Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3 MiFi topup fail

One of the devices I have to keep me and my devices connected to the Internet is a MiFi unit (portable access point) for (UK network) 3.
I don't use it very often but sometimes I can't use Wi-Fi or Internet sharing from another device. Today was one of those times so I got out the unit and, as I have it on PAYG (because I don't use it enough to justify a contract) I attempted to top up.

I turned on the MiFi unit and paired with a device, a Nokia Lumia 620. All good so far, then I opened the browser to be automatically redirected to the top up site.

1st problem - I was given the full site, as I'd expect on a PC or other large screen device. This meant I had to wait ages for the page to download (over HSDPA) and render on a device which wasn't suited to displaying all that content and wasn't related to the task I was trying to achieve.

2nd problem - I had to go through lots of unnecessary steps/pages to achieve what I wanted. The page I was initially taken to had what looked like 4 big buttons for each of the available top up options. The only problem was they weren't buttons - just images. There was actually a text link to top up but I had to zoom into the page to see it. Clicking the "I want to top up" link redirected me to the account overview page. From there I had to click another I want to top up link. This took me to a page that provided a drop down list for each of the top up options. Selecting from this list caused the page to reload. There were then separate pages for selecting to use my preconfigured credit card and entering the card security code (CVV number). This finally led to another page for...

3rd problem - the 3D secure step in the payment process tried to open a page which had a mime type or other content that the phone couldn't display and so prompted me to visit the store to download an app to view the content. Of course, the problem here is that I couldn't connect to the store as I had no Internet connection. Even if I could connect to the store I doubt my credit card provider has an app that could allow me to complete the in browser transaction. In fact I don't just doubt it - I know it's not possible, at least not without having some Microsoft implemented changes to the browser and as the bank and card provider have nothing in the way of apps in the windows phone store, what are the chances that Microsoft have built something into the OS for them?

Ok, that's a partial HSBC/MasterCard and Microsoft/Internet Explorer failure but still, it's left me a very frustrated and disappointed customer. :(

I ended up getting out my iPad to top up.

So, rather than just moan about the situation, what can we learn from it?

  1. Be smart about the content you serve to devices. Especially ones with small screens.
  2. Remove unnecessary steps, page reloads and redirects from processes. Especially sign up and payment processes.
  3. Provide, simple, easily identifiable short cuts to do often repeated tasks.

Yes these are all obvious and often repeated recommendations. I hope by repeating them again here it'll help someone remember them next time it's appropriate.


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