Wednesday, 15 December 2010

My MP3 complaint to Tesco Entertainment

Dear Technology People Still Stuck In The 1990s,

I've shopped at tescoentertainment.com to get an MP3 for the first time. It's an experience I'd compare to touching an electric fence - you're curious but you'd never try it again.

What I have seen tonight has been astonishingly shocking. I've bought MP3s from many websites, and always found the process quite easy. This evening my jaw dropped lower than the dignity of an ITV2 reality television star, because your download process has to be the most backward and needlessly complex system I've seen. I've worked in computing for 20 years, I've issued guidelines on usability and have designed ecommerce systems from the groun up, and frankly, whoever designed your diabolical user-torturing system shouldn't be trusted with an abacus.

I understand the need to record an email address, password, credit card details and billing address. I don't understand why you enforce us to install a separate program to download the MP3s. One that insists on us using Windows, so it's a good job I wasn't using my iMac or a Linux partition at the time. It also wants Microsoft's laughably-bad Silverlight platform on our PCs, along with .NET framework 3.5. What's wrong with simply delivering the MP3 through my web browser? That's what it is made for, and other MP3 vendors do exactly that.

The amount of mouse-clicks I've had to do to get my download would instigate RSI in a caffeine-swilling woodpecker. The time taken to obtain this 8.57 MB file - despite being on a ~5Mbps broadband connection - is needlessly long thanks to your ridiculous end-user software demands. Quite frankly, I reckon I'd have done a direct download of the file off a 33.6kps dial-up modem in half the time.

Is there any need for a company in the 21st Century to act with such disrespect for tech-savvy customers? I battled my way through this because I'm fairly proficient with computers, but I fear the average customer would simply give up. You're not exactly going to keep Steve Jobs awake at night with your clumsy cumbersome MP3 store.

I have seen another Internet service doggedly insist on its users having separate programs and a razor-thin choice of operating systems. It was AOL, and that was in 1996. These days they exist as a punchline to a joke.

Sort yourselves out.

Peter Thomas.