Power Investor Complaints And Responses

Over the past several years, I received volumes of complaints about Power Investor software published by Investors Alliance, which I recommended in past editions of my stock book. The complaints were consistent enough and frequent enough for me to pull my recommendation of the software from the 2008 edition of my book.

I wrote articles on Power Investor, and Investors Alliance president Frank Lardino said he would reply to some of the concerns sent by my readers who tried the software.

The following are select reader comments, and Frank’s response or lack thereof.

Garry wrote:

I’ve used Power Investor for more than 10 years, and, as you noted, the service has deteriorated to a non-value. Thanks for using your forum to give a ‘heads up’ on Power Investor. My subscription, which comes due in August, will not be renewed.

I sent numerous e-mails advising of errors in their database. No response. No corrections made. I’ve had as many as 20% errors in their database in stocks I’ve investigated. Errors include — wrong price data, ticker name changes not corrected.

For example, PLB (American Pasta changed names months ago, but not on their database). It changed to AITP.PK (per Yahoo Finance) some time ago. I brought this to PI’s attention some time ago.

BGO (Bema Gold) no longer exists. They have been bought out, don’t remember by who. Did not bring to PI’s attention.

SCHK is still on their Ben Graham screener list. SCHK does not exist, has been changed to SIRO (per Yahoo Finance). In PI, it has been listed as SCHK for months. I brought this one to PI’s attention some time ago as well.

I have telephoned, and usually someone answers. State problems. Advised to send e-mail. Do so. Absolutely NO response to many e-mails. (Just for the heck of it, check out Investor’s Alliance using their Ben Graham screener. For months had a stock that, apparently, is no longer traded or has a symbol change.)

I’ve spoken to Frank on the telephone, and he seems like a nice person. Really sorry to see them sink to present state.

Frank replied:

We specifically tell members that we cannot send name changes, ticker changes and purging of dead companies via electronic updates. This is why we have the CD ROM updates for an extra charge. This man paid $99 for a single ROM update and this is why he is not getting the updates. In some cases we also do not pick up stocks when they go to .pk or pink sheets.

Garry followed up with:

I have no problem not being informed that tickers have changed, or not being notified of new company tickers that have been added to the market.

I have a problem using a faulty database. If a ticker no longer exists, it should be deleted from the database, not treated as though currently active. When I update the database daily, I assume the information is correct. This has not been the case in many instances.

I’ve forwarded errors I’ve found to PI, but the information has been ignored.

In summary, a database that contains tickers that no longer exist, and recommends tickers of companies that no longer exist, is of little value to me. In the past I’ve used PI extensively in making stock-purchase decisions, but lately the info provided has so many errors it has become a waste of time to use PI.

I hope that PI is able to solve these problems.

Frank replied:

As I stated in my email and as we tell members — this is why we offer quarterly and monthly PI ROM updates. We do not ignore emails with name or ticker changes or any emails. We also cannot do seven-digit pink sheet tickers and we also do not advertise that we cover pink sheet stocks.

Regarding PLB, which became AITP.PK, we have made the change but our master database cannot accept seven-digit tickers. The period is needed. PK is pink sheets.

Regarding BGO, it died on 2-27-2007. We cannot electronically send delistings of stocks.

Regarding SCHK, We changed it in the master database, but cannot send name and ticker changes electronically.

Charles wrote:

I was a PI member years ago, when I first read your book. It was good then, and I used it on a regular basis for screening and tracking stocks. Too bad I can’t say the same today.

I recently tried to sign up again, and even though it looked as if I had via the website, I was unable to confirm that I was charged for the membership. I never received any confirmation email from IA, nor did I see any charges on my credit card.

I made numerous attempts to contact IA to get the information I needed. While the calls I made were answered quickly, I was given the same response each time. “We will have someone call you back, can you give us a contact number” — after hearing that three times and sending several emails, I finally got a bit upset with the person on the phone. I was told that Frank was handling all the new accounts and that he wouldn’t be in till later, but they would have him call me. Needless to say, that call never came. I made one more attempt to call them, and even asked to speak with Frank, but of course he was unavailable, but if I left my number, he would call me back.

I didn’t bother leaving my number, didn’t bother saying goodbye, I just hung up the phone. That happened just before I contacted you last month about this issue. I think I would have to say that even IF they say they are better, I expect a hell of a lot better service from a company from which I have purchased a product. I would rather use the free on line tools, that put up with lousy customer service.

So, thanks for your advice on the free on-line screening programs, and keep up the good work. No matter what IA says, I say stay away. I know I will.

Frank replied:

He works for a company that provides fundamental financial data. He would call from his company and then tell us to call his cell phone. Our source of the data is the 10-Ks and annual reports. We wonder why he is reluctant to disclose his identity and possibly his employer’s identity.

Declan wrote:

I finished reading your little guide to investing a month ago. It truly was an excellent book well done. After reading it I looked in to some stock picking software packages but some were extremely expensive. In the end I opted for Power investor. I would have to agree with your new view that the service is poor. To date I have not received the CD or book I ordered, but being Irish living in Australia I am allowing a few weeks for delivery. I emailed power investor support who advised me it is being shipped. Fingers crossed…hopefully.

Frank sent the materials via Global Priority Mail, and followed up with numerous emails until Declan finally replied, “I have been working away at a mine site for the last fortnight and have only now accessed my emails on my return to Perth. I am happy to say that the Power investor pack arrived while I was away.”

Brian wrote:

I signed up for it and don’t like it. It seems Yahoo can do it all and look a lot better while doing it and not require daily downloads. My complaints came mostly from their welcome booklet which I actually sat down and read. It was packed with incorrect info, including their address and phone number.

Frank did not reply.

Kieu T.H. wrote:

I recently tried to subscribe with Power Investor. I tried to subscribe online but it didn’t go through. So I called many different times and either no one picked up or I would have got the secretary. I talked to the manager (I forgot his name) once and he was on some kind of a rush, he told me that I will need an invitation by mail in order for me to become a member, he wrote down my address and said something else that I c
ouldn’t understand and just hung up on me.

I called back right away but this time i got the secretary and she said he is out for lunch that I needed to call back. I called back several more times and every time she had a different excuses for him. Finally, she told me to call back after 6pm. I asked her what is their operation hour and she said from 8:30 to 6pm so I asked her how could I be able to get in touch with him if i called him after operation hr, the lady told me that he is usually be around after operation hr so just call. Well, I did and no one picked up. So you got the idea!

The point here is not how many time I called or whether if he is busy or not, but I do not appreciate the customer service that Power Investor offers. Frankly, I believe if I’m the customer and I’m paying for the service, I should be able to get what I want at anytime I want. With today technology, I should be able to have instant membership whenever I wanted. Why should I need to even make calls and wait for the membership. What would happen if down the line I have to technical problem or just a quick question about the software? Would I then need to make an appointment or something?

Frank did not reply.

Don wrote:

IA is actually in denial on their services. I believe IA was ahead of the competition in the 1990s, however not in the 2000s. Again IA has some value, however it is limited today since there are more cost effective tools available.

I used IA’s Power Investors (PI) and Power Tech (PT) for a few years. The sad thing is PI wasn’t user friendly for cut and pastes or exporting of data. PT for years never lived up to the hype. PT barely ever worked as advertised and crashed my system (or the application crashed/closed). Most of my emails were ignored. The monthly IA journal decreased from 12 issues per year to ~6-8 per year, however they continued to advertise as if there were 12 issues. The model data results were nearly always outdated on the website. The downloads had problems, however it wasn’t much of a problem for me. The benefit of downloading the data is you get to work offline.

Now, for ~$99 or ~$225 it was worth the experience however today there are so many more tools/sites available like: Zacks, Google, Yahoo, MSN, StockCharts and Worden’s Telechart plus I’m sure many more sites.

In summary, IA had a place, however they lost their luster and edge. The internet toolsets are more readily available and outdo IA. True, their “Triple Test” capability is a little more difficult to create, however I don’t have all the problems of IA anymore.

Frank replied:

He complains that he cannot export the fundamental data. We clearly tell members the data is non-exportable and is a violation of our license agreement. So, Don is complaining that we do not make it easy for him to violate our user license. We regularly get people calling us trying to buy the fundamental data for export. We do not provide that service. The data is our property.

John wrote:

I followed the advice and bought PowerInvestor. I used it about 4 days and then put it on a shelf. I found in slow and really not valuable. Some of the stocks that I held at that time were not covered by the software, and the constant downloads became annoying.

As you stated, there are many free sites that are quite excellent. I trade on Scottrade and they have upgraded their research tools. I consider that “free” since one only needs $500 to open an account and there is no minimum activity [except for Scottrader Elite], and I get real time quotes.

I also subscribe to one or two sites that I find extremely useful for real time analysis.

I believe you are correct to stop recommending PowerInvestor.

Frank did not reply.

Bill wrote:

I used to have Power Investor for years and in fact I belonged to it in the first few years when we even had a Power Investor Conference in Fort Lauderdale which I thoroughly enjoyed (I am sure way over 10 years ago).

Even though the potential was always there (good magazine, software was good), the data was awful — everything, mutual fund data was never corrected for dividends, etc. Stock data was never corrected for splits until many months later, earnings, dividends, cash flows, all the economic numbers, etc. were old data.

The question became: what good is good software and magazine when you cannot depend on the data so I quit after a few years and a couple of years later rejoined thinking that maybe they had straighten out but no dice. I cannot believe their customers put up with data that is no good. I guess I did for some years thinking it can’t go on much longer.

I have not used Power Investor for many years now as I have been using other software which is very reliable and squeaky clean data.

If Investors Alliance ever got good data, I would gladly pay the $99 per year. Please check what you get for $99 because as I remember it used to be only the first CD and you would have to put up with whatever errors might be on the CD unless you purchased another or paid much higher yearly fees for quarterly or monthly CD’s.

As far as support, only email support was available and it was very infrequent the times you would get an answer to any email. The only phone they used to have was strictly for membership renewals, etc.

That is enough for now. Again as I said, it has been many years since I quit and from what you stated they have not done much better since.

Frank did not reply.

Nish wrote:

I have to be honest, the software is not up to date at all. Let’s go with the interface first, its looks and feels like its dated in windows 3.11 days (Or the software is built on Windows 3.11 Libraries or something). Worse is that the software doesn’t really have a proper uninstaller.

Aside from the extremely old software…I am quite positive about the security issues that the software might have. The way member information is transmitted from the software to the web — is probably non-secure.

Accessing the membership info on the website is done on a non-secure website. Almost all major sites on the Internet (I can’t think of any which doesn’t) use secure login to access one’s profile or member page. Look at Yahoo mail, Google Gmail, MSN Hotmail, etc (Sorry, only using mail websites of an example). It is not very hard to enable secure website login.

So in a nutshell, I just don’t see them investing time and resources on their software and packages. I had stopped using Power Investor software in about few weeks after I subscribed to their service. Yahoo Finance and Google Finance and few other web tools out there are much better for me. Power Investor may have been great like many years ago, but today is not to be at par. And it doesn’t even have all the stocks that I want to look for. For example, I was doing research on CME, BOT and ICE — I did not find them in the software.

Help desk service is pretty much nonexistent also. I have triedcalling them up — it took me few days to get hold of someone. But they did respond, so I am not that picky, but what irked me is that I had to give my credit card info on the phone to some stranger for subscription (This was in 2006). I will never subscribe to anything, if I can’t do over the web securely.

And ironically, they now have an option to buy their products, but I believe the page was created recently and once in Power Investors website — the order page will take one to https://shop.powerinvestor.com/ and if you notice the page is missing an icon or a pic on the top left. On Internet Explorer it just shows a box with a X on it. I will always be hesitant to order something of a broken website (it seems minor breakage) where I might have to enter my credit card details.

I am only a year old in the investing world. But so far, Power Investor has just failed to impress
me.

Frank replied:

He claims our order site is unsecure and our downloads are not secure. He does not have a clue about the downloads. We do not give anyone cookies or other hidden files when they come to our web site like Yahoo and others, The downloads and web site are totally secure. We have provided over 30 million downloads over the past 17 years that have been totally secure.

That’s the latest.

I’ll let you be the judge on whether or not I did the right thing to pull my recommendation of Power Investor from the 2008 edition of my stock book.

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