Conversion: EBay, Amazon And PayPal Aren't So Great

February 15, 2007

My daughter complains that I never blog about her. Well, here goes:

I watched her try to buy a Smashing Pumpkins poster. Actually, I wasn’t really watching, I was just doing my work, all snowed in here in Pittsburgh, and listening to her yell at her computer.

First, she tried on Amazon (or more accurately, was led to Amazon at every turn.) “What happened?” she asked. “I just clicked on the button to go to my shopping cart and it says that I bought it, I don’t even know what I paid.” So I went over to her computer, only to see that she had accidentally used Amazon’s 1-click. This would not have been a problem until I pointed out that she had paid as much in freight as she paid for the product. She started to scream (my kids get big allowances every month but have to buy all their own stuff – clothes, gifts, entertainment, so they really care what happens to every dollar.) We went to the FAQs and I showed her how to cancel her order.

“I don’t want to buy it on eBay,” she claimed, “I don’t have money in my PayPal account.” Well, I explained, PayPal no longer requires that you wait 4 days to transfer money in. So she started down the eBay road.

First, she had to register for eBay. Then she clicked through to PayPal, but PayPal insisted that she sign up for their credit card (you have to have really good eyes or use it a lot to notice the “continue without getting a PayPal card” link. Then she couldn’t remember her PayPal password, so they emailed it to her. At that point, she either had no way to get back to her transaction or couldn’t find her transaction. But it didn’t really matter, she was so angry that she was ready to break the computer screen.

So what could everyone have done differently? Well, Amazon’s famous one click may work well for them, I wonder how many customers they alienate. (You can turn it off but you have to know to do so.)

eBay definitely needs to find a way to keep your transaction “live” or in a separate window while you process all their stuff. And PayPal had better be doing one heck of a job signing up credit cards that people are actually using, or they should just get rid of that screen and improve their user experience.

Anyone have a new Smashing Pumpkins poster they want to sell?