FreshBooks Review

  • 15 comments
  • Updated on:
Date Established
2003
Location
Canada

Overview:

You haven’t heard of humble beginnings until you’ve heard of FreshBooks. One normal, innocuous day in 2004, CEO Mike McDerment was going about his business when he accidentally saved over an invoice and lost all of his work. Frustrated with juggling Word and Excel documents, McDerment decided there must be a better invoicing solution. Together with co-founder Joe Sawada, McDerment created FreshBooks–an invoicing and billing software solution.

For three years, FreshBooks operated out of McDerment’s parents’ basement. For the first 24-month stretch, the company only had 10 customers buying into the software at $9.99/mo for a grand total profit of $99.99/mo for a team of four. But despite the difficult financial situation, McDerment and his team believed in their product.

Today, FreshBooks has over 500,000 users, 200 employees, and operates in 120 countries. The company maintains a professional, yet very fun vibe. It has been featured in Forbes magazine and is the second most used accounting software company in the US (Quickbooks is the first). FreshBooks has also won countless awards for its customer service. This staff lives the words, “We’re more than just a program that they use, we’re people who really care.”

Excellent customer service and a robust feature set, including invoicing, expenses, time tracking, contact management, client portals, expenses, and light inventory, help FreshBooks to stand out from the competition. Extras like snail mail invoicing options, client credit, and over 35 integrations are just icing on the cake. The five scalable plans fit nearly any size business. However, there is one huge drawback about FreshBooks–it’s not actually accounting software.

FreshBooks does not use double-entry accounting (a big no-no), offers limited reports, and has a very poor banking reconciliation capabilities. For companies looking for strong accounting features, FreshBooks might not be the best choice. That said, if you’re looking for strong invoicing and billing features, unique time tracking and client management tools, and some light bookkeeping/accounting functions, FreshBooks is definitely worth considering. The customer service alone makes this software worthwhile.

To decide if FreshBooks is a good fit for you and your business, continue on to read our full article and watch this quick video.

Pricing:

FreshBooks offers a free 30-day trial, no credit card or banking information required. There are five pricing options that fit nearly any business size. Payments are made monthly, and with no contract necessary, you can cancel the service at any time.

  • Sprout: $12.95/mo – All plans include unlimited invoices, expenses, and time tracking. Allows you to bill up to 5 clients.
  • Seedling: $19.95/mo – Allows you to bill up to 20 clients.
  • Evergreen: $29.95/mo ($26.96/mo with a yearly contract) – Allows you to bill up to 200 clients.
  • Mighty Oak: $39.95/mo ($35.96/mo with a yearly contract) – Allows you to bill an unlimited amount of clients. Adds one additional staff member and team timesheets.
  • Redwood: Call for Pricing – The Redwood plan is for bigger businesses and enterprises that send a large amount of invoices, work in teams, and bring in about $10k in online payments every month. Look here for more information about what this plan includes.

FreshBooks’ referral program gives users one free month of service (up to $39.95) if the friend they recommend upgrades to a paid plan.

Note: The Sprout, Seedling, and Evergreen plans only support one user. Additional users cost an extra $10/mo each. There are user permission options for these additional users; however, each user must sign in with the same login (a feature that could stand to be improved).

Web-Hosted or Locally Installed:

Web-Hosted. No downloads or installation required.

Hardware or Software Requirements:

As a cloud-based software, FreshBooks can be accessed anywhere at any time (so long as you have internet access). FreshBooks also has an app for iPhones/iPads (iOS 8+) and Androids (4.2+).

Specific Size of Business:

FreshBooks is one of the most scalable software providers I have seen. With five different pricing options, FreshBooks is a good fit for any business from freelancers and micro businesses to large enterprises. If you want a software that grows with you, FreshBooks is a great choice. The only thing to keep in mind is that the cost of additional users can add up quickly.

Accounting Method:

Both accrual and cash basis accounting.

Ease of Use:

Overall, FreshBooks is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. The UI is visually appealing and customizable. You can add your own logo in place of the FreshBooks’ one, and you can customize the colors to your taste as well.

  • Setup – Setting up your FreshBooks account is easy and doesn’t take too long either. Each account receives a unique login URL. Once you’ve opened your account, there are a lot of preferences to fill in, but they’re all pretty self-explanatory. You begin by adding your company’s information and setting up payment gateways. (If you are unsure which payment gateway you want to use, read this article.) You can then add clients manually or by importing a client list from a .csv file. One of the coolest preferences is found under emails. Here you can customize templates with specific messages for different types of emails including payment reminders, recurring invoices, welcoming new clients or staff members, and more. I recommend signing up for the free webinar, which completely walks you through the setup process. The webinar takes about an hour, and I found it worth the time. It shows you some preferences and tips you might not find on your own. However, by spending some time in settings you can easily hop in right away and set up everything yourself.
  • Organization – For the most part, FreshBooks is well-organized with tabs marking Home, People, Invoices, Estimates, Expenses, Time Tracking, Reports, and More. Almost everything is where you would expect it to be, though occasionally I had to search for a certain preference or feature.
  • Instructions and Guidance – If you can’t find something you need or can’t figure out how a feature works, have no fear, FreshBooks is here. The first time you open a tab (like Invoicing, for example) FreshBooks provides a quick video explaining the feature in detail. In addition to the free webinar mentioned above, there is a getting started video you can access at any time. FreshBooks also offers incredible support, so you can just give their customer service team a call and you’ll go right through to a kind and helpful representative.
  • Problems – There is very little to complain about in terms of the interface design, other than a few minor annoyances. However, there are a few key features missing for a cloud-based accounting software.
    • Lacking Features –FreshBooks claims to be an accounting software, but does not offer typical accounting capabilities like accounts payable. It also does not use double-entry accounting, which could be a big drawback for some businesses looking for true accounting.
    • Invoice Designs Limited – While the invoicing feature is well developed and offers some incredibly unique features, I was disappointed by the lack of customizability. You can customize much of the written content on an invoice, but there are only two invoice designs. Furthermore, the only design choice you can control is the option to add a personalized logo.
    • Could Be Streamlined – Though generally intuitive, there are times when a feature wasn’t where I expected it to be. For example, when creating an estimate or invoice, you can’t add a new sales tax from that window. Instead of having an “add new” option on the invoicing window, you have to go all the way into settings to create a new sales tax.

Features:

FreshBooks covers most basic invoicing and billing features, but takes these basic features to a new level by adding unique features like customer reviews and snail mail invoice options. There are so many personalized touches that set FreshBooks apart I could never cover them all, so for a full list of FreshBooks’ features go here.

  • Dashboard – The home screen displays well-organized, and appealing charts and gives you a quick view of your business’s activity and financial health. These charts include: invoices and expenses, outstanding invoices, active projects, recent activities, and reports. As I mentioned earlier in the review, at the top of the screen there are multiple tabs (Home, People, Invoices, Estimates, Expenses, Time Tracking, Reports, and More) for quick navigation of the interface. Each tab has secondary tabs below when clicked on. There are also settings and help buttons on top for quick access to the FreshBooks Help Center.

FreshBooks - dashboard

(The Getting Started box disappears after the 30-day trial is up.)

  • Invoicing – FreshBooks offers two invoicing templates. Each invoice can be customized with notes to clients, discounts, taxes, etc. You can set recurring invoices and a default Terms and Conditions message. FreshBooks tracks when invoices are received and read. Invoices can be sent by email or snail mail—though the mail delivery time is the farthest thing from snail-like. When you choose the snail mail option, your invoice is sent to a FreshBooks facility that takes care of absolutely everything – and I mean everything – for you. Printing, packaging, mailing, done. Each invoice is delivered first class within one business day and includes a return envelope. All you have to do is pay for the stamps (see stamp pricing here).
  • Estimates – Estimates are easy to create and turn into invoices. You can customize estimates with a separate Terms and Conditions default. There is no snail mail option for estimates.
  • Client Portal – FreshBooks has one of the best client portals I’ve seen. It’s simple and appealing. Clients can view their current invoices, estimates, and projects, as well as their past history. They can request changes and make payments directly from the Client Portal. There is also an auto-billing feature they can enable.

FreshBooks - invoice

  • Customer Review – One of the most unique features in FreshBooks is the option to request reviews from your customers after completing business with them.
  • Contacts Management – You can manage a detailed client list from FreshBooks. This features basic client information and internal, personal notes that the client can’t see. You can also add multiple contact names per business, which seems so valuable and natural I wonder why more software companies don’t offer this function.
  • Time Tracking – This is where FreshBooks shines. FreshBooks is ahead of most of its competitors in terms of time tracking. Time tracking is available on every plan (unlike with most software companies, which make you pay extra for this feature). You and your employees can enter time manually or with the built-in timer and apply them to any task or project. You also have the option to allow your clients to view the hours you’ve logged on a project. Timesheets can be generated into invoices easily.

FreshBooks - timesheet

  • Payments – FreshBooks tracks online payments, but you can also add cash payments manually. FreshBooks offers the unique option of adding a credit to a client; just select a client name, add a new item called “Pre-Payment,” and apply the item to a future invoice when ready.
  • Expenses – FreshBooks allows you to use live bank feeds, import bank files via .csv, or enter expenses manually. The latter option is a little annoying because the price shown does not include the taxes you pay, which can be very misleading. You can look at the tax summary report to see your total taxes, but this seems like a lot of time wasted. You can also use mobile apps to take pictures of your expense receipts for quick importing on the go, and any of these expenses may be assigned to specific clients.
  • Reports – FreshBooks offers 24 reports total, including your typical profit and loss statement, balance sheet (you’ll have to manually enter many of the fields), and tax summary, though some businesses may want more year-end tax reports and traditional accounting reports like accounts payable. Some of FreshBooks’ most notable reports include timesheets, customer reviews, and a quarterly report card. All reports can be exported to a .cvs or .xls file or shared with an accountant. In addition, you can choose to receive a weekly overview report via email.
  • Inventory – FreshBooks offers a light inventory option located under Invoices > Items > Add New. Just check the track inventory option when you are adding the item’s information and it will keep track of your inventory. This feature is pretty limited compared to most cloud-based accounting competitors as there is no way to track inventory value or set low inventory alerts, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Sales Tax – FreshBooks allows for extensive default tax settings. You can add as many sales tax options as you need and can apply different sales taxes within the same invoice if necessary.
  • Multi-Currency – FreshBooks supports multiple currencies and multiple languages. If you change the language for a client, your own screen will remain in English. Only their side will be affected by the change.
  • Open API – FreshBooks has open API for developers.
  • Other Resources – The actual Freshbooks website features a free Business Name Generator tool, a free invoice creator, and a free customizable and downloadable invoice template.

Customer Service and Support:

There’s a reason FreshBooks has been cited many times for award winning customer service. One person said: “No matter the issue, big or small, the FreshBooks Support Team is your own tiny army of helpful humans just waiting to make your day easier”—and it’s true.

FreshBooks support is by far the best I have seen. All of my test calls went straight through to a real person and I was never put on hold (if we’re being honest, I called their support more times than necessary just because I was so pleased by it). Emails receive quick, informative responses. And since FreshBooks is such a large company, it offers many other resources to its customers. These resources include:

  • Phone – FreshBooks phone support operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm EDT. US and Canadian users can call toll free at 1-866-303-6061. For worldwide support call +1-416-481-6946.
  • Email – Contact support@freshbooks.com. When you sign up, you also receive an email from a personalized customer coach with whom you can set up a free orientation.
  • Contact Form – FreshBooks has an online contact form here.
  • Webinar – My favorite support option is the free introductory webinar FreshBooks offers. Sign up here to learn about the software—and if you’re lucky, you just might hear some awesome Batman jokes.
  • Help Center – The Help Center features lots of how-to articles when you need them. The sheer amount of articles can be a bit overwhelming, but the articles are categorized and there’s a search bar to make your life a little easier. Although, when I had questions I turned to the phone support and YouTube video demonstrations first.
  • Blog – Much like the help center, the FreshBooks’ blog has a bunch of articles, which offer business advice and introducing product updates.
  • YouTubeFreshbooks’ YouTube channel features how-to videos, set-up demonstrations, advice for small businesses, and customer testimonials. I found the how-to videos particularly helpful.
  • Social Media – FreshBooks keeps an active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Their Facebook and Twitter accounts mostly point to new blog posts and updates. Instagram features motivation quotes, customer stories, and contests, while Pinterest has interesting boards on how to save on taxes, set up a productive workspace, and host cool company parties.
  • In-Software Support – There is a help tab accessible from inside the software itself.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

For the most part, FreshBooks receives positive reviews across the board, although there are a few complaints that stand out:

  • Not Accounting Software – Despite the name, FreshBooks simply is not “cloud accounting” software. One customer said, “the ‘books’ part of the name ‘FreshBooks’ led me to believe it would work on my entire book. That’s weird to me that it doesn’t.” FreshBooks does not use double-entry accounting, managing your bills is limited, and bank reconciliation is below par compared to other software (you can only import expenses and while there are live feeds, these “live feeds” only get updated once a day and deposits are not recognized). FreshBooks also does not have important accounting reports like accounts payable, general ledger, or balance sheet (there is a balance sheet report in FreshBooks but you have to fill in the majority of the fields yourself). For some smaller companies this may not be an issue, but for customers looking for true accounting software, this could be a huge drawback–especially because without double-entry accounting and the ability to reconcile income as well as expenses, there is no way to get a real look at your total financial state. A few customers just want FreshBooks to be called what is truly is, an invoicing or billing software.
  • No Integration With Quickbooks Online – A few customers complained about the lack of integration with Quickbooks online.
  • Lack of Feature Updates – Some customers feel that FreshBooks has stalled on updates lately and that their suggestions are not being listened to. Some of these suggestions include: a better inventory feature, a mileage tracker, more accounting reports, more invoicing templates, separate shipping and billing addresses, and the option to send estimates via snail mail.
  • No Forever Free Plan – A few customers complained about the pricing of FreshBooks, particularly that their forever free plan apparently wasn’t forever as it is no longer offered. However, FreshBooks pricing has dropped lately. The Mighty Oak plan is $40 cheaper a month than the last time we reviewed this software.
  • Limited Users – Some customers would like to see more users supported per account (without the extra $10/mo charge per extra user). They also want to be able to set stronger user permissions.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Overall, customers seem to really love the FreshBooks product. FreshBooks has an A+ rating on BBB and receives 4.7/5 stars on GetApp. In addition, the mobile apps are highly functioning with the iPhone app awarded 4.5/5 stars and the Android app 4.2/5 stars. Customer testimonials can be found on the FreshBooks site or on their YouTube channel, in addition to review sites on the web.

Some of the features customers love most are:

  • Saves Time – This is one of the most common praises. Users like that FreshBooks is simple to use and saves them time on expenses tracking, invoicing, and billing.
  • Intuitive Interface – Many users find FreshBooks easy to learn, and they enjoy the effective and appealing organization of the software.
  • Amazing Customer Service – FreshBooks customer service is highly praised by users, who appreciate that they can talk to the friendly phone support staff after only one or two rings.
  • Strong Mobile App – Despite a few reported glitches, most users find the mobile apps convenient and well-designed. While not capable of all desktop functions, FreshBooks seems to have one of the most developed mobile apps in the cloud accounting world.
  • Advanced Time Tracking Feature – The time tracking featured is well-loved and much used by FreshBooks subscribers. Users particularly comment on the built-in timer feature.
  • Company’s Values – One customer encouraged others to research more about FreshBooks because they are such a cool company with an amazing story–and I agree. How many companies do you know who partner with a nonprofit like Girls Learning Code and turn their whole office space into a camp for a week? Or whose CEO’s office is made of clear walls so his work and his cute dog are always visible? Watch this video to learn more about girls learning code, or read this article to hear about Freshbooks’ values and office vibes.

Here’s what a few customers are saying:

“FreshBooks is hands down the simplest and easiest to use billing software for freelancers and small businesses of any size. The part I like the most is their outstanding customer support.” – Gabe Arnold, Software Developer

“The biggest benefit to me about FreshBooks is the transparency it offers my clients. My clients can see when I’ve logged into FreshBooks and I’ve done work for them. I do believe that FreshBooks has helped my business grow in the simple fact that it gives us a more professional look to our business versus me just typing out an invoice and mailing that to my client. I could not imagine doing what we do today without FreshBooks.” – Nnena, Venture Gain Legal

“I don’t spend hours doing accounting stuff when I’m not an accountant. I can give my clients what they need and work with them on their projects instead of stressing over expenses and invoicing.” – Marina, Web Designer

Integrations and Add-Ons:

FreshBooks integrates with five payment gateways and 35 add-ons. Some of the most notable include:

  • Stripe – Process and accept credit card payments. Read our full review here.
  • Gusto – Full payroll software with US tax and benefit capabilities.
  • CapsuleCRM software. Read our full review here.
  • HubSpotMarketing platform for increasing web visitors and customer leads.
  • Shopify E-commerce platform for online stores. Read our full review here.
  • Zapier – Connects FreshBooks to over 500 other apps and add-ons.

Security:

FreshBooks security using 256-bit SSL encryption as well as Cisco-powered firewalls. Data is backed up on two servers in two separate (undisclosed) locations, and is also backed up nightly onto a physical tape. FreshBooks has intrusion detection and vulnerability test programs that run frequently.

In addition to cloud-based security measures, FreshBooks servers are housed in Rackspace’s data centers. To learn more about FreshBooks’ security and their partnership with Rackspace, go here.

Final Verdict:

FreshBooks has an impressive number of features, and I am particularly intrigued by how each feature offers something unique, especially in a software environment where every company can start to look the same. FreshBooks has highly customizable email settings, snail mail capabilities, strong time tracking features, customer review requests, a powerful mobile app and a client portal.

These features can fit the needs of nearly any sized business. The plans are incredibly scalable and since dropping their prices and adding more integrations, FreshBooks has become an even more compelling invoicing and billing option.That said, I am hesitant to tout it as a viable accounting option.

Despite their logo, FreshBooks has fallen behind on the “cloud accounting” half of its title. There’s a reason I didn’t include bank reconciliation in the features section–there isn’t a bank reconciliation feature, at least not one that can compare to what you find in other software. Without a proper reconciliation feature and the ability to perform double-entry accounting, FreshBooks fails to balance the books.

While this may be a huge drawback for some companies, FreshBooks still has an impressive number of features with unique capabilities. The customer service is unbeatable and the mobile apps are far above those of the competition. To see if FreshBooks is a good choice for your company, try out their free 30-day trial and let us know what you think.

Chelsea Gritten

Chelsea Gritten

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer
Chelsea Gritten is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she's not working or daydreaming about visiting England, she can be found creating new stories, drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files.
Chelsea Gritten

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15 Comments

    Majid

    On Nov 16 I did instal FreshBooks and did download all information from that time .Since about 20 days that passed already , I did try to refresh my page but the bank informations is still from Nov 16 ! I tried couple times to countact the FreshBooks customer service and everybody just puted note To follow up this problem but I have this issue!!

    1
    Todd

    I've been a long time Freshbooks customer. Overall, it's been a good experience. Freshbook support has been excellent, the product itself has been easy to use and reliable. I have no regrets.That said here are my biggest critiques:Expenses - It's easy to miss but % discounts put on an invoice apply to EVERYTHING including expenses that have receipts. This makes no sense and was obviously an oversight on their part. It will make your accountant furious to deal with expenses with receipts that were only partially reimbursed. The Expense feature has been out a long while, this should have been fixed by now, but last I checked it still wasn't. It cost me a significant amount of reimbursements before I caught the design flaw. The workaround is to always put expenses into an invoice that doesn't have a discount applied to it. So if you routinely discount a customer's invoice, then you'll have to make a separate invoice for Expenses reimbursements. Not elegant but it works.No longer has a public forum -- Freshbooks used to have a public forum, but somewhere along the way it disappeared. I immediately lose a degree of trust for any software service company that doesn't have a public forum. To me it means they're the bad kind of control freak, and more importantly it means I will have a difficult time finding out if other users are having problems or what pitfalls to watch out for. I get there's an overhead and PR risk to having a public forum but trust doesn't come for free...No weekend or night time support -- Work doesn't always happen during the 9-5. Invoicing means getting paid...staying in business. It's time sensitive. On the otherhand it would cost Freshbooks more to have off hours support, so we customers would have to pay more. Do I want to pay more? Maybe a compromise is possible here: What about an option to purchase add-on weekend support?Wepay partnership -- Freshbooks partnering with WePay to start doing their own credit card processing is worrisome to me. WePay rates seem to be slightly lower than the equivalent Paypal service, but those lower rates come at the cost of some important features. In my experience WePay is slooow to post money back to my bank. They also have no option for a debit card. With Paypal money is in my (Paypal) account and available for me to use via debit card the same day, even on weekends. With WePay you have to wait until it posts to your bank account, which takes 2 - 5 business day. That means you often won't see the money for a full week. With local customers picking up and manually depositing a check often posts to my bank faster than WePay. This feels like a big step back techwise. But my real worry here is that by monetizing off their credit card processing partnership with WePay, Freshbooks is going to be incentivized to limit or drop their Paypal payment gateway integration. If that happens I'll unsubscribe the same month. Rumor from another review here states that Freshbooks already plans to drop the Paypal Business integration later this month. (Paypal Business integration is a low flat rate fee for transactions through Paypal that don't use credit cards.)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Regarding the critic that Freshbooks is not real full fledged accounting software: It's a mistake to see this as a Con. Whether this is a Pro or Con really depends on your use case. Pros:Simpler more efficient at invoicing, not needing costly user licenses for full fledged accounting software for users who only need invoicing, automatically creates a some separate from accounting or booking features that you might not want certain staff to access.Cons: You'll need another solution for your accounting needs. You'll need to integrate or feed Freshbooks into your accounting solution.Freshbooks seems to be on a slow path towards becoming a full fledged accounting platform. They already have ton more accounting features than when I first started using them. This means smaller businesses or consultants might now be able to get away with just Freshbooks and not use a full fledged accounting solution. But overall I feel like this in between space is undesirable and a mistake. Accounting feature creep has reduced some of the elegance of the invoicing features, but the lack of full fledged account features means you'll likely still want accounting software. Essentially, I see this middle ground as the worst of both worlds.

    4

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Todd,

    Thanks for your detailed and insightful review! I wasn’t aware of the expense reimbursement problem–and that’s a significant issue, one we’ll want to keep an eye on in our next review update. Your insights on WePay are also likely to be helpful to prospective users, so thanks for taking the time to write all of that up! I agree with you that invoicing software serves a different purpose than accounting software, and FreshBooks is well-suited to some businesses looking for the former. (My objection on that count is that FreshBooks advertises itself as accounting software, and as a result, I’ve heard complaints from a number of people who assumed it was full accounting software when they signed up.)

    As cloud-based accounting solutions continue to expand their invoicing features (along the lines of what Zoho Books and FreeAgent have done), I think we’re likely to see more companies opting for a combined invoicing and accounting solution. Most good accounting software allows for invoice-only access permissions, and the user license issue you raise is becoming less of an issue with the emergence of plans that offer unlimited user licenses with a single subscription (Xero and Zoho Pro, for instance). For that matter, even QuickBooks Online offers more users at a lower rate than FreshBooks.

    FreshBooks could definitely become an important player in that space–if they can expand to cover full accounting. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    Best,
    Katherine

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Thomas Black

    Freshbooks decision to drop Paypal pro payment gateway as of July 31 2016 has me looking for another invoicing system.

    1

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Andrew Chang

    I like accwing online invoicing. it have different invoice field, multiple payment, statement individually or in batches. and 60 days free try.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Chris

    I am so thankful to have found this company. I tried it free for 20 days and found it was perfect for my small business. All I needed was to create invoices and input my expenses. That's it. Customer service responded to my questions very quickly and helped me with the sprout sign-up procedure for $9.95/month. Well worth every penny.

    5

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Excellent! I’m glad it’s working out so well for you.

    Katherine

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Steve S.

    A LENGTHY REVIEW FROM A DAILY FRESHBOOKS USER:

    I’ve been using Freshbooks for the last couple of years, and at first it was a breath of fresh air after getting away from Quickbooks (both online and desktop version prior to that). If you don’t have a proficiency for accounting, systems like Freshbooks are great, so I enjoyed the simplicity of it. The problem is – it’s just way too simple and there are some major gaps in functionality. Additionally, it’s a stagnant system. Very little improvements or features were tweaked or added in the system during the entire time I used it which is pretty unsual for a web based service.

    Freshbooks shouldn’t even call themselves accounting, because their forte really is in time tracking and invoicing. I now use Freeagent and wish I’d switched sooner.

    If you don’t care about tracking profit margins on projects or really tracking expenses accurately at all, then Freshbooks might work for you.

    Freshbooks gets plenty right. Tracking billable time against customers or customer projects is a breeze, and their invoicing and methods for collecting payments is really hard to beat. Plus, they integrate with so many other services, it makes it really easy to get addicted to.

    The things I love most – and the main reasons I’m glad that I left Quickbooks for Freshbooks years ago is:

    Automated invoice reminders, which are totally flexible. This alone saved me a lot of time chasing down late payers.

    Your customers get a really nice interface for viewing all their invoices online – although I will say I think I only have one or two clients who ever even used the client portal for doing that. Most of them just go to their email to retrieve the links for invoices or statements, but it is still a really nice feature.

    No connections to your banking / credit card accounts. You can do this with expenses to some extent, but it’s just awful to work with, when compared to Quickbooks, Xero, FreeAgent – pretty much anyone else. In order to use Freshbooks, you have to have some other software or service for managing the accounting aspects of your business. This ended up being a bad thing for me. I like having it all connected, and there are plenty of great alternatives for that, and some even charge less than Freshbooks.

    My reasons for leaving Freshbooks? Freshbooks is downright awful at expenses…

    You can’t record non-billable expenses against a customer or project. If you want to record the expense without billing the customer for it, you cannot assign it to the customer or project. No easy way around that without messing up your accounting records.

    And with expenses that you DO want to rebill the customer for, there’s no easy, intuitive way to handle marking up those expenses for goods or services to make a profit on. In order to do that, you must first add the expenses to the customer invoice, and then modify each line item expense amount up to the amount you want the customer to pay.

    You cannot record bills as you receive them your vendors. Say for example, you get an invoice from a programmer who did work for you on 4 different projects in a given time period. Most vendors will just send you an itemized invoice with all the billable time across the various projects. Well, you can’t record it that way in Freshbooks. Each line item on your bill must be entered into freshbooks one line item at a time, and you cannot correlate them easily to know that they are all part of one bill/invoice. Freshbooks also can’t help you with managing when your bills are due. That’s accounting, which Freshbooks doesn’t do.

    Freshbooks solutions to their shortcomings with expenses is all handled with hacks and workarounds for how their system is currently built. They are not easy or intuitive and they also throw things off with your accounting reports.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your review. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with my major gripe with Freshbooks: It’s not accounting software. Why the company has chosen to market itself that way is beyond me. Freshbooks is excellent invoicing software, for many of the reasons you mentioned. But as for accounting . . . the software simply doesn’t support it, at least not yet.

    Glad to hear that FreeAgent is working out for you so far!

    Best,
    Katherine

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Tommy

    Here is answer from FreshBooks:
    —-
    Sorry about the confusion on this! We actually run price tests all the time and in this case, that review is referring to one. That said, I’ve moved your account over to the test group so you should be able to see it now.
    —-
    So it looks like they could have different pricing pages. Since they applied the change to my account, now I can see the Sprout plan on the “upgrade” page of my account (using Safari on Mac – yesterday the first upgrade plan available was Seedling at $19.95). When I access the public pricing plans page, I still see the Free plan and the first plan starts at $19.95. I tried with Firefox, and yesterday I was able to see the Sprout plan but today there is no more Sprout plan even when I clear my cache. There is no more Free plan with Firefox, but there is a Free plan with Safari. Anyway… if someone is confused, the best thing will be to contact FreshBooks. They answer very quickly.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Thanks for posting this info, Tommy! That’s very good to know.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Tommy

    Hi Katherine,

    Thanks for the quick follow-up. I tested the link with Firefox (Mac) and I was able to see the same page (with Sprout plan for $9.95 – no free plan). With Safari, even when I cleared the cache, I was unable to see the page with the Sprout plan. There was a free plan, and other plans starting at $19.95/month. With Chrome (Mac), there was no free plan anymore (except for 30 days), and no Sprout plan. Even with a complete clear of the cache, impossible to see this plan. Plans started at $19.95. So, three different browsers, three different results. I wrote to FreshBooks to ask for the real information and to let them know that their pricing pages were displayed with random content and different information.

    I’ll keep you updated…

    Tommy

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Interesting. The prices are displaying consistently across all 3 PC browsers I tested (Firefox, Chrome, IE), so perhaps this is a Mac issue. Very odd. I’ll look forward to hearing what you find out.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Tommy

    The Sprout plan at $9.95/month doesn’t seem to exist. There is no information about it on the FreshBooks website. Plans starts at $19.95/month (Seedling). That’s a bad thing, as the Sprout plan would have been perfect for my current needs.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Tommy,

    Good news for you! The Sprout Plan does exist. It’s fairly new. Check the FreshBooks pricing page here and click the link on the right side of the screen that says “Pricing Packages start at $9.95/month.” That will pull up a pop-up box with the information. Only reason I can think of that you wouldn’t see it is if you have an old version of the page cached. If you don’t see it when you follow the link above, clear your cache and cookies and try again.

    Let me know if you run into any problems. Also, if you only have 5 clients, you might want to check out Zoho Invoice – they have a free subscription that might be appealing, depending exactly what you need.

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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