Elephants Without Borders Hair Care


Elephants Without Borders Hair Care

Mint strikes again


A cartoon elephant with hair cutting tools
DALLE-2 image by author

I love Mint. It helps me manage my finances and I definitely recommend it. However, it’s not without its faults and, because it would be so obviously easy for Mint to correct those problems, it is frustrating that they continue to ignore these year after year after year.

One of the most frustrating problems is something that used to work much better than it does now. It’s not that Mint changed anything; it’s that they have not changed it.

Let me explain. Every month I pay rent at our Over 55 community. In the distant past, I was able to tell Mint to categorize any charge from Oak Point (the name of our community) as Rent. It was so easy.

Screenshot of Mint transaction showing a category rule
Screenshot of Mint transaction showing a category rule

Alas, a few years back everyone started adding dates to bank and credit card transactions. So what used to appear to Mint as “ELECTRONIC PAYMENT OAK POINT” now has a date appended: “ELECTRONIC PAYMENT OAK POINT 230605”.

You’d think Mint could easily understand that. You’d think that if my rule said to match “ELECTRONIC PAYMENT OAK POINT” that Mint could ignore what follows and categorize it correctly.

But no. It has categorized this as “Home” (yes, it is our home, so fair guess) and this last month it appeared as “Credit Card Payment”. Huh? That last choice is fascinating. I have no credit card named “Oak Point”, so how could it be a credit card payment?

As a programmer, I shake my head in disbelief; even without calling upon AI, which could certainly make short work of this nonsense, the fix is simple: stop matching against rules once you have matched what the customer typed. So simple and so common a need that almost all programming languages have a length argument for comparing strings. Those languages can also easily get the length of a string, so you get that from what the customer said to match, and use it to stop your comparison to transactions. Trivial, so easy that it would take literally seconds to fix. But no, Mint ignores this frequent complaint.

My Social Security check added dates at some point. I have a rule that says “PREAUTHORIZED CREDIT SSA” should be “Social Security Income”, but Mint ignores that. At least it now seems to understand this is Income, so it calls it a “Paycheck” but it has chosen other odd categories.

A garden center becomes a restaurant, a restaurant becomes a supermarket, and I never know what I might have to manually correct, but my daughter, also engaged in a love/hate relationship with Mint, recently took the prize when she told me that Mint decided her donation to Elephants Without Borders was categorized as Hair Care.

Yup, hair care. I could see if Mint chose “Books” or “Pet Care” or even “Travel”. Those would be wrong, but not completely idiotic. Unless, perhaps, somewhere in this wacky world there is an “Elephants Without Borders” hair salon?

If so, I apologize for laughing. Well, no, because that would be a reason to laugh by itself, but yes, Mint would be absolved of guilt.

So, Intuit (the owner of Mint), yes, I know Mint is free, but I also know that you collect a lot of valuable intel about me and all your customers. You sell ads on Mint that use that gathered data and I bet you package it for sale elsewhere as well. I know the cost of an AI solution would cause genuine illness in your Boardroom, but how about spending a tiny bit of that money on fixing some of your egregious errors?

Or are you spending too much money on haircuts for your elephants?

  • You might think that writing here means big money. Actually, it usually gets me only a dollar or so a day. That is why donations, one time or monthly, are always appreciated. See https://ko-fi.com/pcunix


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