Desperately trying to send flowers on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air. Or rather, it wasn’t in the air yesterday, until 20:00 last night. But let me start from the top:

Knowing that I would not get away from work yesterday, Valentine’s Day of all days, before all flower shops were closed, I decided to order flowers online instead and have them sent to Fredrika. Big mistake. Just after 08:00 I arrived at work to peacefully get online and order them before everyone else got to work. Problem 1: the customer I was working at yesterday have a web filter in which my desired flower web site was banned (trust me, I will really get back on this topic another day), but after some trickery that would involve my surfing being logged by them, I got in.

I chose a nice bouquet of red roses and clicked to get to the confirmation page, the one after you entered all the tedious details and to basically just get an overview to see if everything is correct, and then just click confirm to have them sent. Problem 2: while the page looked fine, no confirm button was to be found. My guess was, since I was using Firefox, that the web site had some inaccessible script approach that would only work in IE on a PC (I mean, we’ve all seen that one before…). So I switched to IE. Went through the same steps, got to the confirmation page, but still the same problem. No fucking confirm button!

Getting a little stressed, and at the same time being a web developer geek, I decided to look at the source code of the page to see if I could find the error and get around it somehow. Bad move. I was wading through terrible code; some of it is shared below:


<script LANGUAGE="JavaScript" TYPE="text/javascript">
<!--
if (navigator.appName == 'Netscape') {
	document.write('<input type="text" name="LevTextKort" SIZE="33" MAXLENGTH="103" tabindex="25" value="">');
}
else {
	document.write('<input type="text" name="LevTextKort" SIZE="48" MAXLENGTH="103" tabindex="25" value="">');
}
// -->
</script>

and:


isIE4 = ((document.all) ? true : false);
isNS4 = ((document.layers) ? true : false); etc...

Very popular code approach. If this had been 1999!!!

Anyway, the reason the confirmation page wasn’t working properly was because of the fact that some non well-formed code was written to the page (actually, pretty much in line with the rest of the code, to be honest), that, in some weird way, prevented me from actually confirming my order and making it all happen. So I decided to call their customer service: the line was busy! How the hell can you have a customer service number that’s busy?! Have some kind of queue or at the very least an answering machine service explaining that there are too many calls at the moment.

Instead I called their switchboard, basically just telling them that I couldn’t confirm my purchase at their web site. After saying that, I was immediately dispatched to some person in customer service… The conversation went something like this:

– I can’t buy flowers on your web site, it’s impossible to confirm my order.
– Yes, we know, being Valentine’s Day and all, we have a lot of traffic.
Thinking: So?
-Well, ok, but the reason maybe isn’t just the traffic but that actual parts of the code is missing.
– Yes, we know, being Valentine’s Day and all, we have a lot of traffic. Also slightly insinuating that I should try later…
Ok, come on! Losing it now…
– Ok, but what should I do then? What do I do if I want to order flowers right now?!
– Are you paying by credit card?
– Yes!
– I guess I can take your order then over the phone…Sounding very uncomfortable
I exclaimed a sarcastic “Yay!” in my head

We then went through the order, which took some time, and all the time she insisted on humming. It might be soothing for some people, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I was just pacing back and forth with the phone, you know that kind of pacing that you do to get some aggression out of your system, just to make sure my tone of voice wouldn’t reveal my actual feelings.

When we were done, I finally thought things were ok and went back to work. Later, when I got home around 18:30, no flowers had been delivered. I tried to keep my calm but was probably visibly upset. I explained to Fredrika that I had ordered flowers, that I really do love her. She just shrugged and said that she hadn’t really expected anything, that it was all cool. It made me feel a little better, but mentally, while sipping the white wine and having dinner, I was already preparing for the scolding the flower company would get the day after.

The evening passed by quietly, and after Emilia had fallen asleep we were sitting on the couch, carelessly watching TV. At 20:00, I heard a car door being slammed shut just outside and just as I got up, the door bell rang. As probably all of you who have children know, a ringing door bell just after your child has fallen asleep isn’t that popular. Nevertheless, luckily Emilia seemed to keep on sleeping and I ran to the door to see who it was. And lo and behold: the flower delivery man!

He was reeking of cigarette smoke and so was the paper that surrounded the flowers, but I couldn’t really care less. The flowers had arrived! And in the poor delivery man’s defense: if I had to drive around during the evening of Valentine’s Day delivering flowers to all kinds of weird addresses, I would probably also need some kind of drug to motivate me…

So, all’s well that end well!

You want a moral to this story? Life is actually good! And, oh, don’t do e-commerce if you can’t handle it. πŸ˜‰

13 Comments

  • Jules says:

    I must say that I would have moved on to another online flower shop the minute IE didn’t work: I wouldn’t have given them my business. On the otherhand, by tying up their customer service department because their web forms don’t work, it might push management to fix them.

    Might you offer your services to them?

  • Kalle Wibeck says:

    Robert: Wonderful story as always, I’m glad you didn’t try a service that worked…

    Dallas: I just visited your flower site with Opera Mini and was served some js errors and a page stating:

    “blank.html this page is needed for IE’s hidden iFrame”

    What do you say to your defense? πŸ˜‰

    I never tried it out, just thought it was ‘funny’ since it was an example of something better…

  • Haha, this is just so Robert Nyman – I begin to read about Valentine's Day and all that, and a few inches below, there's some JavaScript code. How could it be different? πŸ˜‰ I'm loving it! (Oh, I'm sorry, I guess that's copyrighted by McDonald's.)

    I only bought flowers online once, over at Fleurop, and I had no problems there – of course, it was not Valentine's day and the flowers took some three or four days to arrive, but I had not nearly such problems as you had.

    Did you actually call them today and tell them that the flowers were too late, their web site was damaged, your baby could have been woken up and all the other problems? πŸ˜€

  • Haha, Silent Warrior… that Javascript comment made me laugh out loud, which is always embarrasing when looking at a computer screen!

    Great story Robert. It really couldn't have been written by anyone else. Forget Mastercard, that was priceless πŸ˜€

  • Thanks for a great read, I must agree with SilentWarrior, that switching to webdev topics from anything is a great move πŸ˜‰

  • Dallas Pool says:

    Ok, so Im going to plug our site here just because I think it can save you alot of time in the future…. we built http://www.sendherflowers.com as a site built just for men. The site was launched in December, and this last week was a hell of a rush.

    The cart preformed perfectly and we didnt loose a single order to delivery problems…

    True that on valentines day, many of the affiliated florists are quite busy, but with the systems we have set up, the staff there can manage everything in seconds and avert your delivery disasters…

    So, the next time you want to send her flowers online…. use SendHerFlowers.com.

  • Pimmie says:

    A nice story Robert, but like many, even native English speaking people, you should try to make the right choice between "losing" and "loosing".<pondering>I wonder why so many people make that mistake, if "to loose" was a verb (I'm not sure about that) in the first place, it would hardly ever be used</pondering>

  • James says:

    I think I'd have looked for another florist after it failed in Firefox – surely it wouldn't have been any harder to change site than to change browser, and if a company's site doesn't work in Firefox I'd rather not give them my money.

    Pimmie: "to loose" is a verb – if you're an archer!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Jules,

    Nah, I wouldn't bother…

    I don't know what it's like in Canada, but the poor state of almost every Swedish web site is appalling. 😐

    SilentWarrior,

    Ha ha! That was such a spot-on description of me, I was speechless… πŸ˜€

    And no, I never called them, I just thought I'd vent my experience here.

    Steve,

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

    Dallas,

    If you do deliveries in Stockholm, Sweden, I might consider it next time. πŸ™‚

    Kalle,

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

    Pimmie,

    Ha! I definitely know the difference between those two, it was just a poor spell-check before I posted this. Although, loosing it in that sentence would also be kinda funny… πŸ™‚

    Emil,

    Thanks, it seems to be a gift I have! πŸ˜‰

    James,

    Problem is, the other Swedish florist web sites aren't any better… 😐

    And I can also agree about that being a verb. πŸ™‚

  • Dan says:

    haha, not like a swede to try and cover up his true feelings eh?

  • Dallas Pool says:

    SendHerFlower's strict JS / AJAX requirements prevent us from providing full cross functionality across all browsers…

    Opera / Safari are the two which give us the most problems at the moment… (

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Dan,

    Nah, I guess it wasn't a very Swedish behavior! πŸ™‚

    Dallas,

    But, humbly, isn't it in SendHerFlower's best interest to have a non-JavaScript accessible fallback too?

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