Air Canada Usability Failure
All I wanted to do was to unsubscribe from some Air Canada spam (spam that I don’t recall ever agreeing to receive). Should be easy, right? Here’s how it went:
- After some searching, found and clicked the unsubscribe link buried deep in the fine print at the end of the spam.
- Web page tells me “sorry we are unable to complete your request at this time” but still allows me to log in. Before I can do anything, however, I need to respond to a confirmation message sent to my email account. I’m not sure why this is necessary since I started this process by clicking a link in a message already sent to my inbox so why should there be ANOTHER message sent to my inbox but, whatever, I’m willing to play along. Maybe this is a security feature to prevent the terrorists from maliciously depriving me of Air Canada promotional offers.
- So if you thought that simply clicking “unsubscribe” would unsubscribe you from whatever service was sending you the current spam you’d be wrong. Instead you go to a “Preferences” page where you have maybe 20 or 30 fields and settings because even though I specifically clicked UNsubscribe maybe I’m just stupid. Maybe I really wanted to ADD a subscription to one of the five other promotional mailings. Maybe I wanted to change my default departure location from Ottawa to Ecum Secum.
- My first attempt to submit the page fails because I have foolishly removed my default departure location and destination, thinking they don’t need this information if I’m unsubscribing. Nope, this information is required.
- The second attempt also fails because I miss the subscribe/unsubscribe option for the specific promotional mailing that I was getting. All I saw was the list of promotional mailings that were set to “unsubscribe”. I had no idea what I’m unsubscribing from, so I guessed that the website had intelligently set everything to unsubscribe. I was wrong. I was signed up for a different promotional mailing and that subscription option was buried in another part of the form. So when I submitted the form, the confirmation page showed me that I was still signed up for something called “Websaver”.
- You would think that on the confirmation page there would be a link to take you to the Preferences page again, but you would be wrong. Clicking the back button just resubmits the same information.
I finally make it back to the so-called “Preferences” page, locate the right option to unsubscribe, and I’m done. But why is Air Canada subjecting their customers to this painful process? Surely it’s a trivial exercise to give the unsubscribe link a reference number that tells the database to remove option Y from subscriber X. Clicking that link should have taken me directly to a web page that said nothing more than “You have been unsubscribed. Thanks for receiving our offers. For more information, click here.” Or maybe they’d want to send a confirmation message, which would be fine. But the main point is that if someone wants to unsubscribe, make it easy. If you don’t, they’ll never take your newsletter again. I know that I’ll never sign up for an Air Canada mailing again, at least not knowingly. I’m still not sure if I ever did.