Posted on Sunday 25 April 2010


I have been using Linkedin for awhile now and recently haven’t had the success that I was looking for, something is missing and I can’t put my finger on what it is. I am currently subscribed as a “business account” which is one step up from the free personal account. I wanted to edit my account and downgrade to the free personal as I don’t wish to completely leave the network.

To my surprise there doesn’t seem to be a quick way to do this…. sure, if you want to upgrade your account the fine people at Linkedin are happy to provide you with a simple button to click to go right to billing you for an upgrade. Mysteriously or not so, there is no account control to change or downgrade your account type.

This type of problem is often perceived by the user as their inability to navigate to the right area, but not providing a simple path to complete control really seems to be a way for a company to make change hard for the user in the hopes of dissuading the customer/user from changing at all. The only path to this type of change is an email form to submit a request. AN EMAIL FORM! I find it hard to think that this is an oversight or bad design by the UX people at Linkedin, but simply a strategy by management to squeeze out a few more billing cycles from their customers.

This type of thing is maddening because life is busy enough that this issue shouldn’t be weighing on my mind at all…

So I have given Linked in one hour before I close my account completely. I don’t like being stalled by intentional roadblocks to my control of my account. Give your users an honest transparency to controls and a fast and responsive mechanism and they won’t feel like a desperate company is holding on to their dollars. In this economy change should be easy as dollars are precious.

flashicon @ 6:31 pm
Filed under: SoapBox
Zipity doo dah

Posted on Monday 1 March 2010

My wife and I have been using Zipcar for several months now and are satisfied with the value it presents in the city for “wheels when we need them”. I spent a sizable amount of time thinking about parking in the city and the problems that cars present for a thesis project and I am not going to talk about the benefits of Zipcar today. A car sharing service is highly commendable and more things should be shared if possible, especially in the urban environment.

My gripe with Zipcar comes from the way that their web materials present the working agreement and distort the actual rules in the name of cuteness and psuedo-simplicity. Web writers, marketing professionals and managers want to tell us how simple their service is and that is fine, until the actual understanding of an agreement is clouded or misrepresented by a flip graphic with a short paragraph.

Look at the picture above of the Zipcar graphic extolling the ease at which you can reserve a car. In the beginning the paragraph states “Your Zipcard will only open the car you’ve reserved during the time you’ve reserved it…” Actually that is NOT true. In another section of the agreement Zipcar states that you may open the car as much as 15 – 30 minutes ahead of time and pay for that additional time on top of your reserved time.

The original graphic gives the impression that your card is smart enough to know best, if you happen to approach your car at 15 minutes before the time it is happy to unlock and bill you for a full half an hour! I contacted a Zipcar representative about this discrepancy any they didn’t seem to understand the problem as the wording remains the same. At the very least, why not put in a asterisk to allude to the other details of the agreement.

The use of an asterisk is probably a dirty word to flip/hip marketing types as it is often associated with extended legal mumbo jumbo. Zipcar seems to be comfortable with vagueness in its terms. Understanding of the full terms can be born out by customer cost, it’s OK to let the customer be charged for the extra time as long as their initial impression was that Zipcar is so easy. Often in our experiences with products and services we blame ourselves for not getting the details right, after all we should read all fine print completely before using anything. The mark of a thoughtful company is to examine the feedback of their products and services to look for any vagaries in the consumers understanding.

I’m not sure that Zipcar is open to examining themselves… after all, it all is so simple right?

flashicon @ 6:19 pm
Filed under: SoapBox