journal Life as a (Web-) Developer :: I Bet it is..

Published → Thursday, March 30, 2017 8:22 PM

Computers & software are everywhere. Sometimes I think they replicate each year, more and more single use apps; yet another upgrade and features. But this post is not about that. No. It’s not even an “can you fix this” rant. No. This one is about what happens more then it should when I want to buy something and something goes wrong with the computer.

I bought a shiny new bike. It was a custom order, so I had to place it by phone and had a nice experience overall – no issues here: they would deliver the bike to the store where I could go pick it up after they did stuff with it. I only had to pay a deposit – the restorno would be payed on pickup. Sweet!

Today I got the call that my bike was ready! Arriving at the store they told my how to take care of my bike and how everything worked. They took a long time to explain everything – rewarding me as it where to come and pickup during the low hours. I wanted a few extra things. Got very good advice and help with choosing. This was an excellent experience!

Anyway it’s getting late, more and more people are arriving and its to time to go.. lets pay. A new bike expensive. In Belgium we pay with debit cards. These cards have a limit. Banks use some kind of formula .. anyway in short: you are never really sure if you’ll be able to pay a high amount – all you can do is.. hope.

The salesman enters everything in the computer. He says “wow this rings up less than its priced”, “wow and this as well! must be your lucky day!”. Me = happy! But after the x-th item we realise there must be something wrong.  He asks his boss to come over. In the meanwhile he talks about an interesting insurance package and maintenance they have. I recognized the tactics, smiled  and complimented him silently – you know with your inner voice? The offer was good though, so he got his sale.

The manager comes over. The salesman tell him what is going on and he is a bit embarrassed by the whole thing. He calls someone. During all this more and more people are coming in, some are complaining. It’s busy. Hearing them on the phone sounded awfly familiar: both parties are talking next to each other. The support person is trying to grasp the problem (imho failing somewhat) and the manager is trying his best to ignore all the people, his embarrassment and answering questions of his staff. I tell him it’s ok. I’m in IT – a developer – myself and I know how things are not always going as it should.

Can you print it? maybe the error is only on your screen. He prints a receipt so I can take a look at it while he is still talking on the phone. Looks like the software hasn’t added the VAT to the items. A quick check confirms this. I tell him this. A bit relieved he tells the support person this (and who I am).

It still took a while for them to get to the point of “welp this is a bug, you’ll have to re-enter the _entire_ order”. He told me that when entering a new customer with a VAT number, you get a screen to show or hide the VAT-inc prices for this customer. This was set to “hide” for my new account and couldn’t be changed.

Let that sink in for a moment:

  • The software has a setting to hide the btw-included-prices (fine)
  • This setting can only be set once when creating a new customer (maybe there is a reason for it?)
  • The receipt was fine = each article listed with btw-ex, summary below of the different btw percentages, .. just like the law and accountants like it! (your thinking this is what that setting really does – but not really wait for it..)
  • The store is in Belgium. I have a Belgian company. We are required by law to pay the VAT when buying stuff from other Belgian companies. (True, I can get the VAT reiembursed; but that has nothing to do with the store. A official valid invoice is all what is need)
  • The store needs the total amount (tax included) for the bike insurance
  • As a customer I don’t have to interact with their software (so why hide the BTW on their screens? they need to see it!)
  • Manager says these things happen a lot. They get daily updates — but.
  • I didn’t time the whole thing. But it was a fair chunk of it.

It’s at times like this I curse and like what I do. True I didn’t have to tell nor say anything – but the urge to help is to great most times. A bit selfish to: I wanted to pay and gtf out of there! I had plans! It also makes me a bit sad. Sad that these basic ux/ui errors are still made – and sad that this just makes people hate computer more and more. I don’t blame them – but I long for a more frustration free world. A world where things matter.

Ps: the bike is great!