Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Saturday, June 26, 2004
eCommerce the wrong way  
I've been experiencing some frustrations with attempting to purchase goods online recently. I've been trying to order some CDs by a relatively obscure New York band called the Ladybug Transistor. I can't find their records on the best NZ online stores - Smoke or Real Groovy. Eventually, I track down their record company's website - Merge Records. I see that Merge also releases some of my favourite artists - the Magnetic Fields, the Clean, etc. So I order me some CDs.

I get all the way through the ordering process, supply my credit card details, and the site tells me I've entered too many characters in my address line. Now, newsflash guys - I typed my address there. That's how it's written. If I wrote it any other way, it wouldn't match the records on my credit card. But it tells me this after I've entered all my CC details, and tells me to hit the back button and make changes. So if I do that, I get a "this page contains post data, do you want to resend?" message. And if I do that, I run the risk of resending my credit card details and paying twice.

So naturally, I don't do that. Instead, I email them, asking if they've received my order or not. Guess what? No reply. Which really leaves me wondering if they want me to buy their records or not.

As an aside, people building international websites need to realise that not everyone does things the way they do in their country. For example, the US uses 5 digit zip codes. New Zealand uses 4 digits, but they aren't required and hardly anyone bothers with them. The UK uses anything from 2 to 8 alpha-numeric characters. Web forms need to be flexible enough to allow for this (my favourite was the site that had a drop-down menu for you to select which country you were in, but also REQUIRED you to select a US state or territory!).