Stupid Validation

I’m a big suporter of websites doing proper validation. I even released a perl module to help people do it more easily (on the, perhaps naive, assumption that the easier it is the more likely it is people will do it).

But I’m an even bigger detractor of websites doing stupid validation. Yesterday I finally caved in and ordered a subscription to the New Yorker. I’m currently paying cover price every week for this (£182 a year), and there’s a little card in each issue offering me a subscription for 149 euro (£99 at today’s exchange rate). Of course I did a quick search online to see if anyone else is doing a better offer, but none of the UK magazine subscription sites even seem to offer it. (Of course the magazine subscription market in the UK is very different from the US, and even the magazines which you can subscribe to you barely get a discount at all. In the US from what I can see you tend to only pay about 25% of the newsstand price, or less). The New Yorker’s publisher’s Condé Naste, however, do offer an international subscription at $112 (at the current ludicrous exchange rate that’s under £60). It’s surface mail, so I’ll probably have to wait a few weeks longer for each issue, but that’s OK – the “timely” information in the New Yorker isn’t that useful to me anyway.

So I tried to use their online ordering form. Of course they fall into all the old traps. The credit card field doesn’t allow entries with spaces (there is NO excuse for this whatsoever), they expect a State (although at least “International” is an option), they want my postcode with no space – even though the space is an integral part of UK postcodes, and I couldn’t find my country (they have neither United Kingdom, nor Great Britain[1] listed – after thinking maybe they’d moved these out to the top of the list they way some sites do and failing there also, I eventually discovered they have Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man etc as separate entries!)

But even after handling all this the form kept giving me an annoying JavaScript pop-up telling me “Please enter a valid address”. Of course it didn’t bother telling me what exactly about my address it believed to be invalid. I really couldn’t find anything wrong my address, so I resorted to the geek last resort: I viewed the source of the page, located the link to the JavaScript validation code, loaded it up and attempted to discover what its validation rules were.

Bizarrely, the JavaScript was rejecting my address as the first line didn’t contain a space! I live in an old house with a name, and so the first line of my address is merely “Lismachan”. But that’s not good enough for Condé Naste! They need my first line to be “Lismachan “. What people who don’t read JavaScript are supposed to do I just don’t know.

Why do people persist in putting stupid barriers in the way of people who want to give them money?

[1] I have another rant for people who force me to have Great Britain, even though Northern Ireland is obviously the part of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” that isn’t in Great Britain…

4 thoughts on “Stupid Validation

  1. My copies are sent from France, so arrive really quickly. I’m not sure whether they’re printed in Europe, or drop-shipped en masse from the US, but either way there’s no significant delay.

  2. Hi Tony,

    Do you know if the 99 GBP subscription is also surface mail? I’ve tried to find this out, but no joy so far.



  3. Could you please show the URL of the website where you can order the item. I’ve tried searching via Google but I can’t find anything.

  4. Just wait until you try to renew the international subscription and find out that you can’t log on to your account because you don’t have a US address (or you have a 9 digit account number and not a 10 digit one).

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