Email from my father

“When one buys a print on Flickr/Yahoo, the order form calls for “name on credit card.” In my […]

“When one buys a print on Flickr/Yahoo, the order form calls for “name on credit card.” In my case, all the cards I use have “Griffeth A. Wodtke.” I then put in all my info — name, card number, expiration, security code — and get a message “special characters are not allowed. Please remove them and try again.” I couldn’t see any special characters, so I redid the credit card number, no luck. Redid the security code, nope, not it. Redid the expiration date, not that either. At that point I concluded it was a glitch and the thing just wasn’t going to work, so was about to give up, when it occured to me to delete the middle initial and period. As you of course have known from the beginning, that was it. But is this user friendly? What if the person doesn’t know what a “special character” is? I sort of do, but don’t really think of a period as a special character, more like # and $ and < and such. And when you ask for the name on the card, you're going to get some with middle initials. Interesting example of designers not thinking it through. Bet they've lost some sales because of that."


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  1. 3

    Interestingly, they also usually ask for the name EXACTLY as it is on the card — and I’ve never seen the period on the card, despite any middle initial.

    I’m curious if they were able to process the card without the middle initial — I thought the processor software had to submit the exact characters that were on the card in order for it to be approved.


  2. 4

    Taking out the periods would get it going. I’ve not yet come across a credit card with periods in them. What they should mention is that they only accept a-z A-Z and spaces in them for example.

  3. 5
    Henrik Rydberg

    But with A-Z our friend Jørgen would be left out. So would also many of the Scandinavian and some European people.

    For a programmer a-z A-Z makes sense but I don’t think non-programmers think lots of differences between small and capital letters by default. I’m from Finland and here I’ve never seen a direction like a-z in real world (partly because our last letter is ö but never the less). I don’t know for sure how things are in US but haven’t seen that in my travels. My point is, is A-Z really a clear presentation of all the “normal letters”? Answering quickly, does Y belong to A-Z group?

    I would tell what characters are not allowed. Griffeth Wodtke creates a list of just a few bad characters, but that is enough to give us a sense of what he thinks is not accepted. So I don’t see that every bad letter should be listed, but instead convey only the mental model.

  4. 6

    Rather than accrete a layer of documentation to the interface, why not redesign the software? Allow any characters to exist in the field. Stupid of lazy DB designers to take the easy way out, anyway.

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