This is a cautionary tale for anyone with a job to do. It happens to be about a technical issue, but the same thing could apply to whatever profession occupies your working day. Apply it to any situation where you’re work represents the interests of others, whether you are paid or not. Obviously if you are identified with the mistake it reflects poorly on you, but it may be that no one can identify the culprit. It doesn’t matter. There is still a cost.
It happened yesterday morning. One of the companies we do business with presented me with an offer to get an app for interacting with them on my smart phone. In general I am not afraid to do business online, but I’m a little tentative when it comes to doing it over a wireless connection. However, I suspect the risk is not significant as long as the security is done right, so I decided to try it. After all, this company takes great care with security and my experience with their online services overall has been exceptional. They also do a good job with accessibility so I was curious if the Android offering would be useable.
This time the experience was not so great. First of all, it took too many steps. The Android market can be accessed directly from the computer and apps sent to the phone. There was no need to send me a text message which I had to then access from my phone and click the link. Whether they considered that an additional security measure or just wanted to collect my cell number I can’t say. Had they not added this step, things probably would have worked out. As it was, the process broke down. The link I got in the text message didn’t work. I tried two different browsers just to be sure. Could this be a problem with needing to craft the link differently based on the carrier? Maybe, but that is why developers do testing before they implement. I’m on a major carrier. That’s no excuse.
I never tried the app. I probably could have hunted it down myself in the market, but now my already shaky confidence in the safety of online transactions by wireless is eroded further. At least in the case of this institution, I don’t trust their code. If they can’t even get the download process right, how much care did they take with the app itself? It might be the best app ever, but it might also be full of security holes just waiting for a hacker to exploit, and it would be a tempting target.
That error alone isn’t sufficient to make me consider moving my business elsewhere, but combined with other degradation of service I am seeing, I am wondering if it might be time to move on. I suppose that statement weakens my point. It isn’t just this one problem that may prompt me to terminate my relationship with this company, but it may be the proverbial last straw. So, a simple typo may cost this company a loyal customer of many years. If you are in IT, THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO TEST EVERY PART OF THE PROCESS!