Darwin's Theories Blog

New Theories for a New Time

Failing Web Site du jour, part 47

After letting me sign up for online banking with RBC, I went to create a direct investing account to buy some shares. After making me click 3 or 4 links to get to the "Create your account" page, I was presented with this bleak admission of failure:

Thank you for your interest in RBC Direct Investing. In order to complete and submit your online application, you must be running one of the browsers listed below and complete the following steps:
  • Internet Explorer: Please download Adobe Reader Version 9 or higher.

  • Microsoft Edge: Microsoft Edge is not supported – please use Internet Explorer or Firefox.

  • Safari: Please download Adobe Reader Version 10 or higher.

  • Firefox 4 or higher: Please install Adobe Reader Version 10 or higher.
    (Note: for MAC users, Firefox is not supported – please use Safari.)

  • Google Chrome: Please install Adobe Reader Version 11 and enable Adobe Reader as your default PDF Viewer to be able to continue.
    (Note: Google Chrome 42 or higher with Adobe Reader is not supported – please use Internet Explorer or Firefox. For MAC users, Google Chrome is not supported – please use Safari.)

  • If I recommended Firefox 4 in the web courses I teach, I'd get laughed out of the classroom; Firefox is currently at Version 50, so they're 46 versions behind. Chrome is at version 54, so they're not supporting "only" the current TWELVE versions, that is, the vast majority of users, of the browser that is currently used by more than 50% of the web. Do they want customers, or no?

    In other words, "we've created a house of cards based not on this-century web standards, but on incestuous and rococo knowledge of fine details of certain browsers, and, we're not interested in any of this modern stuff from your post-2001 era". FAIL.

    I wrote to them on their contact page, where they promised to get back to me within two business days. It's now Day 3 (Updated: Day 6) with no response in sight from this site. FAIL.

    I went to my computer museum and found a browser that got past their 4 pages of login blather, I started entering my data, only to see this failure; they would not accept my Social Insurance Number (Canada's equivalent of a SSN), entered with no spaces, nor with spaces, nor with dashes, nor with any hint on how they wanted it formatted. An EPIC FAIL that was repeated a few times throughout what followed.

    Update: went back and tried again due to external factors. Got past the SIN question. Then it wanted to install Adobe Flash. WTF? There is ZERO excuse for (a) needing Flash or (b) using it in this decade. It is so insecure that even Steve Jobs said something like "Flash must go. This is not negotiable."

    But, I digress. At least, I tried to persevere. I dutifully installed Flash just for this one use. I spent half an hour filling in the form. It asked me some ridiculous questions about my work, and tried to pigeonhole me into some "job category", none of which quite fit. Several of the form fields were too short for correct answers. It told me I had to read two additional documents which it promised would open in a separate window, but they didn't. Figured I'd read them later. It insisted on making me print the document before submitting it, so I did so, all 14 pages. In the end I'm glad I did, because after I clicked Print and filled in the non-standard Flash-based print dialog and clicked OK, the last thing I ever saw was this:

    Plugin Failure, black screen of death

    Against such overwhelming epic fail-ness, what can I possibly add? I have signed up for over five hundred web sites; the rbcdirectinvesting.com website is among the worst of the lot and needs a complete re-write for the twenty-first century.