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Getting feedback to website coders

Posted by richunger on November 10, 2006 at 12:28 PM PST

As a software developer who has... you know... users, I like to gather as much user feedback as possible. Thus, when I'm on the other side of the fence, I try to give helpful, specific feedback to coders of websites that I frequent. Sometimes, however, the levels of bureaucracy between me and them makes this difficult. It's probably something the business community should do something about.

Here's an example:

I went to citibank's credit card site, because I have a cashback card with them and I want to get a refund check. Unfortunately, they have a limit of $300 per year that you can get, and if you've used their card enough to earn more than that, you aren't allowed to get any check at all through the website. Instead, you get the error message:

We are unable to process your request at this time. Either your total accumulated cash back rebate balance does not qualify for a check, or your request cannot be completed online. If you have any questions, please call the Cash Back Redemption Line at ^=dividendRedemptionNumber^

First of all, there's a lazy, but intentional limitation that forces me to waste my time and the time of one of their phone agents to issue a check that the website should be perfectly capable of doing. Secondly, they can't even tell me the phone number because of a simple coding error that didn't get caught in their QA cycle.

So, I took care of my business over the phone (by calling the number on the back of my credit card), and then I sent them a message through their "Contact Us" link:


When I attempt to redeem a reward, and my reward balance is over $300, I get: We are unable to process your request at this time. Either your total accumulated cash back rebate balance does not qualify for a check, or your request cannot be completed online. If you have any questions, please call the Cash Back Redemption Line at ^=dividendRedemptionNumber^.

I can't dial ^=dividendRedemptionNumber^ :)

Here I am, just trying to make it easier on the next guy, and save Citibank a little money in their call center.

The reply was quick and polite, and clearly done by a human. These are all good traits of a customer service organization. However, they get it spectacularly wrong:


We apologize for any inconvenience.

Our records currently indicate that your rewards check request was processed on 11/10/2006. Your request cannot be processed a second time. Please allow 7-10 days to receive the check.

Thank you for using our website.

Somehow, I doubt the bug report got filed in their internal issue tracker for the website developers.

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