Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hey Visa, Suck It

Dearest Visa, you're as too-big-to-fail as any cryptic mega-institution could ever hope to be, and soon enough we'll be bailing you out, directly or indirectly, if we haven't already begun doing so. Until then, please consider this a small contribution to the explanation of why people hate you even before they give you large sums of money to ransom back a semi-functional economic order.

In the course of conducting one of those "e-commerce" transactions that we're always hearing about, I was prompted to "verify" my card. Merely entering the card's unique number, its expiration date, it's secret security number, and assorted personal details was only the beginning of this fantastickal journey of buying some piece of crap or other. You won't let just anyone make a purchase with this card, certainly not its holder. Heavens no! Not without a prolonged fight you won't! You want us to feel alive, and you know that nothing does that as well as strife, confusion, conflict, self-doubt, and tedium.

As you can see from the screen print, I was asked to provide additional details over and above those already given. I want to call out a few of the irons upon which my hatred for you has been newly re-forged:

  • Note, first, the agency confusion. You've made sure to drag my financial institution, Advantis Credit Union, into this situation even though they have nothing to do with this bullshit.
  • Accordingly, note what's missing from this presentation. Whom do I call if I encounter problems? It cleverly leaves that out! Naturally, the number I can think to call is that of my financial institution, which, again, has nothing to do with this bullshit. So the tail-chasing begins with the very presentation of logos. Well done.
  • The confusions have only begun, because the meaty substance of the form oh-so-subtly introduces a new character to the drama, Primary cardholder. There now exists a distinction between cardholder ("name of cardholder") and Primary cardholder ("last 4 digits of SSN," "date of birth"). Is there any obvious way I can determine whether I am cardholder or Primary cardholder in this drama? Oh hell no! The card doesn't say. The form doesn't say.
  • Fresh from the experience of typing a few dozen characters from the card I was holding and attempting to use, I made a bold leap to the conclusion that "name of cardholder" referred to me. As it turns out, this was the wrong answer, which I discovered only by calling my financial institution (who, again, has nothing to do with this bullshit) and engaging with them in a few rounds of "Read Visa's Mind." You were fishing for Primary cardholder information all along, and as it turns out, I am merely cardholder, not Primary cardholder. The distinction is critically important, I gather, but not so critically important that you could be bothered to present it clearly. That would be gauche, not to mention time-consuming for you.
  • It's worth noting that all of this drama came at the tail-end of an already-long procession of mouse-clicks, form completions, account creations, 'shopping basket' fillings, etc., of the e-commerce itself -- steps I was loath to repeat even for the best of reasons.
  • It's also worth noting that all of this drama came very shortly after I had already taken the necessary steps to validate the Visa card that had been mailed to me. Just exactly how times and in how many ways will I need to prove that the card belongs to me? Whatever that number is, it needs to be smaller.
See you at the soup lines!


Brian Moon said...

Another great detail:

"Your Visa card has been activated in Verified by Visa to help protect against unauthorized use online -- at no additional cost."

At no additional cost to you? To them? Clearly, to them. Because the frustration and confusion is just as much of a cost to you as would be a dollar amount assigned to this (mis-)service.

And they present it as "Good news!" when, in fact, you, the customer, is not able to opt-out and would likely not choose to opt-in in the first place.

Once again, passive voice obscures intentions. Who activated your card in this program (at no additional cost!)? Who? Obviously, they did, unilaterally, and yet they do not wish to make that clear.

Dale said...

Brian, yes. I thought about addressing the 'at no additional charge' garbage but my rant was already full enough.

Apropos nothing you said: I understand about id theft. I want safeguards to be in place vis-a-vis my accounts and personal information. But the risk of id theft is NOT -- I repeat NOT -- an excuse for shitty design or shitty service.