What, another rant?
Yup! This is my style of catharsis, with the usual vain hope that Deluxe Corp. will read it in full.
I’m long-winded. I know that. Here’s a synopsis:
- Deluxe’s Chase-branded website is old, slow, and painful to use.
- The website doesn’t send out emails. No order confirmations, no shipment confirmations. Nothing.
- They also don’t provide any order tracking when logged in via Chase’s site.
- They screwed up my order and I never received it. It’s been a month.
- Their “newer” website’s feedback form is a Kafkaesque nightmare, and they don’t respond to customer inquiries.
- They don’t tell you how many checks you’re getting in an order (“a box”), so you can’t effectively comparison shop.
- I’m pretty sure that their prices are more than double that of their competition (Vistaprint specifically).
- I should mention that Chase themselves, when I complained about the issue, responded to my online inquiry in 10 minutes and provided a refund no questions asked. I’ve always had a great experience with Chase’s customer service.
There’s a lot to back up what I’ve said. Please travel with me back in time to the heyday of the Information Superhighway and take a closer look…
Deluxe Enterprise Operations, Inc.
Their logo says Deluxe Corp, but the footer of their website says Deluxe Enterprise Operations, Inc. I’m not sure what the deal is; Maybe one is a parent of the other.
But you probably know who they are already. They’re the people that make checks, as in good ol’ fashioned bank account checks.
I don’t want to order checks, and I don’t want to use them. Heck, I’d ordered about 100 checks in 2003 and only just used them up! It’s 2014, and let’s be honest, they’re less useful than a newspaper. So before Deluxe goes out of business due to obsolescence let’s see if I can demonstrate why they should go out of business due to incompetence!
From start to finish, my order took over 30 minutes to complete, only about 3 of which was me looking for that globe logo. Otherwise it should have been just a matter of my entering my shipping address and etc.
The Initial Order
First off, I didn’t “choose” Deluxe. They’re the only provider that Chase links to from their website when I’m logged in. I figured I “might as well” use them, because they’re reputable and Chase transferred my bank particulars right to them.
To test it out again, I’ve just clicked on the link from Chase’s website to Deluxe’s. Now we wait… 21 seconds later: The page has loaded!
That’s right, 23 seconds to load a single web page in the year 2014. (Not to be immodest, but I just ran a test on Ookla’s Speedtest and got these stats: DL: 57 Mbps, UL: 29 Mbps, ping: 9ms. So the problem is not on my end.)
And that’s nothing new. In the process of completing my order I went back to Deluxe’s site a few times, and the initial page load took anywhere from 10 to 45 seconds. Subsequent page loads were quick enough, so I’m guessing it has something to do with establishing a new session.
Here’s what greeted me when I first hit their site:
Where to start with this screenshot?
From a pure style perspective it looks like it was last updated in 1999.
They’re pushing out an unsigned Java application. Sign your application!
Since I use this machine for development, I don’t always update my Java right away. By default, an out of date JRE will not run their unsigned app. (Yes, keeping Java up to date is an absolute best practice. But in the real world, how many people would not be able to use this site because they don’t abide by best practices?)
I had to update Java to use this site. Why is this even in Java, and not HTML5? Oh, right, because it’s 1999. And I couldn’t just make a security exception for it; Java wouldn’t allow me.
This was completely my fault, but nonetheless added to my irritation: At the end of the Java installation I was prompted to do something like “uninstall all outdated versions of Java”. In a hurry and frustrated as I was, I clicked yes. There goes my dev environment. (Yes, I know.)
What were they doing with that Java?
I jumped through all those hoops just to see a tiny thumbnail preview of my checks.
Are you as wowed as I am? You can really see the exquisite care and detail that will go into my financial instrument. And it’s so realistic. I hope there’s no spacing between my name and the border in the actual printing!
Really, that’s it. Was borking my whole Java environment worth that? (No.)
Let’s go through the steps!
I just want to show you the millennial design of their menu one more time before I get started:
Also note that there’s no wizard-style “get started” button. That flummoxed me more than I would’ve thought, but then I re-oriented myself to Windows 98 thinking and clicked the Design option.
I don’t really want to say 1999 again, but it’s unavoidable. Here’s how you choose your designs on this, the website of JP Morgan Chase’s exclusive check printing partner:
This doesn’t just look bad. It’s overly time consuming to use as well! You have to click on each of the 18 categories to see anywhere between 3 to 23 checks on each “page”. There’s no “view all” option, no way to filter results, no way to search. No nothing.
Choosing your binding is no big deal. Very straightforward.
When you want to choose your lettering (font), it does get a little hard to understand their design decision:
OK. I get it, really I do. That image is 450px wide. When the lowest common denominator monitor of the web browsing public had a resolution of 640×480 you had to keep things tight.
But of course the fonts are so small that they’re barely legible. And they put the sample check images on a rakish 30 degree angle just to make them even less legible. Brilliant!
The part to select a monogram isn’t too bad, but selecting a symbol is another morass of difficult navigation. It’s just like the check design chooser, but this has 17 categories each containing a whole lot of symbols. Again, no filtering, no searching, no “view all”.
Then it’s more of the same if you want to add a message to your checks above the signature line. There are only nine categories, but it looks like there are hundreds of phrases! I didn’t even want a message, but just to get an idea of what they were on about I read through many of them.
There are such gems as these…
- Ask me about my grandchildren
- Proud owner of pocket protector (sic)
- Life is too short to buy green bananas
- BE YOUR OWN HERO
- The Pledge of Allegiance (No, not the full Pledge, just that phrase for some reason.)
…plus many more heartwarming sayings that your 80-year-old grandmother would just love to have on her financial documents!
Inexplicably, coffee is a recurring theme:
- Got Coffee?
- I love Coffee!
- Wake up & smell the coffee
- GIVE ME COFFEE AND NO ONE GETS HURT!
More so than any other theme, the coffee messages have the most aggressive capitalization and punctuation, even to the point of being Grammatically Incorrect.
All of these steps and categories and page reloads wouldn’t have been too big of a deal were it not for the fact that they were plagued with slow-loading pages and server side errors (probably timeouts).
Oh, and I’ve been typing up this post with Deluxe’s site open on another screen. Their session timeout is shorter than Chase’s. I haven’t timed it, but it’s probably about 5 minutes.
First off, who do they think they are that they need a more aggressive timeout than the actual financial institution from which they’re linked.
Secondly, if one of their customers dares to step away to get a cup of, let’s say, coffee, the state of their order is not saved. They’d have to start navigating the menus all over again. This could also happen if, say, they have to spend a few minutes updating Java (ooh, coffee again).
And that’s that… or is it?
Not much else about the design process is remarkable. It ends in a standard early-web form wherein all the input boxes are the same width. Unusually there is only one field for “City, State, Zip” in the alternate shipping address field.
All that remains is to click “Place Order” in the robust menu at the bottom of the final summary.
But wait, there’s one thing that didn’t bother me until after my order was submitted.
I never received a confirmation email.
Weird, right? Well, maybe their email server is just slow. Or maybe it’s that they never collected my email address. That’s right, their site has no email capabilities.
My usual M.O. is to wait until I get a confirmation email before closing my browser and losing my order details. However, since the site had been painfully slow and occasionally timed out with server side errors the night of my order (it seems to be OK now), I closed it immediately out of frustration. Whoops, I guess I was supposed to print my order information.
Maybe I can have it faxed to me?
…that never happened.
Having no ability to email updates to the customer (things like “shipment confirmation” and/or “tracking number”), I waited around for my order. And waited. And waited some more.
OK, to be fair this was low on my list of priorities and I kinda forgot about it. Until I realized that I’d ordered on November 18th, and it was suddenly December 11th.
I went back to Deluxe’s site via the link from Chase’s website to check the status of my order. I figured that even though I hadn’t logged into the Deluxe site they’d have my personal details from Chase.
They did have my information, but there is no way to track your order.
Chase links to
ico.deluxe.com, so I decided to go to straight to
deluxe.com. I was pleasantly surprised to find a relatively modern website!
When I clicked on the menu item for CHECKS -> PERSONAL I was immediately prompted to enter my bank account details:
The “login” form
Let’s look at this from a security perspective for a second.
The very first thing they ask for is your bank account information. If I was unfamiliar with the Deluxe brand, I would find this to be absurdly sketchy at best. It reeks of an overly-bold phishing scheme.
Your account information appears in plain text. Not one of those fields is a “password” type of input box.
Finally, think about this: Your routing number, account number, and zip code are on every check that you send out. Any one to whom you’ve ever written a check could come onto this website and assume your identity. They can view your order history, and ORDER CHECKS IN ANY QUANTITY TO BE CHARGED DIRECTLY TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.
I had to put that last part in all caps. It deserves to be yelled. Again, anyone that has ever handled one of your checks can charge an arbitrary amount of money directly to your bank account, anonymously through the internet using this “reputable” site.
So what about my order?
As I said, you can magically view past orders via this new website. I did exactly that. My order date was 11/18/2014, and the checks were shipped the next day on 11/19/2014. So where were they?
Well, the order details had the answer. I had the checks shipped to my office (so they wouldn’t be sitting outside my house all day). The office has a suite number, but there was no second address line in the details of my order history. The package was probably undeliverable.
That’s my fault, right? I thought so, too. Except that I went back through the ordering process on
ico.deluxe.com and my suite number autocompleted in the second address field. It was a form-specific autocomplete, as the other address fields’ autocompletes didn’t contain options for my home (& etc.) addresses that I’ve entered on other sites.
Of course I can’t prove that the mistake was on their end, because they can’t send an order confirmation.
Regardless of that, it’s unbelievable that they didn’t do anything to contact me or assist me when my package was returned to them.
And then there’s the cost
Deluxe charges me $23.19 for a box of checks with no add-ons and no improvements. (Depending upon your bank and your relationship with that bank, you may be quoted a different price.)
They do offer free shipping, but the free shipping takes an astonishing 14 days for delivery and it’s not trackable. Again, 1999 is on the Motorola flip phone, and the call is for you.
The next-best shipping option costs a staggering $13.25 for 4-day delivery! I know for a fact that USPS flat rate priority mail is trackable and will deliver in 2-3 days (Saturday included) for a little over five bucks.
If you want next-day delivery, be prepared to pay as much as the price of the checks over again at $21.50.
How many checks in a box?
Let’s talk value-for-money. For the sake of this article I was trying to compare prices at Vistaprint with Deluxe.
It is impossible to comparison shop. I don’t know if they’re being purposefully cagey, or if this is some kind fraudulent marketing practice, but Deluxe is selling me a box of checks.
Nowhere on their website do they say how many checks are in a box.
The worst part of this is that I can’t find a definitive answer, and John writes that even Deluxe’s customer service people were unable to give him a definitive answer! Apparently it’s somewhere between 120 and 150 checks, but I won’t really know until I get my order.
Who runs a business like this?
Vistaprint (which while not perfect is a company with which I’ve never had a significant problem) will sell you 150 checks for $10 with only $4.99 for 8-day delivery. You can upgrade to 5-day delivery for $5 more. So for a mere $19.99 I can get my checks in 5 days from Vistaprint compared to $36.44 for the same product in about the same amount of time from Deluxe.
And I’ve ordered checks from Vistaprint for a different account. Their quality is on-par with that of Deluxe. There was no reason to have ordered from Deluxe in the first place, other than to waste my time complaining about them and feeling like an idiot for overpaying.
Contacting customer service
ico.deluxe.com there is no online contact method. I was doing all of this after hours, so I was not enthused about calling the 800 number listed on their site:
Oh, and that number? That’s the number for Chase’s customer service. Maybe they could help me with technical issues on Deluxe’s website. Maybe not. I didn’t want to waste time trying.
orderpoint.deluxe.com (the more modern iteration of their e-commerce solution) has an actual “Contact Us” form. Unfortunately, it’s a pile of crap. Here’s how that went:
There’s a wonderfully obscure error message at the top of that screenshot:
We are sorry. For security purposes, our site does not accept one of the characters you entered. Please remove the characters to continue processing your feedback. (Error message DLX-OPT-0055)
What? Here’s the message I was trying to submit:
I’m just writing to inquire about the status of my order. It’s marked shipped as of 11/19/2014, but I have yet to receive it. Is there any kind of tracking information?
Thanks & regards,
There are no weird characters in there, right? Nothing that shouldn’t appear in a customer service inquiry, surely.
Finally I fudged around with it and managed to send it. I’ll let my next message to customer service speak for itself (yes, I was extremely frustrated to the point of being rude):
I put the CRLFs back in for your easy perusal:
Let me start off by saying that your website is horrible.
It took me 30 minutes to order my checks, mostly due to server errors and necessary Java updates on ico.deluxe.com, which by the way I can see hasn’t been updated since -probably- 1998. It also takes about .. 45 seconds -I just counted- to load in the first place.
That aside, I still haven’t received my order. In fact, I just submitted an inquiry. Which is to say I tried to submit it 7 times, each time getting the error ‘For security purposes, our site does not accept one of the characters entered… -Error message DLX-OPT-0055-‘.
Why so many times? BECAUSE THE ERROR MESSAGE DOESN’T MENTION WHAT CHARACTERS ARE UNACCEPTABLE. First I tried removing the single quotes, then the commas, then the dashes, and etc. until all the punctuation was gone.
It was then that I realized it must be the carriage return/line feeds. I’m sorry, but I’ve been a web developer since before you guys had a website -probably-, and I know of no situation where CRLFs are a security risk.
And even if I’m wrong, at the VERY LEAST the error message could mention that. Oh, and every. single. time I resubmit this form I have to re-enter my order number and order date. Not my account number though. Strangely the sensitive information remains.
I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about. Please forward this to your CTO, and tell him I’m available on a consultancy basis. I can actually implement this form in JS and AJAX, two brand new technologies since 1998.
Oh lord, I just submitted this form again and it gave the same error. This time I didn’t use CRLFs. What character is it? I wonder? Hmmm, I’ll have to spend about 10 more minutes on this issue JUST TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE ISSUE.
Seriously, forward this to your CTO. You just lost a customer over what is trivial nonsense to get right.
OK, I’m submitting this again. It wasn’t the double quotes.
This time I’m taking out the parentheses and replacing them with dashes.
The forward slash? Nope, what next? I’m pretty sure that all these characters were in my last message.
As I said, I was incredibly frustrated. And why they require your routing number and account number in order to complain about their website is beyond me.
In response to my first message, the one which actually concerned my order that was paid for with my hard-earned money? No response. It’s now been just over a week since I submitted that message, and all I have to show for it is this canned reply to my email address:
Thank you for the comment you provided through our website. One of our customer service agents will respond to your message shortly. This is a courtesy notice: no action is required on your part. Thank you again for your feedback! We appreciate your business.
My rant about their website? It got a response:
Thank you for contacting Deluxe.
We value customer feedback, so I have forwarded your comments to the appropriate area. We continually make innovative changes to our Web site to improve its functionality.
We apologize for the inconvenience and will make every attempt to serve you better in the future.
Again, thank you for your comments.
Your Deluxe Customer Care Representative
Emphasis above is mine. That’s a good joke, Heidi.
I just sent another inquiry about my order. It’s now December 18th, so we’ll see how that goes.
December 21, 2014
Still no response from Deluxe.
It’s been over a month since my order, so I’m giving up.
I contacted Chase via their Secure Message interface on
chase.com and described my problem:
Date: 12-21-2014 20:15:55
To: Chase Online
Subject: Account Inquiry
MERCHANT:Check or supply order
On 11/18 I ordered checks from Deluxe, which I linked to from the Chase website. The fee for the checks was debited from my account on 11/25 PPD ID: 1410216800 , but I have yet to receive them.
I sent Deluxe an inquiry about my order and haven’t heard anything back in over a week.
I would like to have that fee reversed. I will order my checks from a third party merchant.
And here’s the response I got back from Chase:
Date: 12-21-2014 20:26:26
From: Chase Online
Subject: Re: Account Inquiry
I apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced. I
am more than happy to take a look at your account.
After reviewing your account, we’re giving you a courtesy
refund of $27.19 on December 21, 2014.
Please let us know if there’s any other way we can help
you. We appreciate your business, and thank you for being
our customer. Please e-mail us through the Secure Message
Center while you are logged on to chase.com, or call us at
1-800-935-9935, if you have any questions.
Isabel [Last name]
Internet Service Center
There are two important things about what Isabel wrote: First, she responded in less than 11 minutes. On a Sunday. After business hours. That’s unbelievably good.
Second of all, she gave me a refund no questions asked.
That goes beyond “good” customer service. It’s downright excellent. I don’t have my checks, but I didn’t pay for them either.
I ordered my checks a few minutes later from Vistaprint. And hopefully that puts this whole issue to rest.
December 30, 2014
I got my Vistaprint checks! It only took 6 business days for the checks to be printed and delivered. And that’s with the cheapest shipping option. Not bad at all!
Thanks for reading. As I said, this has been cathartic for me, but moreover I’m hoping that this helps customers to avoid frustration from Deluxe in the future, and that it may lead them to update their websites.
Everyone makes mistakes, and nothing in this world is perfect. If I only had one problem — or a couple of minor issues — with Deluxe I wouldn’t have bothered with this laborious review.