2008-05-17 Woozle message to Speakeasy

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Preface

This is a message I sent to Speakeasy via their excellent online trouble-ticket system. It's actually kind of a backhanded compliment to them that this is the only thing I had on my mind to complain about. --Woozle 10:26, 17 May 2008 (EDT)

Related: online banking guidelines (we should probably propose a set of standards for electronic commerce as well)

Message

Your billing form rejects credit card numbers which are entered with separating dashes (e.g. 1234-5678-9010-2345), but the message does not make it clear that this is a problem with the number format rather than a problem with the card number itself.

Two suggestions:

  • Allow delimiters in card numbers (just strip out any dashes or spaces found), as this decreases human error when entering the numbers.
  • Make a distinction between a mis-entered number ("your card number contains invalid characters" and "your card number fails the checksum test, and you have probably mistyped it" would be good, descriptive error messages) and a card which could not be processed ("your card number was recognized, but the bank declined the charge").

More and more sites seem to be disallowing delimiters in credit card numbers, and as an online merchant myself I do not understand the reasoning behind this. Allowing customers to enter delimiters helps prevent transposed digits, as it is easier to spot a discrepancy by matching 4 groups of 4 digits each than with a single group of 16.

Thank you.