“We changed the logo and now it doesn’t work with Macs”

If you’ve got a Mac and a Barclaycard and like to pay your bill online – say at the My Account page – then sorry, chum, but you’re out of luck.

I tried this morning to pay off my bill, as I have done for the past seven years or so. Kept getting bounced off the server. Strange: sometimes it would nearly go through, but it just wouldn’t quite work. It had always worked in the past.

To the phones and the joys of customer ‘service’ (loosely defined). “We changed the logo, we had to change the logo, and now it doesn’t work on Macs,” said the woman, who sounded as though she’d had to say this a few times quite possibly to annoyed Apple users already. “I can only apologise.” Entirely true – that’s all she could do, though eventually she twigged that I was actually complaining. That is, when she stopped trying to overtalk me.

Changed when? June 14. So one month later it’s still not working. Why not roll back to the previous one which did work cross-platform? “We can’t, we changed the logo.”

This is such a typical and infuriating practice: completely ignore the fact that there are other platforms and other browsers. Just ignore complaints. Eurostar and the Odeon sites are other stupid, nose-cutting-off deny-yourself-business examples.

None of these sites is getting my business while they behave this way. And Barclaycard’s press office is going to get a call very soon. I’m truly annoyed about this.

Update 12:22: A woman – team manager! – from Barclaycard customer service phones up aiming to be ameliorating. “We tested our website very thoroughly.” Yes, including on Macs, she claims. (I’m doubtful.) Strange thing though: when they actually put it up for the outside world, it doesn’t work. On any external Macs. Yes, they have had complaints. Fewer than 100. (Perhaps lots of other Mac-using folk pay by post or phone.) “We now know what is wrong… but we don’t have a date for when it will be fixed.” So what changed? “We removed the old website and we have new images…” Yes, but images aren’t what breaks browsers. What’s different about the new one? What platform is it? What has changed? “We changed the images and …” Could she be specific? Is it ActiveX, Javascript, Java, DHTML, are these words that mean anything to her? “I use Javascript every day,” she says, sounding wounded. I ask her, as nicely as I can manage, to go and ask the internet team to be more specific for this technology writer.
Still waiting meanwhile for the press office to respond to the email I sent them when I first posted. It’s the principle of this more than anything. IE6 and all its inherent flaws, perhaps with a keylogger watching what you type? Welcome to our site! Mac user unaffected by spamware, spyware, adware, viruses? Get the hell out!

Update 13:45: The Register gets an opaque response from the press office. Nicely done, Lucy.

Update 15:07: Bothered the press office, who got back to me. “We upgraded to Netscape 7 which is Windows-only..” No, it isn’t. “Sorry?” Netscape 7 is cross-platform. Or do you mean the server is Netscape 7? “I don’t know, I’m just repeating what the internet people told me. Obviously we’re sorry” (Barclaycard is spending today being sorry; perhaps if they spent more time testing and less being woeful they’d do better) “but we hope to have it fixed in the next, um, in days.” So was it tested on Macs? “Obviously not.” Your customer service people said it was. “Well, they’re only there to serve customer and sell credit cards” – nice admission, that last one – “so of course you can’t hold them to that.” So what is it about Netscape 7? Some argy-bargying now: he clearly doesn’t know, but doesn’t want me to talk to anyone to find out. Mais j’insiste. He goes back to ask the technical department. I go to look at Netcraft’s take on Barclaycard’s Secure Server, which does say it’s Netscape being the server. How crap that the company that brought the Web to the world (Netscape, not Netcraft) should mess up my day like this.

Update (final) 15:58: Another long chat with the press office. “We don’t know why it’s not working at the moment. The reason we don’t know is that we didn’t test it.” So customer services was fibbing. “Because we don’t consciously support Macs.. it’s never been a problem in the past when we’ve updated, but now we’ve got this problem. But we don’t build our site for Macs. It’s a phenomenally small percentage of our online users, just over 1%.” I see. How much were Barclaycard’s profits last year? “Umm. 740 million pounds.” Of which one per cent would be 7.4 million pounds, hmm? “That’s a bit unfair, it’s 1% of online. And does it make sense for us to devote huge amounts of effort to developing for such a tiny percentage? We will throw resources at this” – an empty promise if I ever heard one, but now it’s committed to the Web – “and they know about it and are working on it.” So when did they find out? “Why do you want to know?” Facts – they’re the grist of the journalistic mill. More shilly-shallying. He doesn’t want to tell me. OK, I say, I’ll assume you found out the day after you changed, yet haven’t found the time to put a note on the site explaining that it no longer works for Mac users. “Oh, notes on websites confuse people.” What, something saying it doesn’t work on Macs would confuse Windows users? “….They were notified last week and have been working flat-out on it” – another fib, I suspect – “since then.”

Look, Barclaycard: you could have saved yourself and me so much annoyance and money by just getting one of the graphics artists who drew the new (and completely pointless) logos to try the site. They’d have told you in a breath that it didn’t work.

It’s stuff like this that makes you realise that financial institutions believe we’re all idiots. They lie; they dissemble; they cover up; and they don’t spent money responsibly, because it’ll cost them more to fix this than it would have to get it right in the first place. I’ll return to the site to test it (perhaps I’ll stir myself to set up a “days since the Barclaycard site worked” counter for the sidebar). But in the meantime I’ll use their phone service, which costs *them* more than if I did the transaction through the website. And that, you Barclaycard fools, is why it’s worth writing your website to work with the other 1% – because automation is cheaper for you *and* me.

Oh, and the final irony: at 16:14 the woman from customer services calls back. “I’m afraid the IT department still haven’t got back to me, so I can’t tell you any more at present. I’m sorry.” I thank her and ring off.

7 Comments

  1. On the general subject of testing, compliance, validation etc.: –
    Please could you fix your feed so it validates correctly.
    I think you used some dodgy quote characters in the iTunes story.
    See http://feedvalidator.org/check?url=https://www.charlesarthur.com/blog/wp-rss2.php
    I (and many others) won’t be receiving you until this is resolved.
    Thanks, and keep the good stuff coming!

  2. Touche. (I won’t try the acute accent.) It’s the English pound sign. Curse you, ASCII!
    OK, I’ve now updated all FOUR errors. Good grief! That’s 99.997% of the content correct! It’s good enough for Barclaycard…

  3. Could be a cookie related problem from the popup message I got when I went to the Barkleycard page. You might try using OmniWeb 5 (http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omniweb/5/beta/) with compatibility spoofing set to “Netscape 7” for that site (Omniweb 5 allows per-site spoofing). Of course even if it does work that doesn’t make up for the fact that the bank should have tested it’s site on the Mac!

  4. Very annoying that these sites that don’t work. I’m not a web developer, but I use all kinds of e-commerce sights on a daily basis and they all pretty much work without any problems. Opodo and Odeon are the two biggest offenders in my book!

    Funny enough, Barclay iBank online banking works just fine. BarclayCard was alway too slow for me for some reason in Safari. It worked alright in FireFox though. Hmmm. Just my thoughts. Funny enough, I was talking to a Mac user on the Stansted Express not too long ago who was complaining about her bank not supporting Macs. I told her to switch to Barclays!

  5. One of the problems is that most ‘IT/IS’ people are brain washed to only know M$ and windoze. God forbid that you ask them to test in any browser other than IE, let along the possiblility that another OS exist. If you want to blame some one blame the ‘schools’ that produce these ‘techies’.

  6. One point extra to make about the “1 per cent” argument for Macs. You assume (for simplicity’s sake) that 1 per cent of trade with Mac users translates proportionately to one per cent of profits at barcleycard. However, this ignores the Macintosh user demographic – which is heavily skewed towards “more affluent users” –

    http://www.medialifemagazine.com/news2002/jul02/jul22/1_mon/news4monday.html

    Thereofe, our little muppet at barclaycard has ignored something rather important for a bank like Barclays….

    Mac users have got proportionately more money than Windows users!!

    Though this wouldn’t matter a jot to a simple retail store, I’m sure the powers that be at a money business like Barclays might have something to say about locking out affluent customers?

  7. The Mac user would have more money than the Windows users, if only they hadn’t spent all their cash on a Mac ;)

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