Monday, May 9, 2011

Online? No thanks, I'd rather use paper

Frustrated tonight because after about 10 attempts, I could not renew my subscription to The Nation online.  The webpage (at, not some impostor) kept telling me I was not in database.

I even tried logging in to TheNation with my online username.  That worked, then I went to the "Manage My Account" section.  But that simply brought me to the same page as above.  I tried again, same "not in database, try again".

I even tried typing in my account number directly from the most recent copy of The Nation into the bottom section of page which lets you bypass the address entry.  I tried that several times.  Still failed.  Finally I got a page about website error.  Interestingly that was a Hearst corporation URL.  Apparently The Nation, which brags about their independence, somehow has the Hearst corporation managing their online renewals.

I had similar experiences trying to file my income tax return this year.  My income tax return is so simple (wage income only, one W2 from one employer) it usually takes less than 15 minutes to do everything on paper.  After an hour of futzing around with the website linked by the IRS (but actually run by some LLC, isn't government by corporations wonderful) I gave up, and simply printed out a PDF of the 1040A form (which they didn't mail to me this year, informing me I should use web entry if possible), and filled it out in 30 minutes.  The hardest part was figuring my Making Work Pay credit.  I also insisted on having check mailed rather than electronic deposit.  (They say they can't be responsible for error in electronic deposit, so to heck with that.)   I received my refund in 4 weeks.  Fine.

And I tried to donate to Texas Public Radio last week.  I got bogged down a bit in writing a comment.  After about 30 minutes, the website summarily dumped the entire online form.  OK, they can wait another few weeks until I have time to try again.

By the way, I am a computer programmer and have been professionally employed in programming for 30 years.  Though I work in scientific programming, I have designed a number of web pages for work and personal projects.

I don't even want to recall the horrors of using a credit rating tracking website.  After calling them the second time by telephone, I cancelled the service via telephone.

On the other hand, I check up on my credit cards online and always pay the bills online (though I still insist on paper bills for personal closure).  I can't recall ever having a problem with those websites.

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