Are We The Puppet Masters? The Ethics of IxD

29 Jul 2009 - 5:49am
5 years ago
2 replies
500 reads
Eric Reiss
2007

Fascinating discussion. Let me share something that I do believe is
truly unethical.

I've been talking with the webmaster for several porn sites to learn
more about streaming video. She (yes, she) told me a creepy story about
how one site coerces new subscribers to submit to the recurring monthly
charge rather than the one-time-only three-day sample period. In other
words, rather than paying a one-time fee of USD 9.95, your credit card
gets billed USD 29.95 each and every month.

Here's how the scam works.

On the sign-up form, you check which payment period you want.

There is a really goofy field on the form that is almost always filled
out wrong. For ethical reasons, I'm not going to go into details. But
surely you are all clever enough to design a bad form of your own.:-)

When you submit the form, it points out your error. What most people
miss is that the checkbox for payment period has been reset. So folks
correct the highlighted error and submit - but without reviewing their
data.

The site sends a confirmation e-mail where the amended payment period
information is innocuously mentioned. That means when you complain, the
company can refer to their original confirmation e-mail - "If there are
any errors in your order, please report them to us within the next 24
hours." Virtually no one notices the error - they're too busy looking at
tits and ass.

So, the company has suckered 29.95 out of people instead of 9.95. And
apparently most people don't react until the second month is well
underway.

The funny thing is, I regularly run into dumb forms that reset things
when I need to correct an entry. Since money is rarely involved, I just
get irritated. But in generic terms, this is almost the same thing. For
example, try registering for the German social networking site
www.mixxt.net <http://www.mixxt.net/> . It's really easy to make errors
and some stuff gets reset, if I remember correctly.

Conclusion: as the guardians of user-experience design, we have an
obligation to protect users.

Cheers,
Eric

-----------------------
Eric Reiss
CEO
The FatDUX Group
Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.fatdux.com
office: (+45) 39 29 67 77
mobile: (+45) 20 12 88 44
skype: ericreiss
twitter: @elreiss

FatDUX is an official sponsor of the
Usability Professionals' Association
http://www.upassoc.org

-----------------------

If you received this in error, please let us know and delete the file.
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portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

Comments

29 Jul 2009 - 9:13am
Joshua Porter
2007

Great example, Eric! (not just about defaults, but resetting
defaults...almost evil)

Here's another interesting tidbit concerning influence, care of Steve
Jobs of Apple.

"It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and
it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t.
We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having
the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people
are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do."

I wrote up a bit more here:

http://bokardo.com/archives/steve-jobs-on-why-apple-doesnt-do-market-research/

Josh

On Jul 29, 2009, at 7:49 AM, Eric Reiss wrote:

> Fascinating discussion. Let me share something that I do believe is
> truly unethical.
>
> I've been talking with the webmaster for several porn sites to learn
> more about streaming video. She (yes, she) told me a creepy story
> about
> how one site coerces new subscribers to submit to the recurring
> monthly
> charge rather than the one-time-only three-day sample period. In other
> words, rather than paying a one-time fee of USD 9.95, your credit card
> gets billed USD 29.95 each and every month.
>
> Here's how the scam works.
>
> On the sign-up form, you check which payment period you want.
>
> There is a really goofy field on the form that is almost always filled
> out wrong. For ethical reasons, I'm not going to go into details. But
> surely you are all clever enough to design a bad form of your own.:-)
>
> When you submit the form, it points out your error. What most people
> miss is that the checkbox for payment period has been reset. So folks
> correct the highlighted error and submit - but without reviewing their
> data.
>
> The site sends a confirmation e-mail where the amended payment period
> information is innocuously mentioned. That means when you complain,
> the
> company can refer to their original confirmation e-mail - "If there
> are
> any errors in your order, please report them to us within the next 24
> hours." Virtually no one notices the error - they're too busy
> looking at
> tits and ass.
>
> So, the company has suckered 29.95 out of people instead of 9.95. And
> apparently most people don't react until the second month is well
> underway.
>
> The funny thing is, I regularly run into dumb forms that reset things
> when I need to correct an entry. Since money is rarely involved, I
> just
> get irritated. But in generic terms, this is almost the same thing.
> For
> example, try registering for the German social networking site
> www.mixxt.net <http://www.mixxt.net/> . It's really easy to make
> errors
> and some stuff gets reset, if I remember correctly.
>
> Conclusion: as the guardians of user-experience design, we have an
> obligation to protect users.
>
> Cheers,
> Eric
>
> -----------------------
> Eric Reiss
> CEO
> The FatDUX Group
> Copenhagen, Denmark
> http://www.fatdux.com
> office: (+45) 39 29 67 77
> mobile: (+45) 20 12 88 44
> skype: ericreiss
> twitter: @elreiss
>
> FatDUX is an official sponsor of the
> Usability Professionals' Association
> http://www.upassoc.org
>
> -----------------------
>
> If you received this in error, please let us know and delete the file.
> FatDUX advises all recipients to virus scan all emails, and to eat
> five
> portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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29 Jul 2009 - 9:33am
Scott McDaniel
2007

For some reason this feels like a familiar conversation, but this flies in
the face of so much that we discuss
and insist upon in our standard practices, doesn't it?
Genius design? Or is this safe to say when you're an industry leader and
have a proven record with it?

Cool read!
Scott

On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 11:13 AM, Joshua Porter <porter at bokardo.com> wrote:

> Great example, Eric! (not just about defaults, but resetting
> defaults...almost evil)
>
> Here's another interesting tidbit concerning influence, care of Steve Jobs
> of Apple.
>
> "It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s
> not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure
> out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right
> discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want
> it, too. That’s what we get paid to do."
>
> I wrote up a bit more here:
>
>
> http://bokardo.com/archives/steve-jobs-on-why-apple-doesnt-do-market-research/
>
> Josh
>
>
"You always have the carny connection." - Clair High

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