Blame it on COVID-19.
Like the ENTIRE WORLD, I probably have a lot of pent-up frustration right now, which I should probably turn to writing here and on my other sites about constructive things, but there you go. I’m not. Instead, tonight I found myself returning to one of my all-time favourite pursuits: kvetching.
I used to have a regular feature of this site where I’d fire off letters giving people pieces of my mind. But I got tired of it. Kvetching is exhausting. So I promise, I’m not going to do much of it.
But tonight was an exception.
Because I was checking out at the Better World Books site this evening when all of a sudden, a survey popped up about how my experience was. And it just so happened that I had had a pretty bad experience on their site.
Before you say anything, I know, I know – first world problems.
In the grand scheme of things, there’s a pandemic on and I had a problem at an ecommerce website. It’s not exactly life-threatening. But seriously, I used to like their site quite a bit. Heck, I used to even ask for BWB gift certificates as the perfect trashless gift for every occasion.
But lately, their site feels like it’s taken a huge step backwards.
In fact, a few weeks ago, I emailed them because the ability to sort and filter search results seemed to have disappeared from the site. Thinking I must be mistaken, because this is 2020 and how the heck are you SUPPOSED to shop online at a site that doesn’t let you get at the data you need.
Here’s the full reply I got from Better World Books:
We apologize that this option is not currently available, we are looking into a site update soon. Many thanks for your feedback!
This OPTION. The option to list the $7 books before the $127 books. The option to not list the million books out of stock so I can drill down and find the one that is and – hey, here’s an idea, Better World Books – actually BUY the thing.
Your site update soon, by the way, leaves me uniquely unimpressed. Because this is exactly like saying,
“Hey, we know our site is garbage and we recently made it worse for no explicable reason. At some unspecified time in the future, it will be good. Be sure to check back in regularly to see if we’ve made the site functional again.”
Yeah, BWB, that’s not how it works.
But I’m a sucker for a bargain, so tonight I went back and screamed my way through the frustration of manually sifting through pages and pages of search results.
And after I finally managed to place my order, they had the chutzpah to splash a survey in my face. How could I resist??? They were ASKING for my feedback. They actually wanted the proverbial piece of my mind.
So here’s what I told them.
Please type a quick message about your shopping experience so far.
Why does it have to be a quick message? What if I have a lot to say? :-)
Basically, this site is garbage. I feel like I'm trapped back in 1997. :-(
It's like you've never heard of UI/UX.
The site lets you search just fine but then you can't sort by price or even availability, so you have to sift through a million horrible books. The site used to have this functionality, maybe even last year - but now it's gone.
Also, the prices have gone up quite a bit lately. Meaning that Book Depository is almost always a better choice these days, period.
Especially because they ship quicker, also for free.
Why did you choose Better World Books?
Loyalty? Stupid? Sometimes you can find an obscure book here for a decent price. But by and large it's a miserable shopping experience.
For instance, when I add a product to my wishlist, I don't want to see my wish list, I want to keep shopping. This is 2020 and that's the way almost every ecommerce store behaves, but someone decided that BWB should show me my wish list every three seconds.
Even when you move an item from your shopping cart to the wish list, it takes you to the wish list.
Rule #1 of ecommerce stores: don't do anything that gets between the customer and checkout. That's just an idiotic move.
I know what's on my wish list. I don't need to see it every three seconds.
Speaking of wishlist, the site no longer allows me to add out-of-stock items to my wishlist, which kind of defeats the purpose of the site altogether. This may well be my last purchase here.
Why did you choose this product(s)?
Because they are books and I like to read. This survey is almost as poorly planned as the site itself.
How was your experience of the checkout process?
That was actually okay. Once BWB stopped whisking me away to my wish list, I was able to checkout via PayPal. That was probably more thanks to PayPal's sophisticated, 2020-friendly interface and UX than anything BWB should get credit for.
So there you have it. The kvetch of the day. Maybe of the year.
OK, not quite true. I have complained unceasingly this entire year, but most have not been fit for public consumption. Next post, I promise I’ll focus on what’s going RIGHT in my life – which I swear, is a heck of a lot. Don’t even worry about it.
Want to fill me in on what’s happening in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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