I tried to sign up for the Netflix-like online DVD rental service, Zip.CA, and gave up after their JavaScript-heavy form demanded that I retype all my credit-card information three more times. Why? Because apparently I had made a single mistake in one of the fields, which caused the entire page to reload and all of my correct fields to be erased. I make one mistake and it forces me to re-enter everything.

Error message reads: Please enter an answer when selecting “other”
Error message reads: You must fill out all mandatory fields!

I must fill out all mandatory fields<bang> Over and over again<bang> Even the fields I got right the first three times<bang>

How’s that for E-commerce?

It gets better: The Live Help chat-mode option requires Java, which their system thinks Firefox doesn’t have. (Did they build this thing just for IE6?) You could also find a lot of things wrong with their forms, semantics, overuse of pictures of text, accessibility, and general cluefulness.

I rang their “customer service” line (costing them actual money) and insisted that the Valley Girl–accented “customer service representative” send E-mail to the developers to get this fixed. (They had no method at all to assign a ticket to a tech-support complaint. She was initially just going to make a “note” in my “account” that would sit there unread until Armageddon.)

She offered twice to sign me up over the phone. Sorry, honey, but no go: This is an online DVD rental service, I do everything on the computer now, and if an expert can’t sign up for your service, he won’t be signing up at all.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.02.15 17:48. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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