Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

24 November 2008

And the Useless Site of the Day Award #3 Goes to:

I have to introduce a new award, one for companies so hostile to their customers that they go out of the way to piss them off without ever meeting them. I'm thinking of calling it the Rio, after one of the worst electronics companies ever. They led the pack in unhelpful customer response:

"Please enter the claim number we gave you last time. Huh? Never heard that one. Here's a new one ... What? Uh, did I say something? Oh wow, man ..."

Or I might call it the Harper, "Harpy" for short, after the PM who seems so devoted to ideology that he insists on sticking to it regardless of whether it's a)what Canadians want or b)a good idea in the first place.

And today's winner is:

{Drum roll}

{/Drum roll}

Big O Tires, now also known as Big Zero.

I love the company. My car rolls on tires bought from our local dealer, and therein the problem lies.

A friend of mine has the mixed blessing of owning a Ford Festiva, a compact, thrifty car that generally is fairly suitable to commuting short distances, as they must. I quite like the Festiva, mostly. However, it's running into problems. Its twelve-inch tires are becoming scarce as people who'll admit they voted for Bush twice. You could probably dig up a unicorn sooner than a snow tire for it.

So as a favour, I diverted some of my valuable work time to looking up said tires. Big O was the second store I checked. I arrived at their "Cars" page, and was bemused (I know I was, because I said to myself: "Self, I am bemused") See? I told you, I was bemused.

That page required me to select a tire manufacturer. Why? I don't care, most of the time, who makes the rubber I roll on. Although I used to prefer Trojans ... So I picked the house brand. Okay, next page:

"Find a Dealer"
It's an annoying-but-not-uncommon step. I'd prefer to simply find out first if they have my tire, and afterward work out the logistics of getting it. But still ... Their form is unique in my experience in that it asks for your full address, describing this as the "Best" way to search. Presumably it's also the "Best" way to subject you to concentrated "direct" (read: "junk") mail.

However, it graciously admits that using your only "State" and city might allow you to find a dealer in your city. Although presumably if there were one next door to you, you'd be denied the pleasure of finding it, if you hadn't entered your street addy, no? So I entered "hometown" in Box one and "Home Province" in box two. Then it asked me to choose a radius within which to search. Because of the rarity of the tires I seek, I decided that provincewide would about do it. But the maximum radius is 150 miles--two hundred and fifty kilometres. Well, there are at least three mid-size metropolii within that circle, so I clicked.

A map of the 48 contiguous states popped up, with a message reading:
"Sorry, there are no Big O Tires store locations within 150 miles of your location. Please try our sister company Tire Kingdom". Which is ridiculous. There's one not five clicks from here. I've never even heard of Tire Kingdom.

So I re-entered the data, using "Nearby Big City" instead of "hometown" in the first box. I got results for "Nearby City"--in Washington. I double checked that I was on the Canada/US site: Check. Had I correctly filled in the blanks? Check.

All this, mind you, was before I ever got to clap eyes on a tire catalogue, a hope that was rapidly receding into the forgotten distance of memory as I struggled to get the stupid site to admit that yes, the Big O Tire dealership I spotted (and bought my last set of tires from!) was not a mirage.

Finally I got cagey. I went and googled Big O, specifying "locations." In four clicks I was on a page at the Big O site (!) giving the dealership address, postal code, and name of the dealer.

For curiosity's sake, I entered the dealership address information into the "Find a dealer" form.

"Sorry, there are no Big O Tires store locations within 150 miles ..."

I'm sure my local dealer will find that something of a shock.

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