Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Confused? You will be... Or not... Or neither...

I've never been a fan of Canada Post as my experience with them is it takes far too long to mail anything (7 days to mail something starting and ending within Toronto seems to be the norm according to my experience), and far too expensive.

If I can help it, I send everything digitally just to bypass them, but there's a problem with this.  They realised some time ago that people would go digital, so they came up with a half-baked system called ePost, where the basic premise is that instead of having things sent to your email address electronically (like bank statements, bills, etc), banks and utilities and everyone has been corralled to pile stuff into this system like it's a last-ditch attempt to give Canada Post something relevant to do instead of disbanding it.

Yesterday, I got the attached message from the ePost system, which underlines the classic type of nonsense that makes me dislike them in the first place. 

What the message implies is that, first, they made a technology mistake when designing their system.  If their opt-in/opt-out methodology mentioned in the message was a light-switch, it's equivalent would be Light On when up... Light Off when down... and "it might look like it's off, but really there's no lightbulb attached anyway".  

Their understanding of binary states gets even more weird when you look at the instructions they provide to fix their issue.  In short, what it's saying is that "if you don't opt in, or opt out, we're opting you in".  But it doesn't actually state that (it infers it in a way that many people would not comprehend at first glance).  

So, to recap, instead of having two states (true/false) for a record of a binary decision, they put in three (true, false, null), now they're trying to get it back to two (true/false) and are going to assume any null records should be true unless you set it to false before they get there. Clear?

How the instructions tell you to change this is pure comedy:

  • To opt in, check the box. This makes sense.
  • To opt out, check the box (like you're now in), but then uncheck the box (so now it's back how it was before you started) then click Save.
In other words, to opt out, you should just go to your profile and don't click anything, then hit save and the unchecked box should get written back to the database as a false... 

...unless there's another piece of weirdness going on that they're not telling us about, which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.