Sunday, May 09, 2004

The 24hour web myth

It's time to research car insurance again. This time I'm trying the AA which, overall, I think has a great website. One foible and one very strange feature though. The foible is that, early on, it says "type your email address in if you DO wish" to hear from AA and related companies about products and services. So - easy decision - type your email if you want spam, don't if you don't. A bit later, under data protection it says "the AA may want to contact you blah blah", tick this box if you "DO NOT" want to be contacted by the AA or related companies. Trying to catch me out? Poor design? Inconsistent use? Or legislative wording in the latter and customer friendly in the former? I'm not sure. But the very strange feature really got me. I spent a good 20 mins going through their online form, answering all kinds of questions, e.g. what do you do? (Interestingly, the first possible response is an abbatoir worker - the joys of an alphabetic sort!). At the end, it gives me a long and complicated reference number which I wrote down and then advanced a page. I then realised I wanted to check something, so I used the back button, but the page had cleared. no problem, I'll just retrieve the quote using my quote number. Uhoh: "The Retrieve My Quote service is available between the following hours:- Monday 07:30 am - 09:30 pm Tuesday 07:30 am - 09:30 pm Wednesday 07:30 am - 09:30 pm Thursday 07:30 am - 09:30 pm Friday 07:30 am - 09:30 pm Saturday 08:00 am - 06:30 pm Sunday 08:00 am - 05:30 pm During these hours you can retrieve your saved Car Insurance Quote on-line, amend the details and when you are completely satisfied pay for your policy on-line." Why on earth would it not be possible to check a quote on a Sunday evening? Do the disk drives allow write-only after 5.30? The 24hour web is a myth for many businesses.

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