Worst Checkout Experience Ever: CD-Wow.com

Like many people, I’ve bought every present online this year. However I’d just like to share with you the worst buying experience I’ve had for a long time at an online retailer. The shop in question was www.cd-wow.com and needless to say, they did not get my custom, in fact I ended up going to play.com and paying a few pounds extra.

Alarming DVD Region warning.

I came to buy a DVD and when clicked Add To Cart, a rather alarming window pops up in glaring red warning me that this is a Region 2 DVD and to check my DVD Player can play it.

Please ensure that your DVD player is able to play discs designed for Region 2 (UK & Europe/Japan)

I have never been to any site that feels the need to do this. Not to mention the terrible feeling that it gave me that perhaps I’d got the wrong one. As someone who knows a thing or three about online retailing and what effects a sites conversion rate, I can tell you that this is not a good thing to do.

Couldn’t find the Checkout
Having taken my life in my hands, I clicked continue and the popup disappeared. Great… now what… Where’s the cart checkout button? Normally it’s at the top right. Nope not there. Bottom right? No, not there either? On the right most column… nope. Wow this site is busy, there’s bright pictures and stuff everywhere drawing my eye. Where IS that checkout. Ah there it is, down the bottom left (what’s it doing there?!?) with a very bland dark blue text that says Click to Checkout under a tiny dull blue cart sign.

Blimey, these guys really don’t have a clue do they? Still off I go to pay.

Checkout Process Timed Out

Hmmmm, that’s odd. I clicked to checkout and got a blank page. I’ll refresh. Oh, I’m back at the home page. I’ll try that again… Oh, my cart’s empty, doh! Back through the whole sales process again, oh there’s that warning pop up again. Yes yes, I know I’m buying a region 2 DVD, I live in region 2, you’re showing currency in region 2 (GBP) and my DVD is region 2 (the hint was it was bought in region 2).

Coupon codes

Finally, I get to the checkout page and there it is, that inviting field that says E-Voucher No: I personally think coupon codes / evouchers are a terrible idea, for the simple reason that people do what I did: leave the site and go looking for one. I know that most online retailers have some Christmas promotion codes, surely it’s a matter of just looking hard enough and I can get some free cash off my purchase.

Actually, I couldn’t find any, which annoyed me for 2 reasons: firstly, I’d just wasted another 20 minutes of my life, and secondly, what kind of out fit are cd-wow that don’t have a Christmas coupon promotion??

Checkout Process Timed Out – Again!

DOH! I’d spent so long looking for a coupon, when I came back to hit Proceed, I got dumped back to the home page and lost my cart again. So now I’m going through the sales process for a 3rd time and already wishing I’d bought the damn DVD from play.com and paid the few pounds extra. Oh there’s that damn region 2 warning again! I tell you, if I see that warning one more time….!

And relax…. *sigh*

Here’s my details, no I don’t want to go on your mailing list.

Credit Card Processing

That’s interesting, there are several warning pointing out that my Credit Card statement will show up as “PayNova.com” not CD-Wow.com . That’s not necessarily a problem, but it’s odd as this day and age, it’s not beyond the whit of man to get the name of the website on the credit card statement, instead of some other parent company or something, but ok, I’ll go with it.

Now what’s this, they want my email adderss again? But I filled that out on the previous screen, why do they want it again? I’ll just ignore that. Hmmm it won’t let me pay without putting my email address in again, something to do with a PayNova.com account. But I don’t want a PayNova account. I don’t know what or who they are. Ok ok, here’s an email address.

What? It still won’t let me pay, don’t these people want my money!?! What now, oh I have to tick to accept the PayNova terms and conditions. But I saw the CD-Wow terms and conditions on the previous page, wtf is going on here, this looks like PayNova is a separate thing to CD-Wow and not just a parent company name at all.

Right, Nerd hat comes out, lets work out what this is all about then, let’s take a look at these PayNova Terms and Conditions, cos I’m not signing up to something with an email address on the same page as entering my credit card details without reading what it’s for, as it sure doesn’t look like a simple CD-Wow website thing. Here’s the link to their T&C’s for your viewing pleasure, but I shall highlight the shocking bits.


Right, it appears that PayNova.com is a competitor to PayPal. By signing up for this, I’m signing up for a PayPal type service where I stick cash in my PayNova account, and that pays CD-Wow. Great, except I don’t want to do that, I don’t even want a CD-Wow “send me spam” account, I just want the damn DVD.

But wait, there’s are few conditions here that are a real shocker:

> The Customer shall, without unreasonable delay, report, to its Paynova Account, changes in the Customer’s name, address, e-mail address and any other information.

I have to tell them “withour unreasonable delay… changes in… any other information” about myself. So when I have a child, or buy a car, or change house insurance? I don’t think so.

> Unauthorised transactions – Paynova cannot control that it is the Customer who has initiated a payment, but only that the correct password or answer to a secret question has been used.

> The Customer understands and accepts that orders and instructions given to Paynova by using the Paynova Account, and where the Customer has been identified and verified through the use of the Customer’s password or answer to the Customer’s secret question, are binding for the Customer.

So basically unlike every other financial institution you use (Banks, Credit Cards etc) PayNova are not responsible for fraud as a result of someone breaking into your account!

> Withdrawals from and termination of the Paynova Account are charged a fee of 4 per cent of the amount withdrawn, however not less than EUR 2.

Charging me to take back my own money, WTF!

> The Customer undertakes to hold Paynova harmless for amounts that Paynova may have to pay to third parties because of the use of the Customer’s Paynova Account

They are not liable for anything, no matter what happens, it’s all my fault.

> Paynova intends to process the Customer’s personal data with the object of administering the Customer relationship, fulfilling the obligation to provide information to authorities, and providing information about its own services through marketing.

So by agreeing to this, I agree to allow them to send me junk mail. Note, there is NO opt out of this clause. But wait, it gets worse:

> By accepting these general conditions, the Customer accepts such processing of personal data as has been described above. Such acceptance also includes transfer of personal data to third countries.

Hahahahahhahaaaa *cough*…. I think not.

> On request by Paynova, the Customer undertakes to provide information about the Customer’s identity, etc., as well as other information which can be considered material for Paynova’s business. Paynova also has a right, on its own or through a third party, to conduct its own investigations about the Customer.

My God, I must submit to the Paynova Gestapo now must I?!?

And finally:

> This Agreement shall be governed by Swedish law.

Errr, no.

It won’t come as much surprise I’m sure to learn that I didn’t continue my purchase. This was the most shocking online shopping experience I’ve ever had and CD-Wow will not be getting a single penny of mine, neither now, nor at any time in the future. They alienated me from the start with a shoddy user experience and continued to put every road block possible in my way, before finally trying to sign be up for a service I didn’t want, force me to accept spam and junk mail, and admit to transfering my personal data to undisclosed third party countries, Nigeria perhaps?

Sorry CD-wow, you blew it big style.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • horselot 9 March 2008, 2:28 am

    Some of what you say is true, but half of the stuff is from your own stupidity.

  • totem 11 April 2008, 9:13 am

    I agree with what you said about Paynova, but everything else to do with CD Wow was your own fault – CD Wow sell all region DVDs, I was about to purchase a DVD today and only for their pop-up box, I would have purchased the wrong region.

    It’s obviously a common problem, otherwise they wouldn’t have the popup box.

    The CD Wow checkout is on the mid left column, considering this is the second most obvious place to place a check out (the most common being top right, check out Jakob Nielsens website and his book with Hoa Loranger, Prioritizing Web Usability) it’s not an entirely stupid place to put it now, is it?

    The fact that you had to look for the same product 3 times was your own problem, if you don’t like e-coupons, DON’T SEARCH FOR THEM!!

    Your own rules on usability in relation to online purchase are unfound and you clearly have personal feelings against CD Wow and this has shown through your text.

    Stick to reading through T&Cs on websites.

  • Colin McNulty 22 April 2008, 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the comments. Yes maybe I was having a blond day (I’m not blond btw) and no one thing was enough to cause a major problem. But lots of niggles add up.

    > I was about to purchase a DVD today and only for their pop-up box, I would have purchased the wrong region.

    And you’re calling me stupid? lol. I have to say, I’ve never been that silly.

    > The fact that you had to look for the same product 3 times was your own problem, if you don’t like e-coupons, DON’T SEARCH FOR THEM!!

    You miss the point, the shopping cart session timed out several times and lost my cart contents. And it’s not that I don’t like e-coupons, as a consumer of course I want an additional discount. The point was knowing that where you see a coupon code box, you know you can normally get 5-10% off, or free shipping etc so as a retailer, it encourages your customers to leave your site at the point of purchase. That’s never a clever idea.

    > you clearly have personal feelings against CD Wow and this has shown through your text.

    Not so, I have no personal feelings either way with CD Wow, I’ve purchased from them a few times in the past, but this experience was beyond the pale. If you want to see a good user experience, try play.com they’ve got the right of it.

  • John 18 July 2008, 9:13 am

    PayNova is simply their third party processor. If you order from Skype my CC bill says PayPal.com.

    And everyone knows you should never read T&Cs that you sign 😉

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