Chase Refuses to Fix a Programming Error that Breaks QIF-Formatted Activity Downloads
Stephen Leibowitz

There are several threads on the Internet about the problem with Chase.com credit card activity downloads in the QIF format. I suspect that for every Chase customer who complains on the Internet about it, there are many others, perhaps thousands, that also have the problem.

The credit card activity file I downloaded on Feb. 26, 2017 worked well. My next download was on March 22, and the file was invalid. Each transaction in a QIF file is a record. Every record has the caret ^ character to signify the end of record. One can still select the QIF format as a Chase download option. But the downloaded files are missing the required end of record character. I still download and use QIF files for checking and savings without any problems. They contain the end of record character.

I have discussed this problem several times with Chase. My branch office staff is high quality, and they escalated the issue within the bank. I received more attention than when I initially called the customer service line.

The website technical support people are careful in what they say. They do not acknowledge that an error crept into their programming and that customers are downloading broken activity files. Instead, they want to know what software I am using to process the files. They then say that it is old and they do not support it.

But the thing is Chase supports formats, not financial or spreadsheet software. This worked well for me for twenty years. Chase provided valid activity files: accurate, complete, and conforming to the QIF format standard. I would download the files using a web browser, and then process them. What Chase supported was QIF. They did not know what software I used after downloading the files, although it is reasonable to assume that it supported QIF imports. Chase still provides valid savings and checking files in the QIF format.

Chase website support personnel also say that they do not support QIF and that I should convert to the QFX format. How they can say that when QIF is a download option on the Chase website is beyond me. They come across as not being interested in providing quality customer service. Instead, their objective seems to be to close the issue with minimum effort on the bank’s part. Chase patronizingly tells me that my software and formatting choices are old and they do not support them. In short, they blame the customer, and will not acknowledge their software error, much less fix it.

Let us imagine that Chase decided to stop supporting QIF when they discovered the bug in their software. Chase should at least provide advance notice. Microsoft, for all it faults, provides at least a year and often several years before dropping support for a product. Even if Chase gave only six months notice, it would have at least shown a degree of respect for its customers. Instead, Chase waits until customers call to report that the QIF files they downloaded from the bank’s website are broken. Then Chase informs them of no support. That is shockingly bad customer service. No customer wants to be treated as a puppet, and have to push other matters aside because Chase cannot be bothered to provide advance notice.

It is no hardship for Chase to continue supporting QIF. The programming code is already in place. It appears to be similar to the code for CSV files, which Chase continues to support, but Quicken does not. Many computer programs support dozens of formats, without the vendors claiming that it is a burden. It may depend on the options selected during the setup process, but in my version of Excel, clicking “Save As” reveals a choice of forty output formats. Chase simply needs to put the caret ^ character back in. They might also want to evaluate their customer service.

Many accounting/financial software packages and services support QIF. It has no security problems. There are reasons for a user to prefer QIF to QFX. QFX is Quicken’s variant of the OFX format. When Quicken software imports a QFX file that you have already downloaded, it “phones home” to the Quicken vendor’s servers. Here is a sentence from Wikipedia: “Quicken contains a sunset provision that stops online features and any QFX formatted files from working after a certain amount of time, requiring users to first buy a new Quicken license, and then to learn a new, often different interface from the more recent Quicken version.” Software from other vendors will import QFX files without these objectionable “extra” features. Similarly, other software, but not Quicken, will import OFX files.

The bank could have been forgiven if it corrected the error in the QIF downloads in a timely manner. Instead, it has taken a heavy-handed approach. This tarnishes the sterling reputation that JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor institutions achieved over many years.


I posted the following comment to the forum thread, Can’t import QIF file from Chase Bank to Money Plus:

The “IF” in QIF stands for Interchange Format. It allows a “separation of concerns.” So long as Chase and the customer agree to use the QIF format, the bank does not need to be concerned with what financial software the customer uses. Chase’s only concern would be to provide valid QIF files: accurate, complete, and conforming to the QIF standard. The processing of valid QIF files by financial software is a matter between the vendor of that software and its customers. This is why the answer “we [Chase] do not support MS Money” is irrelevant.

In my opinion, this has the look and feel of a decision by Chase to withdraw support for QIF, initially for credit card accounts. They continue to list it as a download option. But the files are now missing the required ending symbol for each transaction, something customers have been complaining about for at least two months. Fixing the error would be easy for Chase. If stopping QIF support is Chase’s intention, the lack of advance notice and clarity about the matter from Chase is a heavy-handed way to treat its customers. If Chase is truly committed to good customer service, it should simply fix its software and let the customers choose whether to use QIF or another format.


I have developed a method for a user to fix Chase’s broken QIF files. It is not nearly as desirable as Chase fixing their software, but some people may find it useful.

Below is an example. It shows the last line of data in a record (a 25.00 charge). On the left side, it is followed by a valid end of record symbol (the caret ^ character). On the right, we see the Chase error (the caret ^ is missing).

Correct             Chase Error
T-25.00           T-25.00
^                       
(blank line)

Some text editors allow you to work with “regular expressions.” Using regular expressions, the DOS/Windows end-of-line is “\r\n”. The full search string in the broken Chase file is “\r\n\r\n”. The replacement string adds the caret: “\r\n^\r\n”. A regular expressions text editor will allow you with one command to search for and replace all the occurrences of the search string in the broken file.

If you only have a few transactions to fix, using regular expressions is overkill. It would be sensible to manually add the caret to each transaction.


Update

In January 2019, Chase made an unannounced change to their broken version of QIF. In the past, they ended each line with the non-printing sequence: carriage return, followed by line feed. Now they are using just line feed. Some Windows text editors display the new files as a single run-on line with a gibberish character where the end-of-lines should be. Fortunately, most text editors that can process regular expressions can also detect which end-of-line sequence is being used and correctly display the new files as consisting of multiple lines. This means that is still practical in most text editors to visually confirm the changes made by a user to fix Chase’s broken QIF.

The regular expressions to search & replace are different from the previous instructions. The search string in the Chase file is now “\n\n”. The replacement string adds the caret: “\n^\n”. A regular expressions text editor will allow you with one command to search for and replace all the occurrences of the search string in the broken file.

After using search & replace and then saving the QIF file, it is ready to import into Quicken or other software. For each software application, the first time you import a QIF file with Chase’s new end-of-line sequence, closely check that it worked correctly.


© 2019 Stephen Leibowitz