Web Site Woes & Asynchronous Conversations

I had to send a payment and went to the Western Union site. The Find an Agent Location page needs work. When I ran a zip code search, it insisted I pick a country, even though I'd selected the US site from a pick your country page:

Mad, I tried 90210 as a Canadian zip:

Nope, not the right format, as I had suspected. (And isn't that a snippy error message? I hate it when computers get snippy with me.)

Then I tried Mexico, even though it said "United States and Canada Only" After waiting a long time, an enormous list of what looked like every Western Union in Mexico came up. None of them have 90210 in their address.

Then, for a rousing old-fashioned finish, I received a 404 page not found error with some verbiage about my session timing out.

Getting back to the annoying search, the site knows the distinction between a United State and Canadian zip code, but fails to use it. It also makes you select United state for a search with a United States city and state.

I know New Mexico is sometimes thought to be a foreign country, but there really is only one Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Another story. I moved recently. I used the post office's online address changer on July 12th. It's August 16th. Do you think I'm getting any mail forwarded?

Even worse, while I was writing them to complain, I received a ridiculous error message about my session timing out for my privacy. I wasn't logged in with any username or personal information though, and it had not been 30 minutes.

It's almost heretical, but I often don't use the Internet to actually do something. I use it more often for information or interaction. A site has to have ease of use, a price break, a big selection, or do something I couldn't do in the "real world." This reminds me of a Jakob Nielsen column about how the Internet should be better than reality.

Web logs improve on reality in the ease of an asynchronous conversation with people from all over the world, about people, about what web sites are worth going to. For someone like me who's verbally oriented it can be compelling. I find it much more interesting than a "Just shut up and shop" (a phrase from Bruce Bethke's funny Headcrash.)

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Friday, August 16, 2002 (Link)