that dealer, who will conduct the background check required by law. Only when I have passed that check may I take delivery of the firearm from them (paying an additional fee for their work in processing the transaction).
I simply cannot believe that a large corporation such as Intuit, with its many legal representatives on staff, can be unaware of this legal requirement. I therefore find your explanation disingenuous, at best. Furthermore, your company’s conduct w.r.t. the Lone Wolf – Flint River transaction, over and above the Gunsite imbroglio, implies that its fundamental philosophy is to make life as difficult as possible for its customers – those, at least, that it still has, and those probably not for long – in the firearms industry. I find it hard to believe that this is the result of pressure from “your partner bank”, as financial institutions must surely be aware of the legal situation. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN OFF-THE-BOOKS, NON-FACE-TO-FACE FIREARMS TRANSFER when it comes to a Federally licensed dealer. To suggest that there is, is preposterous. If the face-to-face transfer does not take place at the originating dealer, it must and will take place at the transferring dealer in the buyer’s home state. Anything less will result in Federal charges and prison time for those responsible, on both sides of the transaction. The same applies to a private seller. If the buyer is from another state, he or she must send the firearm to a dealer in that state to conduct a background check. Again, there will be severe consequences if this is not done.
In the light of your company’s conduct, and its inexplicable refusal to give an honest, timely, truthful explanation to its customers of its actions and motives, I have publicly called for a boycott of Intuit and all its products and services. I see no reason at this time to retract or modify that call. You will find my comments on your company’s actions at the following blog posts:
I have every hope that my several thousand daily readers will understand and respond to that call. You will also find – a quick Internet search will reveal – that I’m far from alone in my reaction to your company’s unbelievably inept handling of these situations.
I shall post your response, and my reply, on my blog later today, so that my readers can make up their own minds.
I leave you, dear readers, to make up your own minds. If you wish to contact Mr. Smith for clarification, his e-mail address (available publicly on Intuit’s Web site, so I’m not doxxing him in any way) is email@example.com . If you would like to know about excellent alternatives to Quickbooks for small business accounting software, see my article here.
His response reminds me of the "gun show loophole" which gun-phobic people bring up, no matter how many times it's been debunked, and his company is just "following our payment guidelines", no matter how untrue the actual situation vs the guidelines, is.
Further, what his company did calls back the Obama program: Operation Chokepoint, where Obama used the banks to shutdown gun dealers. It was called backk to life a couple of weeks ago, when Andrew Cuomo told the banks in NYC that "due to the NRA, we can't get 'common sense' gun control thru, so instead, maybe banks can address the issue by targeting the credit & payment of gun dealers'. Intuit sounds like they are responding to Andrew Cuomo's call by doing just that.
I'm on the search for a replacement banking software for Quicken at the moment. I've identified a couple and will report here after I've had a chance to test drive them. My software requirements are not extensive as my financial status is relatively simple. I'd be satisfied with a program that has the ability to download transactions from my bank, maintain a checkbook, and identify/report transactions for tax purposes. Anything further is just gravy.
Intuit has seen the last dime from me and mine.
Currently working on unwinding my relationships with two credit cards (AT&T, Bank of America) which I've had for 15-20yrs each.
I'll have to think about Intuit, simply because I get a copy of the software and use it until its incompatible with anything (really: I got a copy in ~1999?, and only had to upgrade when I got a new computer, so now I'm on the 2010? version).
Flugelman – and anyone else interested. There is a low cost solution called Moneydance, if all you need is a glorified checkbook. It will download transactions from your bank, but I turn such things off. All I really want is a nice checkbook that's easier to search than a drawer full of old registers ;-).
It uses the old Shareware model, so you can try before you buy.
Gah… BS and disingenuous is right!
I need to remember not to use Turbo tax next year. It was free on my bank website, but I need to remember no.
Thank you for this information.
Many years ago, Intuit only charged the end user for their product and gave the banks the layout for the file that was needed to import into Quicken and Quickbooks.
Then they determined that they should be also be able to charge the banks who want to provide this file to their customers. They now charge the banks a fee based on it's asset size. If your bank isn't in the Intuit table of approved banks, you won't be able to download your account information. We call that extortion as the banks are paying Intuit to have their name in a table. A few banks I know of pay over $100,000.00 a year for that privilege. The bank gets nothing for that payment. I think we could call that a monopoly in as mush as the DC folks declared ATT a monopoly and forced a split into regional Baby Bells and Microsoft because they had the lion's share of the personal pc operating system.
I'm not an advocate of the government poking their nose into business trade but maybe we can get Intuit to spend some of their money on attorney fees to defend that they are not a monopoly and are not restricting trade. I wonder if the Sherman Act could be invoked.
I closed my mint.com account and will return to Quicken. (Quicken USED to be owned by Intuit, but was spun off several years ago and is no longer under the Intuit umbrella).
Mr. Smith's reply is either deliberately ingenuous for purposes of deception and (im)plausible deniability, or it is inexcusable ignorance. It assumes the reader is a fool, if the former, or the author of that letter is, if the latter.
I spent nearly ten years in dealing with people, many in rather expensive transactions (custom car modification), and I would *never* treat a potential customer this way. Intuit is ill served by its CEO if this is the form (and it does read like a form letter) that they use to reply to honest criticism.
If this is the face the company is showing the world, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Their competitors will have a field day with this.
I got the same BS response from Mr. Smith. "Poor us – you're blaming us and it's not our fault – the bank is forcing us to do this…" What a crock of baloney.
You are correct, they certainly have enough lawyers on staff to know the law, and Mr. Smith can go piss up a rope, as far as my family's use of their "services".
Trouble with that statement is massive. Considering that Gunsite is more a trainer than anything else. Yeah, they are doubling down on stupid and rolling further left.
Someone over on SayUncle's blog suggested Xero (not direct linking, search of it yourself) for bookkeeping software, so I started a investigative chat with them specifically calling out this concern. Transcript is over here, 4th comment.
Just talked with USAA. They have a partnership with Turbotax, but the representative I spoke to says they don't have any direct way to work with other tax prep software like H&R Block. It'd have to be hand-entry from 1099-INTs.
I did submit a customer feedback telling them about the squirrel-y stuff Intuit is doing to firearm-related businesses, and my desire to cease doing business with Intuit, and their management may be contacting me for details.