A quick lesson on how to irritate & confuse website customers

It’s a rainy Sunday and I wanted to go to the cinema with my children.
We’d found a film and a cinema – the new Tim Burton film in Titania, here in Berlin.
And because the film had just been released, we’d decided to book our tickets in advance.
There really shouldn’t be anything easier that that these days.
Or so I thought.

We agreed on the seats we wanted and I hit the button “book now”.

The top half of my laptop screen was taken up by a summary of what I’d like to buy (film name, number of tickets, seat numbers etc.). The rest of the screen was filled with the section to log-in.
Hmmm… I couldn’t log-in because I’d never registered at that cinema site.
But I’m stumped for only a brief moment… I scrolled down the page and found a section to register as a new user.

Hmmm, I thought… I really just wanted to buy tickets online with my credit card.

So I scrolled further and found a button inviting me to check-out as a guest.
That’s my button, I thought and hit it.

The thing is though; I landed on a page with an almost complete registration form… only the password field was missing. All other fields (name, address, country, eMail etc.) were obligatory. There were no other options to continue.
That just confused me, which in turn irritated me.

So I was forced to submit details that I didn’t want to provide. This was (and probably still is) an example of collecting needless but valuable data, presumably, to sell on to dubious business associates.

All in all, the cinema website owners and their dubious associates are guilty of untrustworthy, scumbag behavior and should be avoided where possible.

The truth is, only my card details should be necessary to check out as a guest. And should my postal address be necessary to verify the card payment, then that should be given as a reason why the address is needed.

To make matters worse, I didn’t receive a confirmation eMail.

I was expecting to get something to print and take along to the cinema or, alternatively, something on my phone which I could show at the cinema, which would have the added benefit of saving a tree or two.

But nothing arrived… even though I hit “refresh” several times in my eMail client.

That, in turn, confirmed that the cinema collected data for no reason – they didn’t need my eMail since they didn’t send any eMails out.

EDIT: I did receive an eMail somewhat later and before leaving for the cinema. It remains a poor performance none-the-less by their eMail provider.

How Sony simply failed at expectation management

It’s the start of 2016 and I’m looking for a new TV.

I know which size I want and it’s a three horse race between Panasonic, LG and Sony.
They all offer more or less the same feature set and they all promise the same amazing viewing experience.
And they’re all quality manufacturers (which BTW is why Samsung is not in my short list).

Although I couldn’t immediately identify the right one to buy, I tended towards the Sony because of the better picture quality and the better sound. Those are the basic disciplines that a TV should be good at. To help shed some light, I went off in search of consumer opinions, as they’re euphemistically known.

A critical detail is that all 3 advertise the ability the easily save a TV show on an external hard drive, connected by USB. Probably a feature that’s par for the course these days.

The thing is though, it’s possible out-of-the-box on LG and Panasonic but will only be possible on the Sony some time in the future when that particular feature is implemented in the firmware.
Sony’s approach is to update the firmware whenever they’ve made an improvement.
And that’s exactly their problem… zero communication and, what feels like, zero commitment to their customers who, let’s not forget, have already paid for the goods and feel cheated.

Nobody knows when the next update will be available and nobody knows which feature is being added or which problem is going to be addressed. Sony says look at their website but the URL doesn’t say anything useful.

The specific feature of USB recording as been dated for release and postponed to the next release at least 5 times since the middle of 2015. Since Sony are unable to manage customer expectations, all of those customers have their own expectations. They have very little hope that this small yet important feature (which Sony still advertise as a feature on their TV although it is still not available) will ever be released.

As a consequence of the growing irritation & frustration & disappointment, there’s a huge amount of scathing “1 star out of 5” attacks by customers. Yes! they all mention how great the picture and sound are, yet all feel “cheated” by Sony.

eMails are worse for you than marijuana or not sleeping

A recent study found that British workers’ IQ test scores drop by an average of 10 points when they juggle phones, eMails and other electronic gadgets & messages.
The study also discovered that the drop even is greater than after test candidates smoked a joint or lost a night’s sleep.
Needless to say, while we have great technology in the workplace, you can’t beat going to work stoned… eh, no I don’t mean that! I mean we still need to think hard about how technology is being used and what its side affects are.
It seems to me that it’s only an excuse to dump more work on our desks.

Like a bullet in the back of the head

This inconceivable incident took place recently in Houston, Texas (a gun-totin’ city not unknown for its love of head shots).
A police man decided to arrest someone because he did not have any identification … (Well! that seems fair enough?!)
The police officer did a quick body search before putting handcuffs on him.
So that was the situation: A handcuffed prisoner was sitting in the back seat of a police car during a routine traffic control and was separated from the front seat by a so-called bulletproof shield.
And what happened next?
The handcuffed man pulled out a gun …
(A gun??!! I thought he had been searched??!!)
… pulled out a gun and shot the police officer four times in the head.
(Four times??!!)
(And what happened to the bulletproof shield??!!)
Thanks to a simple child lock it was not possible to open the doors from the inside.
So he sat there and waited to be arrested.
He was charged with cold-blooded murder.

Black & white tend towards grey

Just read some research exploring the secrets of the jury room.
When compared with all-white (probably supremist!) juries, racially mixed juries are likely to be fairer and more thorough in their decision making and appear to be more competent at making group-based decisions.
A plausible explanation is that jurors drawn from various racial groups tend to enter into longer and more detailed discussions about cases to “test” their own feelings and ideas.
I’m a little surprised that any moral arguments for more racial diversity have to take a back seat to practical arguments.
But better late than never.
There’s even hope for the racist bastards in Chicago.

Penile surgery

Just read about a man with problems; he has just pleaded guilty to the charge of sending a bomb to his plastic surgeon who, he claimed, botched his penile enlargement surgery. (ouch!)
Our devious bomber, let’s call him Rock Hard :-), mailed the letter-bomb because he was “extremely unhappy with the results” of his dick surgery, which should you be interested, cost him EUR6,600 (£4,500 or $8,000).
In the end he alerted authorities before the bomb arrived and it was disarmed.
Rock Hard’s lawyer claimed that his client is mentally ill which, as we all know, is a standard claim made by all lawyers representing poor sods; “You shouldn’t group this guy with people who drive truckloads of explosives into buildings” he said.

Tin-can antennas for the last mile

An Italian physics research institute has developed a low-fi, low-cost wi-fi antenna for communication purposes in the third world: the tin-can antenna. That thing that we all used as children to make our first telephone calls has been rediscovered, only without the string: The “cantenna” is made from a can, a screw-on connector and a short brass wire and is basically a satellite dish in the form of a can which works in a mono-directional way. The only difference is its production costs which are an estimated €2.00 ($2.40).
Make your own” in this easy to follow article.