The Last Straw
On October 27, 2014, I had a Eureka moment: “Computer code on my site does the Fandango!”
I had figured out what caused price glitches on my website. One day my customers would be charged the correct amount and the next day they wouldn’t. It had been a problem ever since my site went live in February.
If customers were overcharged, I immediately emailed them and sent a refund.
If customers were undercharged, I didn’t inform them of their good fortune and ate the loss.
The site Watermelon Web Works redesigned for me was a WordPress site. Watermelon said I had caused the problems by deleting something called “attributes”, and/or changing something called “variations,” and/or stuffing armadillos up my nose. Oh wait, I just made that last one up.
It’s taken a while, but I’m finally getting my sense of humor back.
Watermelon charged me $7958.81 in designer fees for a site that netted less than $11 a month. In August I uploaded my old and unimproved website.
Between commissions I’m linking cartoons on my old site to the “product pages” Watermelon created for the new site. I had my Eureka moment while doing this.
When customers buy cartoons from a product page they can instantly download the cartoons and not wait for me to email a jpg.
Adding this functionality to my site was one of the main reasons I hired Watermelon. I looked for ways to add it on my own, but every method I looked into required individually linking every cartoon to a slot somewhere in the cosmos that held the appropriate jpg. I had 4,200 cartoons on the site, so that was a lot of linking. Watermelon could automate the process.
Since Watermelon’s site proved to be a bust, I am now linking every cartoon to a slot in the cosmos.
I’d have been better off buying lottery tickets with the money I gave Watermelon.
Another irony: About 10% of the time customers have a hard time downloading cartoons, so I’m still emailing jpgs. But I digress.
When I link to a cartoon’s product page, I do some editing on the page: sometimes swapping images and adding “alt text”, something I wrote about in Part 12 of this review.
After a week where I’d edited about 1,000 product pages I noticed that all those pages had pricing glitches. Pages I hadn’t edited were fine.
I did an experiment: I took a page where customers were charged the correct amount, opened it in Edit, added a single comma in a sentence of text, and clicked “Update.”
The prices were now screwed up.
On my site simply opening a page in Edit caused computer code to do the Fandango and delete something called an attribute. Now that I know this, whenever I edit a page I make sure I put the attribute back before hitting update.
On July 22, Paul Clerc, Watermelon’s top web guru, said in an email the errors were “being created by your edits of the site/products.” Technically, he was correct. Every time I opened a page in Edit–something I’d been doing since the beginning–errors were introduced.
However, simply opening a page in Edit shouldn’t cause code to do the Fandango. This was a programming error on my site and since Watermelon was in charge of programming it is in my view their fault, not mine.
In 2012 Forbes said in an article, “Today WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day.”
Do millions of WordPress users have code doing the Fandango every time they edit a page? I think not.
Paul also said in his July 22 email: “These are not our problem or our responsibility.”
You can read Paul’s entire email in Part 13 of this review.
On October 27 I emailed Paul and Watermelon’s support team about my discovery.
I spent the next week fixing the prices on the 1,000 product pages I’d edited the previous week.
On October 30 someone from Watermelon’s support team replied to my email: “I have read your recent messages [tickets], but I could not find any requests. Is there anything you are asking us to assist with?”
On November 3 I replied: “I wasn’t writing you to ask you assistance. I was writing you so that if you have clients in the future with similar problems you’ll save yourself and them a lot of hassle.”
I also wrote Paul: “If you want to see the malfunction in action, try editing some of the products.”
He never replied, never said, “I’m sorry,” and never offered to find the root cause of code doing the Fandango on my site.
On November 4 I received an invoice from Watermelon for $7.08 for .08333 hours of work to “Update Theresa on Tickets.”
After I stopped laughing I wrote their billing guru: “Seriously? I’m being charged for an email I sent telling you how to fix a problem, a problem that as far as I can tell is related to the design of the website itself, a problem I spent over a week fixing myself? Seriously?”
She replied: “Although Watermelon is paying the developer who performed this work, we are not charging you for this but instead we are paying for it out-of-pocket. I cancelled the invoice.”
Next: The Final Insult
At one point Paul said the way to save my website was to blog. Another of Watermelon’s web gurus once wrote me, “Blogs are considered highly sharable, so write great blog posts for people to share!”
Feel free to share–especially with anyone you know who’s looking for a web designer.
Computer Cartoons for use in blogs, text books, etc. So cheap you can afford them even if you’ve paid your web designer way too much.