The costs of poor usability

Today, I am going to share with you a little story about the costs of poor usability.  Imagine if you will, that you are going to do the annual renewal for your website.  It looks like there might be some alternate lower cost, better feature options available from the vendor now.  However, you can't see them because you aren't allowed to "change plan" when you have a balance due.

The screw up

Here's where it gets interesting.  So, you think, well I'll just "cancel" this pending charge over here on the billing page.  Okay, some generic message about deleting a file or other.  Not super clear.  Okay, click go.  (You're not too worried because there is a different cancel site feature on the website control panel.)  Now you try and go back to your website control panel and look at the other plans.  Well, it keeps having some sort of unspecified error.  Then your domain email disappears.  Oh noes!  The cancel button on the billing page, actually blew away your entire domain!

The recovery

So, I was able to get in touch with technical support via an 800 number.  Not too bad a hold time since it was the middle of the night.  He worked with me and we got the website back up.  Good thing I had a full local instance of it, because they didn't have anything.  They had immediately deleted the full site, logs and backups!  I had to go through and manually recreate email accounts.  But then I had to wait for users to "activate" their accounts before I could restore their email from the vendors back ups.  This entailed about two hours of hold time the following day with less than 30 minutes additional time needed to talk with a tech to finish restoring the email.

The costs

All told, the cost to me ended up being about 2 hours and 15 minutes of hold time and I'm thinking less than 90 minutes of tech time.  (I'll try not to dwell on the being on hold for 30 minutes and then having the call dropped.) As a side impact of this was a lost day of productivity.

The vendor took the hit of paying for an 800 number line for almost 4 hours!  Then there was the hit for the tech time of about 2 hours.  That's a lot of money.

Domain users panicked.  Will I ever get all of those hundreds of emails back?  Will that important email I've been waiting for come in while we're down?  They had to spend some time activating their account and waiting for their email box to be restored.


Poor usability costs everyone.  Imagine if there had been a very clear warning along the lines of "hey, this operation will DESTROY YOUR ENTIRE DOMAIN!"  Then followed up with a confirmation email or text?  (I mean we do that for subscribing to an email list.  So, it seems like that would be a legit thing to do for canceling an entire domain.)  I think a lot of lost time, spent money and pain could have been avoided with better usability.