Slow pizza

I went to order a pizza last night and the website I normally use to do so had a new interface. It appeared to me that they had switched from what I believe to be a third-party solution to a homegrown solution.

Here's what immediately went through my mind when I saw the change:


"Great, the company is going to loose my personal data because they are new to this and they probably don't know anything about security."



"That also means I need to use the Discover Card instead of the check card, because I now suspect they'll loose my financial data as well. Discover is more forgiving of such things and has taken care of me in the past. Where's that card...."


Then I tried to login:


"Great, my user id doesn't work any longer. And that means I get to re-enter all the data that this company is going to then lose. Wonderful..."



"I assume that also means they won't have my order history. Now I have to recreate my custom pizza. Why they don't have a simple barbecue chicken pizza on the menu is beyond me, but I get to create one all over again (because it was so much fun the first time)."


Once I re-registered and got in, then the real pain started. I had flashbacks to dialing up on a 28.8K connection. Only, that might have been faster. Pages actually stopped trying to load before the download finished. They just gave up. I don't even know how you could program your site to make that happen, but they did.

Now, I'm really lazy. And when it comes to pizza at 8:30 at night after a 13 hour day, I'm really not out to find a new pizza place. But I was game, I tried two other local pizza places who I thought might have online ordering. No good. I was forced to use a phone.

I called one of the other pizza places on the principle that any company silly enough to release an application like this into production should lose my business and the business of everyone I know. I also called them because they had a barbecue chicken pizza.

Why is this interesting to me?

It's not often that I get to recognize my own performance expectations as an end user. I remember Rolland Stens sharing a technique he uses where he adds code to demo pages to slow them down on purpose. It's then that the customer who says "under six seconds" changes their tune to something like "That's six seconds! It needs to be three...."

Interestingly, I only walked away when I could no longer use the site. I probably would have finished the transaction if I could have, but then never gone back. I only gave up because I had no choice. I couldn't force the website to take my money. It just wouldn't load correctly.

Another aspect of this experience was embarrassment. I'm a performance tester. I cause pain like this when I do bad testing. I was also shocked by how little I trusted the site knowing that it was homegrown, and yet I still tried to use it. I was going to give them my money (or Discover's money, but they know how to collect from me). I expected them to lose my information. It's that common now. How sad is that for our industry?

All said and done, I filled out the feedback form. It was short and sweet. Probably not fit for print here. I received a reply from a customer relations person thanking me for the feedback and giving me a gift certificate. Apparently that's what's missing from my performance test plans. A risk mitigation strategy of discounts, rebates, and free food.