Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Postal Service

518 words

Our local postal service, Deutsche Post, is reasonably good. At least I hadn’t had major problems with them yet. Letters within Germany usually arrive the next day, and sometimes the speed of the postal service and the lucky fact that amazon’s warehouses don’t seem to be too far away from here, mean that you can order something and free shipping gets it to your door in less than 24 hours with a bit of luck.

What is quite horrible about the postal service, though, is their website. Time after time I find it excruciatingly difficult to fool it into telling me things like the shipping costs for a letter or a parcel. Shouldn’t that be the information that is most frequently accessed on their site? And shouldn’t it be accessible within an easy click or two? At least I thought so, but whoever designed their website didn’t.

Similarly, at some stage they bought DHL and merged their parcel handling with them. Or something like that. The fact is, I couldn’t care less which company logo actually handles the stuff and whose managers reward themselves with my money. I still drop parcels at the post office and the van bringing parcel to my place is still yellow but has a different logo now. But – of course – if you want to know shipping costs for a parcel, the Deutsche Post website, will clutter your screen with a new window for the DHL website.

That site, in turn, looks pretty much the same as that of the normal postal service – just with a different logo on it. And of course with equally well hidden information. The only thing I could find fairly easily was their parcel tracking feature (apparently there’s no Dashboard widget for that yet – I thought I should make one but just thinking about JavaScript gave me the creeps). But even that they spoiled.

As they are such a wonderfully large company it turns out that you can send six kinds of different products with them: Parcel shipment, Express Paket national, Express Paket international, DHL-Freight and DHL Europlus / DHL Europack. And you have to pick one of those (possibly using the handy example numbers they give you to decide which one you need by looking at the number you have) - which in turn opens yet another window leading you to a different form for entering the tracking number and possibly some authentification info.

Of course my idea of a good form would have been a solution where you could just pop in a number in a single field there and leave it to the computers to figure out which service is needed and add some additional fields for authentification if needed. I guess that would mean some extra work for their web developers but it’d be user friendly or something at least. But instead their web developers are kept busy by having to keep two distinct hard-to-navigate site alive and having a funny Printview button on each page. What do I know, though.

Bah! – to quote Dogbert.

November 24, 2006, 0:15

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