I had a morning of sorting out bills, cause I really really needed to pay my car registration. I failed. Here is why.
First of all I went to https://transact.landtransport.govt.nz/
I selected the option to relicense my vehicle.
I complete the 3 step process of entering details and paying, and then after the “processing your payment, please wait” bit on the credit card payment screen (payment screens hosted by Westpac and Dialect). BAM I got this.
Note in the top right hand corner:
There is no merchant name. Comforting.
Also the broken nature of this page in general, with the text all over the place and strange red “x”s. This is a payment page for a friken government department! Hosted by Westpac! This gives me the heebeegeebees to be quite honest. So I tried it again, and got the same obscure error, and so I rang the call centre, to:
- tell them they have a problem
- check to make sure I haven’t paid twice for my car reg
- pay for my car reg.
I get hold of Jane in the call centre but she cant help me because I can not answer the 10th identity question. I have established who I am, the car rego, date of birth, and trying to establish my address, but I am not giving the correct address, so she cant help. I have got the house number correct, I have the street correct, RD1 okay, post code is correct, but they don’t have Kerikeri as my town. So Jane wont help me. “Do you get your mail?” she asks.
So I have to play Guess-the-address to figure out what town or city they have on record. After a few minutes, I guess Northland. Horray, Jane can help me now as I am obviously not an identity criminal trying to pay for someone else’s car reg.
Phew, so I proceed to tell Jane about the problem they are having with their payment page. She checks to see if the payment has gone through, and luckily it hasn’t. But the broken payment screen seems to be my problem, not their problem, so I get to talk to a supervisor, and give him the run down on what is broken on their site. At this point I have resigned to the fact that I am going to have to go to the post office to sort my registration, so I am only still on the phone trying to help them out, as a tax payer I would like Land Transport to efficiently collect the taxes. I even have screen shots of the error pages, but no one wants them. “Do you have cookies enabled?” Yes I have cookies enabled. “You didn’t take too long entering in the details?” No!
“Can I email you the screen shots of the error page?” I ask
“Hmmmmm, no. Are you using Internet Explorer?”
“No I am on a Mac and using Firefox”
“Ahh. Sorry you can’t pay online with Firefox, we only support Internet Explorer 6 and above” WTF!
So here is what is wrong with that:
- Internet Explorer 6 is 8 years old. It is good supporting legacy browsers (cause that is what IE6 is), but only supporting IE or better?
- Internet Explorer accounts for 67.40% of the user share of browsers today, that means everything else is 32.60%. That is a third of all users that are not supported.
- Internet Explorer is trending down in the browser stats. In the third quarter of 2008 IE was 72.22%, so it has dropped a total market share of 4.8% in six months, and like I said, this is a clear trend so it will keep dropping.
- If you are only going to support only one browser TELL THE USER AT THE START of the process. Why let the user go through steps 1 through 3 at all. You can easily detect the browser in use, and alert the user that they need to downgrade their browser in order to pay online.
So if this is true, then Land Transport and Westpac are failing at an epic level. I hope it is not true, and I hope Dialect are just having a bad payment processing day and just need to sort out their error messages. But there seems to still be a lot of online services that only support IE, and Wespac themselves seem to be a big fan of it. I can’t use their corporate online without IE. I think it is time some of these online services take a look at how they are not transacting online.
Oh well off to the post office.
@benkepes tells me via twitter he earlier this week paid for his reg using Firefox. So why does the call centre tell people only IE is supported? Perhaps it is the standard “you are using a browser and computer we dont understand” escape hatch?
Well on return from a very nice stroll to the post office, I find an email from firstname.lastname@example.org
I also note you called our Contact Centre today regarding the online problems you were experiencing and were advised that Firefox is not currently supported by the Transaction Centre or POLi payment. I can confirm this information is correct.
Contact Response Team
So the policy is to not support Firefox. However I am getting mixed info from people some saying that they can pay online with non-IE browsers, and some can not (perhaps a Mac flavour vs PC flavour thing), however it is obviously policy not to support Firefox at least, but it may not prevent some things being “technically” achieved, if you are lucky.
I have also been reminded by a few people of the horrible online toll payment system (also LTNZ) where to pay by internet banking(?), you need IE and an ActiveX control (note: this is just internet banking, not credit card processing. You can pay by credit card fine if you can find your way through the user interface). I always thought internet banking was something you did with your bank via your banks website? Why do you need to download software that only runs on a PC (note: you can get the ActiveX control to run in another browser using various 3rd party tools, but this may not work and is unsupported)?
Then I found this at http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/transaction-centre/index.html
It is designed to perform best with Microsoft Internet Explorer (up to version 6.0 ) or Netscape (up to version 6.2 ). Other types of browser are not currently supported.
Now when it comes to taking money from customers, I would have thought the first rule would be to have as few barriers in the way that would prevent them from giving it to you. So eliminating one third of the total browser market is not a wise idea. Sure, the majority of that third are windows users, and can fire up IE should they need to. But they choose not to use IE. Plus, they only support up to IE 6. Not 7, not 8. I am beginning to suspect that the policy is outdated, and it possibly suits them that way.
I could be missing something here but there are no technical limitations preventing any other mainstream browser from processing financial transactions online. So why make the concious decision not to support every mainstream browser?
Well I have been trying to pay the road toll, on my prepay account, for a recent trip to Auckland via LTNZ’s toll site to no avail. The service has been taken offline due to technical problems. This morning I learn that the service has been taken down due to a glitch where prepay customers were being charged up to 20 times per trip. Hundreds of thousands of dollars was debited that should not have been. No no no no no! This is no way to earn the trust of the public, who are probably not overly entusiastic about a toll road to start with. Not to mention all the other things wrong with the toll road payment systems, and the website itself. LTNZ seem to be dropping the ball both with policy and execution of their online systems in general.