Inaccessible Website Service – Tch tch tch!
My windsurf equipment insurance was due for renewal last week.
I’ve been with the same company for many years and renew it every year, and this year was no different. The e-mail I get from them asks me to renew online and as usual when i try to do so their system refuses to work with anything other than Internet Explorer on a Windows PC. Being a sensible person I use Firefox on a Mac and therefore I can’t renew online so I usually phone them up and do it on the phone. A minor inconvenience and one that they really should address as more and more people are moving to Macs and fewer and fewer people use Internet Explorer as their browser of choice.
This year I phoned them up and apparently they won’t accept renewals over the phone any more. After 10 years of dealing with them my only option was to use a PC and Internet Explorer or not renew my insurance! Of course, I could do it from my PC but that’s not the point and many people wouldn’t have access to such a system. What sort of company decides to only allow web-based interaction, but then excludes a fairly large percentage of their customers by restricting access to their system based on the hardware and software that their customers have?
Its ridiculous, there is no need for it and if anything they should be encouraging people NOT to use Internet Explorer as other browsers and operating systems are more secure. Restricting your customer base by only allowing access to those with a particular system is just short-sighted. There is no technical reason for it. At best it loses the company lots of customers, at worst it annoys existing customers like me. In fact, it could even be considered illegal under the disabilities discrimination act as they have made no attempt to make their services accessible to all.
Of course, I didn’t just let it go, I asked to speak to a manager as I thought I would give them a little lecture on web-accessibility, customer service and the importance of making sure your website is accessible to all, especially when running a web-based business. In fact I was quite looking forward to my ‘discussion’ with the manager – You never know, I may have got some web-consultancy work out of i! As it happens though apparently they ‘couldn’t find’ a manager but had been given permission to allow me to renew on the phone!