This Week in Imaging: Adventures with Stripe
Ask most people what Stripe is, and they will likely not know, even though they probably use Stripe technology every day. That’s because behind most purchases on the Internet these days is the Stripe platform, which enables businesses and consumers to make credit-card purchases of goods and services on the Internet.
In my opinion, Stripe represents the best and worst of Silicon Valley and today’s tech. On the one hand, Stripe securely enables thousands of people and businesses to purchase goods and services on the Internet. The credit-card data Stripe handles is encrypted, and one advantage is that merchants don’t see it.
On the other hand, Stripe assumes users have hours to spend researching how to use it, and technical support is spotty. For instance, buried within its Dashboard is an option that automatically renews subscriptions and memberships – a disaster for a subscription-based site, resulting in subscription renewals that aren’t even indicated on one’s website as a transaction.
Technical support also tends to respond with boilerplate and links to the user manual. Stripe’s response to my request to access a Stripe account that I thought I had de-activated took well over a week, with Stripe shuffling me from one person to another for a request that should not be uncommon. At one point, tech support emailed a page-long list of instructions, with the phrase “simply do this” ironically scattered throughout. Other emails included marketing boilerplate. To actually speak to a rep required an appointment (this is actually slightly better than some other tech support, which only enables tech support to provide support via email or online chat boxes.)
Unfortunately, it seems the tendency for people who create and manage software and solutions and provide tech support is to become so familiar with it that it seems like anyone who doesn’t quickly master it is just dumb – or too lazy to read a 300-page user manual. In reality, it’s only easy because they’ve been doing it so long, and not everyone has the time or energy to read user manuals hundreds of pages long. Some tech support personnel are also not well-trained and don’t know how to solve relatively simple problems. I went through over five Stripe tech support people before someone actually did an easy fix that quickly gave me access to the account. Along the way, tech support also forgot to do key things that set me back and made the process longer.
One solution might actually be a “Stripe (or whatever software) for Dummies” configuration – a stripped-down configuration that just provides the basics – or, in other words, a video-game “easy level.”
In general, the printer/MFP world has always seemed much more sensitive to making its tech and software easy to use and understand. I’ve personally written and edited many printer/MFP test reports and user manuals, and used and written about everything from scanning software to HP Jet Admin, and I can’t ever recall an instance when anything presented a real difficulty – most likely because administrators and users would never tolerate it.
As for Stripe and anyone else developing software and solutions, offering an “easy version” may be something they may wish to consider. Or maybe just look at how PayPal – a platform with both basic and advanced platforms – does things.
HP Hits the Lottery
That big ka-ching you may have heard this week was HP Inc. receiving a court award worth almost half a billion dollars (about $438,650,000). Essentially, HP was awarded an entire company – Taiwan-based Quanta Storage, a former HP supplier, with assets in China and Taiwan.
The award includes Quanta factories, patents, and cash, and it involved price fixing of electronic components used for reading media and data. HP sued Quanta and other component companies, including Toshiba and Samsung, for price fixing, and won. Those companies complied with court-ordered fines, but Quanta didn’t, with the result that the court eventually tripled its damages. Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses when you can.
This Week in Imaging
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