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Thursday, February 28, 2008

No excuse for using misleading message.

There are two major share registrar companies in Australia, namely ComputerShare or LinkMarketServices. The former one is well built and its reports are comprehensive but I can't say too much of the latter, which is the theme of this topic.

If you want an example of a commercial enterprise hell-bend on misleading their customers, you need not go any further.

The Link updates its system during time when people in the Eastern Seaboard (about 11pm EST) are still up and definitely those on the Western Seaboard are just finishing off their dinner. During its updates, it has no visible sign to inform the user that it is doing an update and that the system is running with reduced capability. Perhaps the developers are too lazy to deal with error message properly. The update time is not published in their web site prominently.

Worse still as you will see, they are using totally misleading message to tell the user that he/she cannot access the data. Wouldn't a phrase like "System in Maintenance Mode. Features unavailable"? Instead this is what they throw up:

This is after they let you successfully logged into your account and when you click on one of the shares in your portfolio. This is a very dangerous messages. It could indicate system data corruption because you are being informed that the share you have selected has incorrect information. Who change this between now and several hours ago, where you could view the materials? What should the user do?

When I first encountered this message, I was about to delete the share and to re-enter.

You get the same message when you enter a new one. Hence you do not know if the details in the one that you've just entered are truly invalid or because the system developers too damn lazy to inform the users appropriately that the maintenance is in progress.

Perhaps the code in this system is in a mess and that exception handling is left to chance rather than methodologically dealt with.

Misleading users is just another form of bugs in the system. Link has updated its web site recently but apart from the sugar-lolly coating, it is still primitive and buggy underneath. The small consolation is that instead of misleading user with the session times out etc, it is now giving me a much shorter and equally misleading message.

Why software users have to put up with this kind of sloppiness and buggy rubbish. Is it trying to project a 24X7 operation but only skin deep?

As a comparison with ComputerShare, I have yet to be misled. This shows that a good share registrar web site without misleading the user is possible.

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