Another week, another horror tale from the world of stupid online corporate tricks.
Today we bring you the sad and somewhat horrifying story of the phone company that won’t take your money. Trust me – I wish I could report that it was out of some philanthropic urge it had to give us all a break. Not so. Instead, it’s (yet another) example of how letting programmers, lawyers, and designers do things without input from the real world can spell disaster.
Here at Ritter Media World Headquarters we have a land line as our primary business phone. It’s from AT&T (yep, them again) and on the bill is also my internet service. Generally I send them an electronic check once a month but that takes a couple of days to get to them from the bank (a great topic for another post – why the hell should they hold the money for two business days?). As sometimes happens, the bill got buried in a pile of paper and rather than be late I thought I’d go right to the ATT website and pay the bill directly via credit card.
That was what I thought I’d do. Unfortunately, after spending 20 minutes on the website, I still couldn’t figure out how to link primary account (it’s the only landline account) to my email and I couldn’t pay the bill. I tried linking it my ATT Wireless accounts – neither of those worked. I tried the ATT email they assigned me (but never use) – that didn’t work. I finally gave up and called them – no time on hold, one layer of menus, type in the credit card, done.
Obviously ATT is a lot more experienced with phones than they are with websites. Paying via the telephone was a snap. If someone like me – who is on the web almost 12 hours a day and breathes digital – can’t figure out how to use the web service portal, imagine how someone who can barely send a text will feel. There are a couple of points here. First, I wonder how many “civilians” ATT put on the site to test navigation and usability? Did they give them 3 or 4 tasks – like pay your bill! – and observe them? Second, stories such as this are why there is still a long way to go with a large segment of the population with respect to making them accept technology into their lives.
Have a horror story to share? We’re listening!