Just like last year, I braced up myself to buy a bit of computer hardware during the Boxing Day (BD) sale at Futureshop(FS). Last year, I was just plain lucky to to actually get the rebate as Futureshop completely refused to honor the Mail-in-Rebate as I had made the purchase 5min before midnight PST! Do they open their stores in the East coast according to their store times for the West coast? However, Western Digital was considerate enough to understand the problem and send me the MiR.
This year(BD sale started at 0000hrs 25Dec05), I was expecting more rush for the online BD sale with more and more people subscribing to high speed internet. So as expected, the site was almost unreachable till 0200hrs 25Dec04. When I was finally able to login(FS asked me to quote one of earlier order numbers, nice security if you haven't ordered something for some months), I selected the 256MB Kingston USB key drive and added it to my basket. Trying to checkout was futile because all I was getting was VB Script errors. When I got through about half an hour later, it again asked for my login and password!! Why did they ask me a second time? OK, fine. I assume that my session expired. But then I had to tell them an older order number from my record again. On submitting the info again for the second time, I got to a page telling me that the site was very busy. Didn't they know that the website will be busy during their boxing day sale? They should have taken appropriate measures so as to provide the users a pleasent experience.
I finally got to the point of providing payment information. Typed it in, and clicked confirm payment info button. That went in allright, but the confirm page had a message at the top that the product I was trying to order was already soldout! It was just like someone took stuff out of your basket while you were still shopping in an actual store.
And that was not all, worse happened the next night. I wasn't even able to login between 0000hrs and 0200hrs 26Dec04!
A better system would hold the item for the user for a few minutes or so. They could alert logged-in users just before the holding time expires, or keep the item if the user has initiated the payment process. They need to update their systems or atleast lease more computing power for the few days when they know it will be very busy. Not all systems need additional power, even increasing the computing power for the login and payment system would be of great help. I think it would be a good idea for Futureshop to spend sometime on improving their own Future by working on their customer dealing methods.