As a single developer, I have programmed and designed a number of web transaction systems, and not one of them was limited to use on platform or web browsers (well to be honest, our 1998 Hero’s Journey site has some JavaScript quirks that prevent full use on some browsers, then again, I had no idea 18,000 accounts would be created).

So I am a bit flummoxed how a large banking organization like CitiBank with gobs of money, programmers, designers, can create the worst, most unusable web transaction systems. I am not saying I am better them them, but the largest bank in the universe, or so it seems, ought not to put out systems for the customers that are unusable. Anyone hear of usability testing?

As it is, on a Mac, I am forced to use Internet Explorer to access my account because their not so clever flyout menus do not work on other browsers. But then when I tried to access a different service area that required a different login, this site kept me in an endless registration loop of confirming my personal data. And on this site, the menus would disappear before I could even find a link for customer service.

So this is the labyrinth path of customer service.

(1) I submit a complaint via their form interface.
(2) I get an automated email notifying me that I will get a reply. Lovely. The personal touch.
(3) The email with the supposed answer arrives, not with the answer, but another series of steps to get an answer:

 We have responded to the message you recently sent to XXXXXXXXXX Customer Care.
To view our response, sign-on at http://XXXXXX.XXXXXX.com, select Contact Us from the Help/Contact Us menu, and choose View/Update Messages.

You’ll find new messages listed in bold in the Message Board section.

Just click on the subject and your message will appear below with our reply.

That was 4 steps in a process to get me information that could have just as easily been in an email. This is not a secure transaction, why all the hoops to click through? A customer support communication should not take that many steps to get to the meat of it. Stoopid.

And after all that, the helpful information?

We apologize for the problems you have encountered. We strive to be the best in the business and feedback like yours helps us to improve our service. We will make every effort to serve your future needs in a manner more consistent with your expectations and our standards.

Yeah, right. I have some high expectations, are you really ready to hear them??

Please call the Thank You Redemptions Network at 1-877-XXXXXXX (1-877-xxx-xxxx) for assistance. They are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Central Time.

That is stoopid- I contacted you online because I do not have the time to contact you at your convenience (and go through a fetid phone menu), how about you aiming for mine?

They will be able to assist you with your questions and web support.
You can also visit the website at: www.xxxxxxxx.com

I always love it when the recorded message advises you to use their website when it is the web site that is broken. It’s like when I have to call our cable internet provided because their service is down, and the recorded soothing voice lets me know I can also get questions answered on their web site.

I hate to think of the thousands of hours and dollars that went to some consultant to come up with idiotic approaches like these.

Stoopid.

The post "Stoopid Web Design Confounded By Stoopider Customer Service" was originally slapped on the butt by a cigar smoking doctor yelling "It's a post!" at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2004/10/stoopid-web/) on October 16, 2004.

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