June 26, 2021 at 9:42 AM by Dr. Drang
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a ceiling fan from Home Depot. This morning, I got a text message:
The “part of your order” language confused me, as I had ordered only one fan. Had I mistakenly set the quantity to two or more? That would mean some hassle to cancel the order or return the extras. So I went to Home Depot’s site to look up the order and found that the fan comes in four packages—there was no mistake with the order.1
But the order summary also said that all four packages are ready for pickup, so why did the text message say “part”? I have a theory.
When the programmers who built this notification system for Home Depot realized there could be a handful of different pickup scenarios, they had to choose between two responses:
- Work out the logic of the various scenarios and program the system to send a clear message for each one.
- Bang out one or maybe two messages that imperfectly cover a range of pickup conditions and be done with it. After all, who cares?
Home Depot obviously didn’t care because it’s happily sending out puzzling messages to its customers. Customers might care, but we’ve had so much experience with poorly written instructions and confusing websites that we’re mostly numb to them. And after all, complaining never gets anywhere, does it?
Update Jun 26, 2021 4:35 PM
I went to the store this afternoon to pick up the order. It came in two packages.
Why Hunter ships a simple ceiling fan in four boxes is a question for another time. ↩