Cretins Of The World Wide Web • Part II

This issue’s “Cretins Of The World Wide Web” award goes not to a particular person or organization, but to a group mass… I call it “The Limited”.

Not “the limited” as in the adjective abbreviated as “Ltd.” you see at the end of most company names (e.g. “Graphic Tribe Ltd.”), but “The Limited” as a noun meaning “somebody with limited intellectual abilities” or “somebody with limited knowledge about anything outside their town”… or simply “somebody stupid” :)

No, I’m not talking about the AOLers, they’re far beyond this modest awarding system :)

I’m talking about all these online retailers — starting with well-known stores such as and ending with unknown little nobodies such as — who give us, the customers, a hard time when trying to use their online shops to buy shit.

To be more specific, I’m talking about the companies who reject your order when the shipping address is different from the billing address on your credit card, despite the fact that their ordering forms do not make any mention whatsoever about this…

To be even more specific, I’m talking about the companies who reject your order when the shipping address doesn’t match the billing address, but fail to let you know about this before submitting the order — together with all your personal info (such as credit card number and address) — or even after (like the cretins at did to me a while ago).

Imagine this: you’re trying to buy something for someone else (e.g. a gift for a friend in another country), so you put the order in, type your info in the “billing address” form, that someone else’s address in the “shipping address” form and submit the order.

So the order form has both a “billing address” and a “shipping address” fieldsets and they display no error or warning when you try to input different addresses in the respective fields.
You go ahead and type in the credit card number, the three-digit security number, your name, address, phone number, together with the other person’s name and address… You entrust this info to these people.

And then — in the best case, right after submitting the order, instead of the “Thank you” message (e.g. or, in the worst case, never, even though you got the “Thank you for your transaction” message and even a confirmation e-mail (e.g. — you get your order rejected!

Now, I know the reasons, I know that there’s a lot of fraud going on and credit cards get stolen and shit, so I’m not criticizing this policy.
For this I’d have to create a “Cretins Of The Sales Departments” awards and I can’t be bothered with it right now :)

What I’m criticizing is the failure to create order forms that verify your input and adjust themselves automatically to the section of the sales policy that applies to you.
All these stores use Javascript extensively, but all of them fail to use the one important script that would save us a lot of time and trouble.
None of these stores use XMLHttpRequest yet and they should.
There might be other ways too, PHP, Perl, I don’t know… None of them are where they should be.

Take for example — a good example — Apple Store. The order form changes its structure every time you select an option (e.g. geographical location) that requires a specific portion of the policy applied to your transaction. If I’m not mistaken, they do use XMLHttpRequest and they use it well. Or even if it’s Javascript, it works as it should. Buying shit from Apple Store is a pleasure, it runs smooth and it’s fast.

Point is, these online retailers need to rewrite their software in such a way to make it flexible to the customer’s needs. And they need to fire those webmasters and get some new — usability-aware — people to take care of their sites.

And because they fail and because their failure leads to my discomfort as a buyer, they’re all a bunch of cretins.

Because they allow me to input my credit card number before telling me that my transaction cannot go through, because they (e.g. even fail to let me know that the transaction had been rejected, because they (aforementioned dot com) blame me for not reading the fine print instead of blaming their webmaster for being a lazy bastard who doesn’t know shit about usability, because they make me never want to go back to the respective store and because they make me waste my time with filling in an order form that gets trashed right after I submit it.

So, this issue’s “Cretins Of The World Wide Web” award goes to the mass of online retailers who have order forms allowing the option to input different addresses for the “billing” and “shipping” fieldsets when, in fact, their sales policies don’t allow this type of transactions.


P.S.: Extra-bonus to the limited from for not having a customer support e-mail link on the website (!!!) and to Adobe Store for telling me that I have to use the Japanese store only after I spent an hour and a half to fill my shopping card with a handful of fonts :)

Next issue will, most likely, be dealing with the disappearance of the domains and with the cretins who sleep better knowing that objectionable domain names like these are now listed as “domain disabled”.