Why are websites getting harder to use?


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Two decades or so ago, I decided to sell some used books. At the time there was a small online book retailer called Amazon. You may have heard of it. It was a useful place where you could buy books, but also where you could easily list used books for sale just by logging in and entering the ISBN of the book you wanted to sell.

At the time I remember being delighted with making a few quid from selling books I was unlikely to read again. It was an Internet Win.

Recently, I have started to declutter my books, and recalling how easy it was to do before, I decided Amazon would be my selling platform of choice.

The process went something like this:

  1. Did a search for the book I wanted to sell on Amazon.
  2. Found the book and clicked on ‘Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon’. So far, so good!
  3. Taken to a log-in screen. Makes sense. Log in to my Amazon account
  4. Told my account was not an ‘Amazon Sellers’ account. Okay, fair enough.
  5. Taken to a registration page which informed me that signing up as an Amazon Seller would cost £25 a month. That… seems expensive?
  6. Googled ‘Amazon Sellers Account’. Ended up on Amazon.com (the USA version) which had an individual sellers account and a professional, both with prices listed in dollars. At least it told me that Amazon should have a non-professional Sellers Account?
  7. Googled ‘Amazon Sellers Account UK’. Found the pricing page for Amazon Sellers. There was an individual account that didn’t cost £25 a month. Hurray! Now we’re getting somewhere!
  8. Clicked on Register for an Individual Sellers Account.
  9. Website tartly informed me I already had an Amazon account. I mean, I knew that, Amazon, this is where the trouble started. It was the wrong kind of account.
  10. Amazon insists I log in rather than register. Fine. You know your own website best, I’m sure.
  11. Sign in with my Amazon account.
  12. Taken to a beautifully designed page that informed that my Sellers Account had been terminated.
  13. Mutter a few choice swear words.
  14. Email the Amazon Sellers support
  15. Amazon Sellers Support respond that I could register a Sellers account, but it would need to be with a different email address.
  16. Okay. Fine. Deep breaths. I can do this.
  17. Register an Amazon Sellers Account with a different email address.
  18. Asked to input my mobile number for 2 Factor Authentication. No way to bypass this.
  19. Put in my mobile number. Amazon crosses its arms and sneers. An Amazon account is already using this mobile number, stupid!
  20. Sadly, I do not, in fact, have a second mobile phone. Attempt to explain this to Amazon, but it’s having none of it. There’s no way to bypass the request for a mobile phone number.
  21. I email Amazon Sellers support again.
  22. Amazon Support as been replaced by a Robot. The Robot extremely cheerfully informs that “It sounds like you want to close your account! Click here to read instructions on closing your account and have a great day!”
  23. Dig out a book on curses and curse Jeff Bezos and every web development ‘expert’ that helped build Amazon.
  24. Give up, make tea and sit in the garden.
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All-in-all, quite an unsatisfactory experience. But let’s be honest. This is just how online life is now.

My bank for example. There is stuff I can only do on the website and other stuff I can only do in the App. It is always unclear what the right choice is until I google it.

And 2FA–it’s great! Until I go the USA for three months and can no longer receive text messages.

I swear this stuff used to be easy. Did capitalism ruin it, or am I just getting old?

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