Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why do you have to confirm your e-mail address?

OK. This is getting ridiculous. Every single site I can think of requires me to confirm my e-mail address when I sign up or purchase something. The only exceptions are typically when you sign up for a new e-mail account. Those sites only ask you for a secondary e-mail address one time. Which is still a bit strange. If somebody is new to the Internet and is signing up for an e-mail address for the first time, how would that person already have a secondary e-mail address?

Think about all the information you give when you purchase something on a web site - your name, your billing address, your shipping address, your phone number, your payment information, and your e-mail address. If I was the seller, I'd be asking you to confirm your payment information a second time long before I'd be asking you to confirm your e-mail address a second time. But what happened was that confirming your e-mail address became an unspoken standard. Every time a new web site went up selling something, they'd just base their checkout page on existing checkout pages. And that's when the process of having you type your e-mail address a second time spread everywhere. Funny thing is, I usually just highlight what I typed the first time, copy it, then paste it when it asks me to confirm my e-mail address!

I can just imagine where this can lead to.... confirm your name, confirm your address, and confirm your credit card number a third time!

What is also becoming the norm is to actually validate your e-mail address. So enter your e-mail address twice and then wait for a validation e-mail to visit a web site to validate that the e-mail address is really yours. If I'm selling something, why do I care? As long as the credit card number is valid and the billing address checks out, I'm ready to sell you something. If you mistype your e-mail address or use a fake e-mail address... OH WELL. Nothing lost on my side. Except I can't send my marketing e-mails to you!

I think we should consider some of this redundancy for non-Internet usage. It could really cut down on fraud!

Teller: Welcome to PYHOOYA Bank! Can I help you?
Bob (customer): Yes. I'd like to make a withdrawal.
Teller: OK. What is your account number?
Bob: 293847173.
Teller: OK. Please confirm your account number.
Bob: But I just told you my account number?! But fine - 293847173.
Teller: And what is your name? What is your name?
Bob: Bob Jenkins.
Teller: I asked for your name twice as I needed you to confirm that the name you gave me is actually your name and that you didn't make a mistake when you told me your name. So again, what is your name, what is your name?
Bob: Bob Jenkins, Bob Jenkins.
Teller: How much money would you like to withdrawal?
Bob: $100.
Teller: Please confirm how much money you would like to withdrawal.
Bob: Screw it. Withdrawal everything. Account closed.
Teller: I'm sorry, your second amount does not match your first amount. You have lost your place in line. Please start again at the back of the line. NEXT CUSTOMER PLEASE.