Shahzad Bhatti Welcome to my ramblings and rants!

May 7, 2008

How not to handle errors for an Ecommerce site!

Filed under: Computing — admin @ 5:36 pm

I have been reading and hearing a great deal about Scala language, which is an object-oriented and functional hybrid language and is implemented on JVM and CLR. So, I decided to buy the only book available from Artima. I had been a long subscriber of Artima, so when I ordered I logged in and entered my credit card information. However when I hit enter, I got page with cryptic error message. This was not what I expected. I hoped to get a link to the book, instead I had no idea what happened. Worst, there was no indication on what to do or who to contact. I found a phone number from the website, but when I called the number, the phone company told me that it was disconnected. The only email I could find from the site was for webmaster, so I emailed webmaster and explained what happened. But, webmaster didn’t get back. I knew Bill Venners ran the site, so I searched the site for his email and finally got his email from google. I emailed Bill and explained the situation. Bill was quick to respond and I finally got the link to the ebook within half hour. Though, Bill explained that the bug was not common and they have very high standards for testing. But, I was aggravated by the way errors were handled without giving any clues to the customer. Clearly, building a site that handles credit cards require higher standards. In case of errors when performing transaction, I expect a clear message what went wrong, whether my credit card was charged (which was charged in my case), and some kind of contact page, email address, IM/chat or a phone number. I also like email confirmation that you generally get from ecommerce sites after the transaction.
In the end, I was glad to get the PDF for the book. I am finding Scala is a really cool language with features from a number of languages like Lisp, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Haskell, Erlang, ML, etc. Most of all, it takes advantage of Java’s Ecosystem that has tons of libraries and tools.

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