Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Multiple-click frustration

I've been in the dreaded "order the school books for this school year" mode most of the afternoon. I decided to start with our current math book provider, who will not be named in this blog post.

Suffice it to say that after a dozen different fruitless attempts, I am giving up for now. Apparently the brilliant math geniuses who wrote these books lack any understanding whatsoever of website design, password-reset functionality, or availability of real-time help. And they're the ones requiring that I reset my password--it was working fine the last time I used it, but apparently they're requiring all users to do a reset.

And here I thought that the total lack of response to a question I sent last week was a mere oversight. Apparently, though, they lack the ability to use my email address--because my attempts to login were supposed to trigger an email sent to that address, and have thus far utterly failed to do so--even though, again, I've checked, double-checked, and triple-checked to make sure that I'm using the right email address for this account.

Why not simply create a new account? Well, aside from the inconvenience of needing to place the order over again instead of having it saved in my cart, I apparently need to purge my browser of cookies, because the website keeps remembering me as an "existing customer" and won't even display the option to create a new account. Because, of course, I'm an "existing customer." I just can't place an order--because why would an existing customer want to do a silly thing like that?

And that's not even as annoying as the pop-up message I keep getting on one page chiding me for failing to create a display name and erasing everything I have done--this, though the only fields on the page are fields in which to enter an email address, a password, and a password confirmation.

Every year, I dread ordering textbooks and school materials. It's not just the money, which gets pretty considerable in some areas. It's not just the time spent online. It's not just the agonizing questions about which program or book to try here or there.

It's the foray into the vast and scary world of customer-proof websites, the sites dreamed up by people who have, apparently, never visited a working Internet store and would shudder at the very thought of "one-click shopping." It's the world of multiple-click frustration, incomplete or bizarre order confirmations--or absent ones--and "customer service" that is neither customer-oriented nor service-oriented, but oriented in some way toward achieving a kind of Zen-perfection of unhelpful silence, puzzling enigma, and inconvenience.

And I have a whole list of books yet to purchase, and the math books remain in the limbo of an online shopping cart. Maybe. If the "Display Name Pop-up Gremlin" hasn't erased them.

Maybe the science books will be easier to buy...

7 comments:

Jill said...

""customer service" that is neither customer-oriented nor service-oriented, but oriented in some way toward achieving a kind of Zen-perfection of unhelpful silence, puzzling enigma, and inconvenience."

LOL! I don't understand how webstore designers can possibly make it so difficult....

And some universities. Unfortunately the one my daughter decided to attend is about the worst!

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think what tends to happen is that the website designers and the actual customer service people are two completely different groups.

The site designers have never USED the site like the public does. They've also never had to take the calls from angry people who can't use the site. And they assume that the feedback they GET from customer service is a passive-agressive attempt to undermine them....

I went through this a couple of years back and just gave up--now, if I can't get it through Amazon, I just do it the old fashioned 1-800 number way!

Liz said...

Do they have a snail mail address that you could send your questions to? Do they have a phone number you could call? I did my most of my homeschooling (and curriculum ordering) pre-internet. I did utilize 1-800 numbers a lot, however. I'm very apt to look for stuff on Amazon if the publisher's website is unfriendly. Quite often I not only find it there, but I find it there cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Love the phrase "customer proof website", having come across many.

Jennifer said...

Is it MUS? I had to call and order on the telephone b/c I kept running into password problems and no one would get back to me.

Red Cardigan said...

Jennifer, I can neither confirm nor deny it. ;)

What finally worked for me was clearing my cache and inventing a brand-new account. At least, it seemed to work--we'll see for sure when the books arrive! :)

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Why don't the schools just buy the books and issue them, like they used to when I was growing up?