Examples of bad UX - changing my mobile phone

In my post 'What is UX?', I talk about the problems a company might have if each department is left to look after their own part of the website and the UX within these pages, instead of having an over arching UX strategy. I was recently lucky enough to experience just such a problem for myself.

While studying with General Assembly I had promised myself a new mobile phone once I got my first pay slip from my first UX job.

Having received my first pay slip I went on the search for a new phone. I already had a fair idea of what I wanted so did not feel the need to speak to a sales person, and as an existing customer whose old contract had ended I knew that I could upgrade my phone online.

My original contract all those moons ago was with a company who has since been swallowed up by another company and as all my paperwork since has had the new company logo on it, and my phone displayed their logo on its home screen I had made the assumption that I was now with the new company. And in a way they have done this very well, as the customer I can not really see a difference when I am on their site or using the product as to which service I am on - I can not see the way the company is split up from the outside which is normally good. Until I came to upgrade. Here I start to have issues.

I log in to my account as normal and this time click the 'upgrade phone' button. This takes me to a brand new page and tells me a bunch of stuff I am not really interested in (adverts). When I again click the 'upgrade phone' button on this page I am taken to another new page this time with the list of phones on. 'At last' I think to myself and have a good old browse.

"Next time you try to do something online but end up feeling frustrated or stupid it is (probably) not your fault."

I find the phone I want at a price I am happy to pay and click the 'upgrade now' button. Another new page, this time with a nice form on asking for my details. First question, which number do I wish to upgrade? I stick my phone number in and to be honest I am expecting the form to refresh with all my details, I am after all logged in. However no such thing happens and I have to fill everything in! Even my billing details. This worries me.

  1. At no other point on the form does it make reference to me upgrading my phone and
  2. Why do they need my billing details when I have been sending them a direct debit for years?

I can now see that these issues were because they were taking the opportunity to move me from my original company to the new big company, without telling me (after all I thought I had already been moved) and there is probably a rule somewhere that says they have to start from scratch or something.

The next day my new phone arrives and I have all the fun of setting it up, a whole other UX case study of its own!

This required me to set up a new account which gave me the first inkling of what had happened.

A week later and I receive a letter with my first bill. I actually nearly do not receive this letter due to the fact that even though I filled in all those details, they can not be bothered to put my name on it. My husband nearly throws it out as a circular but opens it to check before chucking, luckily!

Right at the back of this letter, as a bit of an after thought, is a thing saying I have been moved from my old company to the new one and I am going to have to set up all my direct debits etc again. (What? Did I not just fill in a form with all my payment details on it?) Apparently setting up a direct debit is easy to do, just go to this website and do it there. I visit the website but get redirected straight back to my old account. In frustration I end up ringing them. The chap I spoke to was really helpful. He helped me set up a direct debit and to pay my first bill (even though I had given them payment details on that nice web form and thought that was sorted) and he explained that as I had moved company I would need to sign up for a new account which I could do somewhere else from what the letter said. Simple.

So now two weeks later I think everything is sorted. Although no one has said what happens to my old account, so I can not help but worry they will still charge me for that phone.

With a bit of thought this journey could have been a lot smoother for me but I guess the problem here is a mixture of moving between several different departments and that maybe more people switch phone companies rather than upgrade, so the user journey of someone upgrading and being switched within the company had not really been thought about. Or maybe it is the fact that people only get switched once so 'it doesn't matter'?

Whatever the thinking (or not) behind it I think this is one of the occasions where being told a bit about how the company works might work to the customers advantage. I do not need the full details but knowing I was switching company right at the beginning would have changed my mental model of the process slightly and helped me to understand a bit better why things were behaving in that way.

So remember next time you try to do something online but end up feeling frustrated or stupid it is (probably) not your fault.