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How to Create Accounts for Vendors Who are Also Customers

vendor and customer.jpg


What happens when a vendor becomes a customer? You get to make sales from someone who you usually owe money!


Unfortunately, QuickBooks (Online and Desktop) has limitations when it comes to duplicate account names – you can only enter a person’s name once, even if they are on separate lists. One name, one account.


This duplicate name restriction applies to your customer, vendor and employee lists, as community member @yopotransport discovered trying to change a regular employee account into an independent contractor (“vendor”) account with the same name.


Don't let this deter you from growing your network!


Vendor as a customer 2.PNG


There are several simple workarounds for this minor technical setback so you can create separate accounts and track separate expenses for anyone who is a vendor and a customer (or some other combination). Keep in mind, the display name is what the invoice recipient actually sees on an invoice or email – what we’re solving for is the internal database limitation.


My preferred method is to leave the vendor account entry as is and add a (c) to the “suffix” field of the customer name. This way, at a glance, I know exactly which account I am dealing with. Adding the (c) to the suffix, rather than the title or name data fields, also ensures the name still shows up alphabetically on my Customer List.




Alternative methods: 

  • You can always create two accounts, one with a middle name (or initial) and one without. 
  • Some users suggest using a nickname for one of the accounts (“John Doh” becomes “Jonny Dough”). Keep the legal name on the vendor account.
  • Another trick is adding an [ (.) ] to one of the account names, which makes the variation more visually distinct and subtle on a name list.

These methods work, but without the context of lists, they may cause confusion or introduce unnecessary complications on reports or emails.


 Getting started


Simply go to the Sales Tab, edit your customer's profile and add the (c) to the suffix data field. Then, go to the Expense Tab and create the new vendor account.




Remember, once you’ve set up multiple accounts for a single individual, treat them as separate accounts – don’t mix different types of transactions.


If you have your own method that works, keep using it -- make your QuickBooks work for you!



What's your experience?


Do you have customers who have become vendors? Are there any challenges or opportunities when someone is both?

Level 15

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I would disagree with the concept of adding or changing  anything to a vendor name.


You never know when the IRS is going to change something that affects the vendors and reporting.  Vendors you do not issue a 1099 to now, might need a 1099 in the future, or some other form.


Modify the customer name only. 


IMO the simplest is to add a period after the first or last name, hardly anyone notices it when it appears on an invoice or sales receipt or even a report

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That's a good point. In cases when you have to issue 1099s, it can get complicated. It's simple enough to change the method around for customers. Thank you for the feedback.


Adding a period is a good method. 

Level 4

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Hi @Anonymous,


Yes talking from the perspective of Order postings thru applications like eCC/ Unify Desktop we come across same problem which in more technical language of QuickBooks is called " List element already in Use". This error usually comes in when customer name is also present in vendor list or other names list. So the generic answer we provide is same as what you have suggested to add a dot [.] or any other character in the vendor name list or other name list and then try to post the Order again. 

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@Shahji, I'm glad we all think alike ><.

Level 1

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I have recently taken over QB for a company.  They have customers that are also vendors in 2018 but never differentiated the accounts. So when I view a customer income report it also has the vendor payments applied and the report ends up negative.  If I use your recommend to "c" in suffix, how do I create a vendor account and then transfer the payments made to the vendor account?

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Hey @Belle_,


Thank you for reaching out. How far back do these transactions go? If it is more than a year, I would recommend leaving things as they are - the accounting was done based off of the existing data and they need to match the income figures on the filed taxes. 


If you know for certain which go to the customer and vendor account, if there are no bills (i.e. open to-be-paid transactions using the existing account), it should be safe to create the separate vendor account and transfer the expenses. Don't touch any of the customer-facing transactions, especially for anything that's on an open invoice. 

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Hi James, they are in the first quarter of this year, but Fiscal year ended Aug 31. I guess I'll leave them and set up vendor accounts in January.  Thx for the quick response.

Level 3

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Is there a way to display/search all the vendors that share very similar names with customers?

I'm working in a company file with where there are several people that are both customers & vendors, with slightly different versions of their names for each, and occasionally a transaction is assigned to the wrong one.  This happened once with a vendor that receives a 1099, and it wasn't showing properly because one of the payments was incorrectly listed under the customer version of the name, and its something I need to doublecheck before creating 1099s.


So any kind of report that could list all customer/vendor/othernames that share a first name or share a last name kind of thing?

QuickBooks Team

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Hi there, @TaxCatSC.


Welcome to the Community family. Allow me to share some information about searching all the vendors that share very similar names with customers in QuickBooks Online.


Currently, the option to search all the vendors that share very similar names with customers in QuickBooks Online isn't available. You can only search multiple names by transaction.  I can see how this feature would be beneficial to your business.  I encourage you sharing this idea to our Product Developers. Doing this helps them to assess how we can improve our product and determine what features need to be added in future updates. You can do this by clicking on the Gear Icon and select on Send Feedback Online.


Also to be updated about our latest happenings, updates, and features, I'd recommend checking out our QuickBooks Online Blog. Through this, you're able to know the recent news about QuickBooks Online and what our Product Care Team is working on.


In case you need additional assistance, feel free to reach out to our Customer Care Team. You can reach through this contact details:

  1. Go to:
  2. Choose your QuickBooks Product.
  3. Select your QuickBooks version.
  4. On the Contact Us page, click a topic.
  5. Click on the Get Phone Number button to see the support number.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can do to help. I'll do my best to provide further assistance. Happy weekend!

Level 3

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From the left menu, select Sales.

    • Select Customers/Clients.
    • Select a customer to open the customer page.
    • On the Customer Details tab, select Edit to open the Customer information window.
    • Clear the Use display name checkbox.
Level 1

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The problem overall is we have reached our 14,500 vendor, customer, employee limits.  Therefor all of these "duplicate" accounts are taking up valuable resource space on lists.  I've found no work around that doesn't involve duplicate vendor/customers/employees.  QB says our only option is to upgrade to the most expensive version of QB and we're a nonprofit so it's not financially easy to do so. It's really frustrating, a "name" should be able to be multiple things!

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It's nice to have you here in our forum, @Glang,


I can share some workarounds to help you manage your lists in QuickBooks Online.


There are a few ways to correct duplicate names in QuickBooks Online. Here are some options you can try:


Merge names under the same account:



  1. Select Sales on the left navigation menu and choose Customers.
  2. Choose the customer that you don't want to use and select Edit.
  3. Modify the TitleFirst nameMiddle nameLast name, and Suffix so that it's identical to the customer that you're merging with. Also, ensure that the Display Name is the same as well.
  4. Select Save and choose Yes that you want to merge the two.



  1. Go to the Expenses menu.
  2. Tap the Vendors tab.
  3. Click the vendor's name then hit Edit.
  4. Enter the same vendor name you want to retain.

Please know that this process cannot be reversed and is permanent. For additional insight about this process, such as how data is retained, please see the following article: How to Merge Accounts, Customers, and Vendors.


Inactive a vendor or customer:


  1. Click on the Sales or Expenses from the navigation panel.
  2. Mark the box beside the client or contractor's name.
  3. Press the Batch actions drop-down and select Make inactive.
  4. Hit Yes to confirm the action


I've included some articles to guide you with the steps:


How to make a vendor inactive

How to make a customer inactive and then active


As always, I'm just a quick post away if I can be of additional assistance. Have a wonderful day!

Level 1

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@Anonymous, Thank you for the advice! We've done all of the above except inactivate vendors/customers. Does inactivating a customer or vendor reduce your list count?  I was under the impression it did not.  I'm also looking at condensing our data for previous years but I don't want to lose long time donor history and I believe it's date driven.  

QuickBooks Team

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Hi there, @Glang.


Inactivating your customer or vendors does lower your active list count. I'd be glad to provide more details about this and guide you how.


When you choose to inactivate customers and vendors, this lowers your list count. However, this doesn't lower your overall list count. Your inactive customers and vendors are still included in the counting of customers and vendors.


You can follow the steps below in inactivating a customer:

  1. Hover your mouse on Sales from the left panel.
  2. Choose Customers.
  3. In the Customers page, select a customer to inactivate.
  4. Choose Make Inactive from the Action column.
  5. Select Yes on the pop-up.

Then, you can follow these steps to inactivate a vendor:

  1. Hover your mouse on Expenses from the left panel.
  2. Choose Vendors.
  3. In the Vendors page, select a vendor to inactivate.
  4. Choose Make Inactive from the Action column.
  5. Select Yes on the pop-up.

As for condensing your data, this is currently unavailable in QuickBooks Online. However, this is available in QuickBooks Desktop.


You can also visit our Help Articles page if you want to learn more "How do I" steps.


Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions. I'll be here to help you.