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Review: QuickBooks & Intuit Online 401(k)

Published April 28, 2011

One of the many benefits of working at RustyBrick is our company matched 401(k) program.

The way we like do things at RustyBrick is by the most efficient method as possible. It is what we do, we design systems to maximize company efficiencies. So when it comes to even our employee HR stuff, which I personally handle all by myself, we try to make it as efficient and seamless as possible. If not, then I'd have to hire an HR person.

We decided to use a product promoted by our accounting software, QuickBooks, named Intuit 401(k). Truth be told, it is actually run and managed by a third-party company, not at Intuit (makers of QuickBooks) named The Online 401(k). Why did we pick this solution? The sole reason was its ability to integrate fully with QuickBooks. I set it up once and it would automatically handle all the 401(k) distributions and company matches each pay cycle, or so I thought.

This is how we set up QuickBooks for everything else. All our customers, time sheets, billing, invoicing, is all integrated via our systems and the QuickBooks API. It just makes sense to reduce double entry, human error and redundancy by automating this stuff. Again, it is what we know.

So I have been using The Online 401(k) for about 2.5 months now and want to share my experience.

Early Experience With The Online 401(k)

When I signed up, my sales representative told me I could submit my first 401(k) distribution mid-February. To be on the safe side, I submitted it the last week of February. I wait the 3 days, plus additional 2 days required for the distributions to be sent to the employees and nothing happened. So I email the The Online 401(k) support and they eventually tell me that my sales representative did not activate it until the first of March.

So I asked the The Online 401(k) folks to please move that date forward a week and pull the distributions. They told me they cannot do so and I need to call Intuit support to back out the 401(k) distributions from the payroll and then reimburse the employees on the next pay cycle. As you can imagine, this create a tremendous amount of MANUAL work, work I wanted to avoid in the first place. I did it, after tons of hold time and transferred departments at Intui - while The Online 401(k) team shoved me off to Intuit as to not deal with me.

A day after I backed out the transactions, I get an email from a supervisor telling me they can now make an exception and back up my date and pull the distributions. I was extremely upset and pretty much told them off.

I figured that was the end of it. The next two distributions went smoothly. I submitted the normal payroll and the 401(k) distributions followed two days after, as it should.

Then last pay period, I decide to check to make sure the The Online 401(k) has been running smoothly and noticed the past two pay periods they did not remove the distributions! I submit an online support ticket to The Online 401(k), they take a day or so to get back to me telling me, yea, it didn't go through. A day or two after, I get an email from Intuit telling me they will call me to help me. Again, The Online 401(k) dumping me off to Intuit.

The guy from Intuit was actually very helpful. He seemed to have been the guy to write up new documentation for The Online 401(k). I told him my frustration with working with The Online 401(k) who had no clue how QuickBooks worked with their own program. He agreed and told me he is working with them to try to educate their staff. He told me they added some features to make the process smoother. But what he told me next was shocking.

Why didn't the past two distributions go through? Because my default browser on the machine running QuickBooks was not Internet Explorer. For The Online 401(k) to get the payroll submission from QuickBooks, they need the default browser to be Internet Explorer (for "security" reasons). No where did I get that warning, plus it stopped working without me changing the default browser, so this must have been a new requirement. Again, no warning.

That is where I stand now. The helpful Intui representative helped me once again push the payroll data to Intuit, which will then go to The Online 401(k) several days later. He promised the distributions that did not go through, pretty much the two paychecks in April, would be pushed through the first week of May. I'll update this post if that is true.

Overall, the smooth, seamless process has been everything but. I do hope this is the last I worry about the 401(k) I set up. I expect that it work without me doing anything - like the sales rep told me. I set it up once and never worry about it again. So far, it has caused me a ton of headache and wasted too much of my time.

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Barry Schwartz is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. Barry is also the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and the News Editor of Search Engine Land. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search marketing industry. Barry graduated from the City University of New York and lives with his family in the NYC region.

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