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May 29, 2011 / X_Y

Where’s the communication? I’m an unhappy customer of online shopping

Personally I’m not a big fan of online shopping, as buying stuff without facing any physical agent (whether it’s the shop clerk or shopping machine) or product in hand makes me feel unsafe. But there’re times you should have a try, especially if you want something not so “physical”, like train tickets or ebooks. And today is the time, to be a novice user.

Online shopping is that easy?

Actually my real aim was to make sure the VISA card from Swedbank works for online shopping. First thing I did was to start the “Internet bank” service of my account, which turned out to be unnecessary later. This is not anybody’s fault, back in China shopping online will require opening a special service of the bank account, so I thought it was the same here in Sweden. Also the nice lady in the bank was asking me to open this service before, although I wasn’t very sure what it was, judging from its name my mind automatically connects it to online shopping. Anyway after some struggling with the Swedish bank interface I got the service, costing 150 SEK a year (for nothing). I saw the message “The service is opened for your account” Woops that’s quick! I was imaging waiting for a few days while they process the documents in bank.

Then I got to test if the online shopping is all right. I went to Amazon, bought the kindle version of “Design of Everyday things” for $14 (Gosh it’s more expensive than the paper book). Everything was fine! Amazon has a good user experience for shopping online, with an Amazon account I just need to choose the delivery details (not necessary for a kindle book, but I filled it last time so I just need to click once), fill my VISA information and the book is in my kindle!

Everything is fine by now, the bank part took me some effort but at least I’ve got things working. Time to enjoy the new book? Sorry, get a bad news for you: Amazon sent me an email, saying “the payment is not successful”. What, you’ve already sent me the book! OK, “please pay the bill within 5 days by clicking the link below”. So I just need to do it again! Check the VISA information carefully and fill in again, pay… Another Amazon mail comes, still not successful! Try again, again… I was confused, everything seems to be right, but why the result is wrong?

And now is the beginning of the great adventure. First I checked the message from Amazon, it gave some suggestions but none of them work. “Make sure it is payed in 5 days!!!”,”If it’s still not successful, try another bank account!!!” I feel under threaten by Amazon. I have the book here, but haven’t paid yet. It’s not a physical book, so I can’t even send it back! It makes me feel so bad about myself… They have my name and address and VISA number, hell knows what they’re going to do with me! And I still want to do business with them. So I have no means else but to solve the problem, huh?

I started searching about the “Internet bank” service, all in Swedish. Because if I search in English it’ll send me to the same bank with a different login method (The Swedish one is personal number and secure code, while the English one is user name and password, are they even the same thing?) After some Google translate work, I still had no idea what was wrong but started to realize the “Internet bank” is nothing related to online shopping. So I adjusted my keywords and started again. After a long time without much result (mostly from the bank’s website), I bumped into a post from an newspaper’s forum, where a guy was asking the same problem, but 3 years ago.  People are very kind, answering him with details, and links included. Finally, I found out that in order to pay online you’re obliged to use a “(super) secure payment” service, and the traditional way of paying is blocked, 3 years ago. I saw it on the bank’s website before, but as it’s called “(super) secure payment” service, it shouldn’t be an compulsion right? What’s more, the compulsion was mentioned nowhere else except the link get from that newspaper forum! Is this a bank or a spy agency?

The ending was somehow good, I finally get the bill payed (and find out the book I got ahead of payment was protected from being opened, so I was threatened for no reason) after 3 hours. I’m not a happy customer.

During the process, I encountered a problem (can’t pay on Amazon) with no indication, Amazon helped nothing but threating me, while Swedbank states “Any problem about online shopping should be asked against the seller”. So literally I could get no help but research from zero by my own. The bank’s website is also weird, first why do they need two different login systems  in one bank? Second, the “(super) secure payment” service is so different from the normal way of using a VISA card, why there’s no indication about the compulsion at all? And as it’s a regular practice, when Amazon get refused why there can’t be a message showing the cause? The bank failed to communicate with its users while Amazon failed to communicate with the banks, customers as well.

I’m imaging a method of communication between banks and sellers, so other than getting a success or failure output from the “blackbox”, the customer can actually see what kind of problem it is if the result is unsuccessful. The necessary visibility does not break customers’ experience at all, instead it’s a great way to help them finish their tasks, thus bringing better experience.

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