Category Archives: Electronic Commerce

Google sued for providing poor page ranking

KinderStart.com, a Norwalk-based Web site devoted to information about children, filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in San Jose seeking to be certified as a class action representing the owners of all Web sites blacklisted by Google’s Internet-leading search engine since January 2001.

Google’s search system attempts to elevate the positioning in search results of Web sites with content most relevant to a particular search. Because of the large proportion of searches handled by Google as compared to rival search engines, sites without a well known domain name that are assigned a low ranking by Google can loose the majority of their traffic. Somes sites therefore try to optimize their content so as to increase their rankings – however, if discovered by Google, such sites can be artificially penalized (or sent to “the sandbox” for the equivalent of a children’s time out).

From SiliconValley.com via Techdirt.

AirCanada.com Sucks

In my view, Air Canada has some systemic problems with the operation of its website. Although the online reservation system has been expanded to accommodate a larger number of passengers, I have personally not been able to book a trip for more than 5 people traveling together – and this problem has continued on for several years now. Every time its the same thing – everything is fine until the payment screen, and then boom! a system error. Each time I call Air Canada’s website help desk and get redirected to India. My experience with Air Canada’s India call center is that they are totally useless. For the first two years, they’d tell me to try another computer or to delete my cookies, which never worked. Yesterday they went further and asked me to try and carefully reformat the information I entered (don’t most other non-Air Canada computer systems include field validation?). So after 10-20 minutes of wasted time, I get transferred to a queue holding for a Montreal reservation person who has to book my reservation (they are usually great!). The same thing has happened about 6 or 7 times now. I’ve offered to provide 1-2 hours of my time at no charge to help them trouble shoot the bugs in their system, but there was never any interest on their part. Is this any way to run an e-commerce platform?

Sierra Wireless, VOQ, Tiger Direct and Privacy

I noticed yesterday that TigerDirect was dumping Siera Wireless’ now discontinued VOQ Professional Phone at a really attractive price. The phone originally sold for about $500-600 about 18 months ago and at the time I was seriously considering buying it. Instead, I opted for a different smartphone and was glad that I did given Sierra Wireless’ decision to get out of the cell phone business.

In any case, I picked up one of the phones at the Toronto outlet store today. It was not labeled as used or refurbished and was made to look new. I got it home and started to look around. To my surprise, it contained 135 SMS messages (received throughout 2004 and early 2005), many of which obviously belonged the phone’s previous owner – he had quite an adventure to Meca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and then was apparently looking for a house in Toronto. It contained birthday messages (so one would know his birthday) and his anniversary (two common items used for authentication by many businesses). It contained a password for something called Rogers Desktop (he was a Rogers Wireless subscriber) as well as activation codes for certain services. Amazingly, it also contained login credentials to access what appeared to be a corporate email account at Sun Microsystems. I’ve deleted everything but it just highlights to me the dangers of sending malfunctioning computer equipment to the manufacturers who then “refurbish” or “recondition” it without even going to the trouble of performing a “factory reset” to wipe the memory on the device. And it was disappointing that Tiger Direct does not prominently note that the product is factory recertified. Also, I guess the term factory recertified at Tiger Direct means that product could have been used for more than a year.

Unfair Wireless Contracts

A recent change by Fido to their their service agreement has been the subject of discussion on HowardForums. Most users posting comments didn’t seem too happy about Fido being able to made changes that are to their detriment during the term of the agreement. However, this type of thing is common in “contracts of adhesion”, particularly those used by telecom companies. Although I have not checked the contracts used by Rogers, Telus or Bell, I suspect they all have similar provisions.
Continue reading Unfair Wireless Contracts

Rogers definition of “Unlimited”

Alec Saunders has an excellent posting about an issue he is having with Rogers. It seems he purchased an unlimited wireless data plan but Rogers had put a footnote/hyperlink on the word “unlimited” stating that they would charge an additional per MB fee for any usage above 25 MB. In my view, the right thing to do would be to define such a plan as a “power user” plan and avoid redefining English terms to mean something different than what they are commonly understood to mean.