Are you broken?

File this one under Broken as explained by Seth Godin.

This week I realized that my backup hard drive at home was not working correctly. It clicks when it is powered on, and no disk utilities I have can find it. I thought I’d try a fairly robust utility that I’ve purchased in the past. My copy is woefully outdated, so I decided to buy the new one. Go along through the web site, put in the billing information, all of that.

At the bottom, the web page asks for an email address for the serial number and a .zip attachment. In red letters, the site says, “Gmail accounts can’t receive .zip files.”


Every email address I use regularly is supported by Gmail. Even my work email address uses Google apps for business. I could use my .mac address, but frankly I’ve found that sometimes its spam filters are a little too good and legitimate email never reaches me (in my inbox or spam folder!). So I don’t trust that address for this task. The email address given to me by my ISP? Pfft. I never use it or even bothered to set it up. I wouldn’t know the password if it was on a sticky note.


This is nuts. Absolutely nuts. Why on earth would any business want to set up its sales system to eliminate a huge chunk of the population? And another thing—the .zip format is primarily used on Windows. This particular business sells utilities for the Mac OS only. Why use a file format that’s essentially foreign?

What is in the .zip file they intended to send to me, anyway? The software? How about just letting me download it via a link? The serial number? How about having your system generate a PDF attachment instead? A .zip file? Really? It was created back when George H.W. Bush was in his first year as president—1989.

As you might guess, I did not purchase the utility. The lesson: if you want people to buy your products or services, don’t give them a broken web commerce system.


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