Something’s seriously wrong with the design if…

Something’s seriously wrong with the design if…

… a bona fide user needs 4 attempts to enter the “captcha”…
… you have to fish all the messages from your business partners out of the junk mail folder…
… an online store session times out right after you entered your credit card data.

All of this really happened to me over the last 24 hours.
Do you have examples of paranoidal technology running amok? I would be interested to hear about it.

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A new blog on photography

My friend Alex Gridenko, a photographer and graphic designer, who also restored photographs of Prokudin-Gorsky (and who is responsible for the header photo of my blog), now blogs in English.
Check out his blog for great photos and design insights.
Alex Gridenko – Graphic design, photography and image restoration

Good customer service: priceless, or How one should NOT treat bitchy customers

As I have complained already, I had trouble exporting Facebook events into Google calendar. When I tried to export, Facebook gave me an .ics file and I for the life of me did not know what to do next. For some reason I supposed that there should be a link or a button or something, and when you press it, the event appears on your Google calendar (like Eventbrite does, and, by the way, that’s how I found Google calendar and started using it: that’s what I call good customer experience). Facebook offered nothing like that, and when I searched it I only found someone’s complaint that there is no application for exporting events. I decided that the logical place to seek help was with Facebook customer service. A message exchange ensued, pretty much along these lines:

I:
– Dear facebook customer service, how can I export FB events into Google calendar?
They:
– You can export your Events while viewing the main Events page, by clicking on the “Export Events” link at the top of this page. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.
I:
– All this link does is offering me to open the same .ics file with Firefox instead of Outlook.
They:
– Our records indicate that you are able to use this file successfully to import your events into your calander [SIC! – T.S.]. You will need to contact your Gmail, if you are experiencing difficulties. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns, and I will be glad to assist you.
I:
– Could you please tell me, exactly HOW I must use this file to export events into Gmail calendar? (Also, please note that calendar is spelled with an “a”.) [Now, at this moment I am still unable to export events, and slightly pissed off with the whole situation]
They:
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Google if you are experiencing difficulties with your file. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

I feel that our talk turns into a conversation of a blind man with a deaf one. I start suspecting that one of us is an idiot, or maybe we both are. I enter “importing .ics file into google” into Google and in 3 seconds find a solution. I must explicitly import the darned .ics file using Google calendar’s user interface, and it is a standard operation. 1 more minute, and everything is done. I am happy. (By the way, this is how you do it.)

But then I think, WHY ON EARTH could not the customer service person tell me that outright, saving a few useless messages and her own time (to say nothing about mine)? Could she use Google in the same way that I did and tell me what she found? Of course. But SHE DID NOT BOTHER TO. I imagined my own conversation with a client:

Client:
– Dear Tania, how much will you charge for translating this text?
I:
– (this much) per word.
Client:
– How do I count the words?
I:
– My records indicate that you are able to use Microsoft Word functionality to count the words in your text successfully.
Client:
– Yes, but exactly how do I count the words?
I:
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Microsoft if you are experiencing difficulties with your word count. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

Ridiculous, right? Of course I am not responsible for teaching my clients to use Microsoft Word, but if I talked to them like in this imaginary dialogue, I guess I’d be without clients pretty soon. Hello, Facebook customer service? TAKE NOTES.