I am schooled in the ways of human factors. I know that if your user feels dumb, there is probably something wrong with your system. I know that you should give your user a way to back out of a mistake. I know that most of the “user errors” that cause harm could have been prevented by better design.
I feel dumb.
Here’s my situation: Yesterday, I tried to transfer money from my checking account to my paypal account. It didn’t show up. I poked around and finally noticed the “details” link on the transaction and learned it was going to take 3-5 business days to transfer the money. That wasn’t what I had in mind. I searched for a way to cancel the transaction. No dice.
I called my bank. “Nothing we can do.”
I called paypal. “It takes 3-5 business days. Nothing we can do.”
me: “Why does it take 3-5 business days?”
service rep: “It takes 3-5 business days. Nothing we can do.”
me: “May I talk to your supervisor?”
service rep: “Sure. But she’ll tell you the same thing.”
me: “Ok. I’d like to hear it from someone else.”
service rep’s supervisor: “3-5 business days. Nothing we can do. It’s a process. If you want to complain you can print this form and mail it in.”
me: “You are an online service and you want me to print and mail something?”
service rep’s supervisor: “You could email firstname.lastname@example.org”
me: “Right. That sounds really helpful. Thanks.”
I was kind of huffy at this point and sent out a couple tweets. Then, here’s where I feel really dumb: On the “Add funds by electronic transfer” page in paypal, just above the drop-down and text entry field is this line, “It takes 3-5 business days to electronically transfer funds from your bank account to your PayPal account.”
Ok. You told me. But, I missed it. I’m dumb. And that mistake will cost me 6-10 days without access to my money while it sits in limbo to transfer from my bank to paypal then more limbo when I transfer it back to my bank account.
I get it. Dumb. But, how is it that when I buy my groceries down the road the transaction shows up in my online checking account before I’m home? How is it that when I pay my bills online, the payment is taken out of my account the day that I say I want it taken out of my account and it doesn’t take 3-5 business days for the company I’m paying to receive the payment? How is it that if I make an error in paying someone, I can call my bank and say, “don’t let that one go through?”
Ideally, I’d like a way to stop a process and don’t understand why paypal can’t stop a process that they initiate. (Could someone explain that one to me?)
At a minimum, could they give me some sort of alert message after I click, “submit” that says, “Are you sure? Are you really really sure? Go back and read the terms, dummy.”