QuickBooks

Fixing QuickBooks Online Accountant Account Problems

Written by Charlie Russell

Recently I wrote a “rant” about problems that I have been seeing with how QuickBooks Online Accountant deals with accounts, expressing my frustration with confusing listings when I sign in and when I connect to add-on apps, as well as confusion over where to find my “free” QuickBooks Online company file. As you might expect, Intuit responded, so here is an explanation of how these problems were created, and more importantly, how they can be cleaned up.

Why Was I Ranting?

I won’t go into all the details – you can find those in my rant article. I was talking about issues relating to what I see when I enter my Intuit ID in different places in relation to QuickBooks Online Accountant, as well as inconsistencies with how company names are displayed in various places. The problems I saw in my account fell into three broad categories (with variations):

  • Confusion over the Your Books menu option and My Company. Which is “my” QuickBooks Online company account?
  • Confusion over company names, where I would see different names listed in different places in the program.
  • A “parent” account that shows up on lists of login names.

Fixing QuickBooks Online AccountantI had a lot of questions. I don’t like inconsistency, I expect to see the same information in the various places where I am going to be asked to select an account to work with, and in my account things are very confusing. And I’m not alone, other QuickBooks ProAdvisors are seeing some of these same issues.

Finding a Pacifier for Charlie

After my rant article was published, several people at Intuit contacted me to provide some answers. The good news is that we can fix many of these problems. Some fixes I could do by myself, some will be resolved over time. In addition, understanding how things work “under the hood” leads to less confusion.

Note that many ProAdvisors won’t see some of the problems I ran into, because the problems relate to how long I’ve been using (and abusing) my account.

Let’s take a look, and along the way we’ll learn a bit more about how QuickBooks Online Accountant works.

QuickBooks Online Accountant, Old and New

We’ve had three major versions of QuickBooks Online Accountant over the years. The first release was back in 2011. I call that the “classic” version (my terminology, not Intuit’s). In early 2014 there was a change to the new updated user interface, which I have called the “harmony” version. Collectively we can call those the “old” versions. The current major version we have was released in December 2014, and I’ll call that the “new” version. Intuit doesn’t show any version number in their online products, so you can’t always tell what revision you are using. I find that annoying.

When the “new” version was first released it took Intuit some time to convert people from the older versions to the new version. This is at least partly due to there being some significant changes in the underlying database that had to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. That conversion was completed in November 2015. At this time, all QuickBooks Online Accountant users in the US, UK, Canada and Australia are on the new version. India users still have an older version, and QuickBooks Online Accountant hasn’t been released in France yet.

My Company vs. Your Books

When you sign up for QuickBooks Online Accountant you also get a free QuickBooks Online account for your own use. In older versions of QuickBooks Online Accountant this was listed as “My Company,” while in the new version you find it in the Your Books link in the left navigation menu.

One of the points of confusion in my Rant was that I could see “My Company” in the client list and client dropdown at the top, but that was a different QuickBooks Online account than what I found in the “Your Books” option in the left navigation bar. Shouldn’t these be the same company? Don’t I just get one free account? I was confused!

Your Books vs. My Company

Well, yes, you are supposed to get just one free company, but “Your Books” is different than “My Company.” This is one of those issues that new users to QuickBooks Online Accountant won’t see.

In older versions your “free” account was accessed through the “My Company” link. It was a separate file, only loosely connected to QuickBooks Online Accountant. We were told that we could use it for our own books, or use it as a “test” company to play around with QuickBooks Online to become familiar with the product. Some ProAdvisors went a bit further and actually provided access to that account to their clients, either for free or for a fee, which they shouldn’t have done. That created a problem for Intuit.

The “Your Books” company in the new QuickBooks Online Accountant is different. It is a special QuickBooks Online Plus company file that is tightly integrated with QuickBooks Online Accountant. One good example of this integration is that if you add a customer to the customer list in the “Your Books” company file, that customer also shows in your QuickBooks Online client list. Interesting, I hadn’t noticed that!

A Customer in QBO is a Client in QBOA

The older “My Company” company isn’t “Your Books,” it is a different account. So why didn’t Intuit convert “My Company” over to “Your Books” and just drop it from the client list? Consider these issues:

  • Lots of ProAdvisors (like me) used “My Company” for testing, rather than to run my own company. If Intuit had converted “My Company” into “Your Books” for me, I would have a lot of bogus “clients” showing up in QuickBooks Online Accountant, since the “Your Books” customer list is duplicated in your client list. Not good!
  • As I mentioned, some ProAdvisors gave their free “My Company” account to a client. Converting that to “Your Books” would mean that your client’s information would start showing up in the ProAdvisor’s client list (and there would be other account problems). Not good!

So, Intuit couldn’t automatically convert “My Company” to “Your Books.” They left “My Company” in place. Guess what – if you have that old “My Company” file in your client list, you are getting TWO free QuickBooks Online accounts. Lucky us! I still wouldn’t give that “My Company” file to a client to use, as there are no guarantees that it will continue to be available in the future.

What if I don’t have a “My Company” file because I signed up recently, but I want to do some testing with QuickBooks Online?

  • You can always create a new QuickBooks Online trial account. You have 30 days before that expires. I’ll do that sometimes, if I want to start a company from scratch to try a particular setup, or test the import from QuickBooks desktop. I create test accounts using different email addresses that I can create, and “invite” myself to be the accountant user. This takes a bit of work to set up, and later I will get these annoying messages from Intuit about my trial running out and so forth.
  • You can use the QuickBooks Online Test Drive, which gives you access to a pre-populated QuickBooks Online company file. This is very useful because it is easy to set up and you already have some test data there to try. However, by using this approach you don’t get the “Accountants Tools” to work with, so there are some limitations.
  • Here’s another option that I overlooked until the folks at Intuit pointed it out to me – in the “gear” icon menu you will find a Sample Company link. This is similar to the Test Drive, with some pre-populated data, but you have access to the Accountant Tools in this company. This is usually the best option to work with for training and testing.

One last point in this discussion: I clicked on “My Company” in the client list and edited the client name to be something different, like “Test Company,” so that I wasn’t as confused by the name. That helps!

About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.

18 Comments

  • Unfortunately for me, I was using My Company for my books and then when they migrated me to the new new QBOA, it screwed up my Method CRM account, so not only did I have to migrate my data from My Company to My Books, I had to create a new Method CRM account. You’re right, Intuit should have made this clear that this would happen ahead of time, especially since I was probably one of the last ones converted and I could have prepared for it.

    • Sorry to hear that, Brett. As you know, I spend a lot of time watching Intuit and their communications with ProAdvisors. I will admit, sometimes a message goes by and I don’t realize the full impact at that time. But, I really don’t recall seeing anything about these kinds of issues. That is why I “ranted” originally. I learned a lot since that rant (as I outline in this article), a lot of that is information that all ProAdvisors should have been told about, I think.

  • Excellent and much needed discussion. This cleared up many of my questions and issues. Thanks for writing such an in-depth article.

  • Thank you. I received a phone call and email from Intuit after commenting about my problems on your “rant” article. Kudos to their customer service for following up. Do you know, if we’ve been using “My Company” for our own books, is there a way to transfer that information to “Your Books” in case they phase out the My Company?

    • Christie, there isn’t a way for you to easily do that transfer. My expectation is that IF Intuit decides to drop the free “My Company” file then they will see if you want to migrate your information over. I can’t promise that, but in my discussions with them it was clear that they were aware of the potential issues here and they were interested in avoiding any problems with their ProAdvisor members.

  • Another thing I don’t quite get is how the request part of QBOA works. I just started using it last week and was a little surprised when I went to send my first request. There is a drop down that has the users of the file in it, so far, so good. But the first time you go to send a request, you pick the person but then have to fill in their email address even though it is already in the User setup.
    I also don’t understand why every client I have is in the Clients list. Shouldn’t this list only show me QBO clients?

    • Terri, I’m not seeing that. I have a test account set up (QBO Plus in this case) and I have two users. I can send a request, and it uses the “user” email address. The only time that I see it ask me for the user email address is if I have a client in my client list that doesn’t have an email address set up. And, in that case, these are old clients that were in the system prior to the “new” QBOA.

      If you have had this client around for awhile, you may have run into an issue with the switching to the “new” QBOA? I’m just guessing. Something that you may have to look into with ProAdvisor support. But, there are so many variations of “users” and clients and such, I can’t say that I’ve tried the same scenario that you have.

      • Once you have sent them an email once by filling in their email address, it does fill it in but I just tried it on a client that I have never sent a request to and it doesn’t fill the email address. These are new QBO accounts that were set up in the 4th quarter.
        I was moved to QBOA last summer and all of these accounts only invited me last week.
        Just played around with it a little more and here is what is really weird. On some of my QBO accounts, it works the way you say it should but on others when I get to the send request screen is has a field for email address (which I don’t see in the others) and no matter who I pick from the drop down, the email address field remains blank. I don’t get it.

        • I’m not seeing that in my particular account, but every QBOA account has its differences. It always seems to be working for me. I suggest that you contact ProAdvisor support to see if they can take a look.

  • Charlie – After reading your rant, this article and the comments, I continue to be so happy that we never migrated to QBO. Long live QuickBooks Desktop! With over 135 clients for whom we are doing year end file reviews, dealing with this type of confusion at the end of the year would be mind-blowing. Thanks for all the help you provide to ProAdvisors!

  • Charlie,
    Another issue I am finding is several of my customers(3) accounts only show up in the intial open window to select a company I want to open,and show up in client list and under the gear icon under switch company. These (3) do not show up with the QB icon status in clients or the go to client’s Quickbooks. Vice versa my clients that show up under got to clients QuickBooks, don’t show up where the (3) above other clients show up.

    To add another twist when I go to my ProAdvisor link it shows I only have 2 clients in QBO when I have 6. Somewhere in this mess QBO has an issues talking to itself and the ProAdvisor site as well.

  • I have 2 Intuit ProAdvisor accounts, one for my QuickBooks accounts and one for Tax Online (Intuit set up these 2 separate accounts years ago, not me). When I login to my QBOA account both of them show up but the QB accounts has “QB Accountant” on the end. I select this account and then open a clients QBO account.
    If I try to change clients the drop down list shows the clients on my other account (tied to my Tax Online). Also, if I go to Accountant it brings me back to the second account and I have to “Switch Company” before I can get back to the first QB Accountant account.
    This orginally was only happening occasionally but now it happens every time. I have talked to Intuit about this and they were not able to tell me why this was happening and were not able to fix it.
    I would like for them to combine the 2 accounts so that I can see everything in one place but so far they also have not been able to do that either.
    Does anyone else have this problem? It sounds like it is similar to some of the other problems Charlie was talking about.

  • Charlie,

    I think we should all thank you for your prior rant, as it helped to provide clarity to a very confusing situation. Your notoriety within the accounting industry and especially as an Intuit expert made the company listen and finally provide some answers to the exact same questions I had also been asking. In traditional Intuit fashion, I added another “P.E.” number to my “You’re the first person to tell us about this issue” list of wasted calls for technical help.

    The dreaded Product Escalation (code for: I need to get off the phone now so I can send you a Quality Assurance Survey) happens so often, I have considered calling the Guinness Book of World Records to see if I have won a prize. Now at this point, I should explain that I am very comfortable with computers and even though I know they will still make me do it over again, I always try all the troubleshooting tips and tricks on multiple computers before making that call.

    Which brings me to the first of two of my biggest rants that I really hope others will agree with:

    1: Too many names in all the wrong places:

    There is another list of names that you missed in your articles, their IPhone, and IPad apps. Unfortunately, Intuit has not figured out a way to completely hide any canceled accounts from your client list unless you go in and manually hide them. That fix works decently for QuickBooks Online, but if you try using their apps to access your client files you a stuck with a list of every account even the canceled ones for 18 months. I must confess that the existence of the issue was my fault by creating duplicate companies by accident, but you would think that after closing out the file that never held any data, Intuit would provide an options to sign off on immediate deletion. Their app is great, but when your list of clients continues to grow and there are duplicate company names on the same screen that cannot be changed, it becomes really annoying to pick the wrong account over and over again.

    2: Google Chrome & QBO:

    It is no secret that Google Chrome is the Intuit stated preferred browser for QuickBooks Online, so why has QBO become so unstable on Chrome lately with daily “double header” or “redirect loops” that constantly eat up my billable time? If Chrome is the suggested browser, why does QBO only support the Export of QBO data through Internet Explorer?

    Furthermore, why did Intuit institute a new security feature that requires you to authenticate your identity every time you use a different browser, or clear your current browsers cookies and history when that is there answer to every problem? After experiencing this issue many times, I called my local Intuit support line, and after receiving another…… Product Escalation ticket, their advice was to clear out my history every time and authenticate via email or text.

    Charlie, I apologize for jumping on your coat tails, as a sounding board for my QuickBooks Blues, but I felt it was the best opportunity to share my experience with other frustrated accountants. Who knows… maybe Intuit will respond to one of the little guys too. (https://parkway.business)

    To conclude on a positive note, I really do enjoy QuickBooks Online and ironically, their software glitches forced me to discover my own solutions. It was all the wasted time that pushed me into researching IPP and their SDK’s, and ultimately creating my own tool to rebuild a complete year of information within a couple hours instead of days. So I really should say, Thank you Intuit!

    • Thank you, Matthew.

      I haven’t been using the iPad/iPhone apps so that didn’t come up. It is a variation of the same issue – applying the proper filter to the customer list in those situations.

      Chrome, well, I use Chrome almost exclusively, and I haven’t been running into the kinds of issues you talk about. But I’ve heard others complain about this. One of the problems with Chrome, as with many Google products, is that Google keeps on changing how things work. I am glad I’m not writing software that has to work with Chrome.

      The multi-factor authentication security stuff is annoying in some cases but worthwhile. MFA is the way that everyone is heading, as it greatly increases security. It is worthwhile. You are going to see that happening more and more throughout all online apps.

  • I’m a year late to the article, but this just answered so many questions / problems I was having with my own books. I started using QBO last fall, but I have the “old” version because I had a login from several years ago. This article cleared up a huge problem I was having with App connects. Thank you.