Hi, this is my first post on mycomputerninja.com, so be sweet.
Without really getting in to the details, I work at a company that has a website. We deal with insurance companies, banks and mortgage companies. Sometimes I have to help customers log in to our website so they can place orders for various risk assessment purposes.
Here’s how it usually goes down:
Customer – “I need to place an order.”
Me – “Well, we can’t accept orders over the phone, but I can help you log in to the website where you can place the order. If you go to websiteaddress.com, I can help you log in.”
Customer – “Ok, fine. God, I really just want to do this over the phone. Come on, just take this one over the phone please. I really need this right now. I’ll order the next one online.”
Me – “I’m sorry, but we can’t accept orders over the phone. If you go to websiteaddress.com I can help you log in.”
(obviously this is not the real website address, but you get the idea.)
Customer – “But I called in yesterday and the lady took the order over the phone! I need this RIGHT NOW!”
Me – “Well, she really shouldn’t have placed the order. If you go to websiteaddress.com, I can help you log in.”
Customer – “Ok . . . (30 seconds later) What was the website again?” (Please note that I have already told them the address three times.)
Me – “websiteaddress.com”
Customer – “(talking to themselves and sounding like they are struggling) www.website.what?”
Me – “websiteaddress.com”
Customer – “How do I get there?!”
Me – (Thinking – How can a person not know how to get to a website.
That’s like telling someone to change the channel to HBO and them saying “YEAH, BUT HOW DO I GET THERE?!”)
“Well, you just have to type the address in the URL field of your browser.”
Customer – “Ok: double you, double you, double you – dot – website address – dot com?”
Me – “Well, that’s correct, but you don’t need the W’s, so you can just type – websiteaddress.com.”
Customer – (Not even registering my last comment) Ok, I’m getting a couple of matches, WHICH ONE IS IT?!!!!”
Me – “. . . What do you mean a couple of matches?”
And then I realize that, against all logic, this person is searching for the address with a search engine instead of typing the URL in to the URL field and actually going to the website itself. And I haven’t confirmed this yet, but they probably use DogPile or AOL Keyword, or Alta Vista or Map Quest or any number of search engines that only very old people use. And believe me, after dealing with these people, I would not put it past them to try Map Quest.
This is not a one-time occurrence. This happens everyday. These people have jobs in an office. They sit at a desk with a computer. The use the computer everyday, and they have no idea how to go to a website.
Please take a moment and think about that. I speak with dozens of people a week who work in pretty important positions, and they have no idea how to go directly to a website. Most of them don’t even know the difference between an email address and a website address. Sometimes when I tell a customer to go to websiteaddress.com, they ask, “so I go to my email and send the order to websiteaddress.com?”
And then there is the classic response from May 2006, which I will never, ever forget:
Customer – “Can you email me my username and password?”
Me – “Ok, what is your email address.”
Customer – “Kate.com”
I’ve talked to maybe 15 people over the last year who honestly don’t know the difference between an email address and a website address. They can’t tell the difference between Outlook and Internet Explorer. They don’t know what a browser is, and if you told them that they needed to “type the URL in your browser, not your email client,” I’m sure their faces would melt off.
And yet, these are the people who write your home owner’s insurance and underwrite the mortgage on your house. But most importantly, these people are our moms and dads. These people are our aunts and uncles. These people are our friends and relatives. Please, when your dad tells you that he won’t use that new copy of Firefox that you installed on his computer, because it doesn’t have all of his passwords stored, just help him out and try to explain things as best as you can. We are the people who can help the internet scrubs. It’s stupefyingly frustrating, but don’t give up on them. After all, the insurance premium on your sweet new car might depend on you helping a person to understand that it really is necessary to put that damn “@” symbol in your email address.