Okay. I’ve already established that the Italians are signage-challenged, but really the root of the problem is much deeper than that. It’s an organizationally-challenged populace, coupled with nonexistent customer service, leading to a lack of understanding of how those very services should flow...You can see what kinds of trouble we’ll be having in Tiber Town as Italy, like the rest of the ‘developed’ nations, moves into the Service Sector.
And so it is with the Internet. How many times has your click-through ratio moved into stratospheric heights, only to start finalizing your purchase …and be timed out unexpectedly by the system. Or, it doesn’t accept something you’ve (naturally) done but doesn’t allow you to hit ‘back’, so you're forced to start all over again. Or, it doesn’t accept credit card payments from foreigners (in a country banking on tourism), or, just simply crashes in the key moment. I have created so many identities attempting to purchase train tickets, that I’m sure by now I've been fingered by Interpol for suspected terrorist activities.
My Home Banking is so clever, that each time I want to conduct a transaction, I actually have to first go back to the bank, collect a new password, certificate, authorization and code, and by now propose my 9th-born son, that even taking care of it at the insidious post office is a better option. The bankers informed me of late that they received accolades for their terrific security system; I offered that they could just make it completely inoperable and it’d be totally failsafe.
And so it was, when I decided to order domain names for my business. Sitting in Italy, I chose a .com address, went to the U.S. site, and for $9.95 and a pay now! thru paypal, I was as good as gold: total transaction time, including searching for some cool names, about 9 minutes.
Same name, this time .it. About 10 mins and $49.35 later (and a few under-the-breath remarks on what one capitalist feels about monopoly power), no problem. But, I must wait 24 hrs. for confirmation in my inbox. Next day, I discover a mail stating that, unless I was an EU citizen, I could not take out a name. So much for free markets. They obviously missed the irony in that they’re offering Asian addresses to us non-Asians… or, is that just a smart marketing campaign targeted to the large Filipino community here?
Fortunately for me, I have dual citizenship. So, while wondering if people must marry Italians in order to get a domain name, I decide to simply change my initial purchase details.
After attempting to log on – third time was a charm – I get to the Home Page.
Cannot discern how to change my coordinates. I discover the letters in cute boxes: D E H M
Having perused the page, I divine that they mean, Domain – Email – Hosting – Mamma Mia!!
I try Domain – I take a wild guess at Information. I bump into my coordinates. It refuses to accept my telephone number written in the format of Italian tel numbers. First recomposing my tel number on a piece of paper, I’m in! I finally change everything, except my NATIONALITY, the thing they didn't approve of in the first place. At which point all of the changes previously made are lost. Again, back to GO with no $200. I see a message: ‘You must request assistance via email for these items”. I request assistance.
Next day, they have courteously changed the NATION for me. I’m quite certain there’s a valid reason for this block. Probably to challenge Americans who don’t know what a nation is.
Next day, properly inserted into the system, I discover that I still don’t have a domain registered. I reread the email, and find that I must now print out a Letter of Assumption of Responsibility (LAR), and fax it into some institution with my signature and soc sec’y number. I’m starting to feel like road kill on the information super-highway. They cheerily claim, “If you haven’t done so yet!” as if you knew you were supposed to do that in the first place. It just takes a button. They say we can find the LAR at the bottom of the ‘Documents’ section of the site.
Nowhere on the entire page is a section entitled Documents (not even under D) -- but, in my search, I did discover that I could have a t-shirt made with my domain written across it!
Logged on, but no place to go. That’s because, on the Register.it site, there is no site map, nor a search mechanism. And these guys actually offer to build you a website?! Finally, thinking like an Italian, I click on my domain name which appears totally inactive. Eureka! And, not on the bottom of the newest page, I see Documents. Here, I find Please Note (without the please): ‘we will not accept electronic signatures nor print-outs modified in any way’ (that’ll be blocked by another dept, I’m sure). I click the link to the LAR.
Try a second time. Blank page.
I start over from scratch, skipping the Ride on the Reading.
The home page reloads with a blank blue box. For some reason (obviously those Italian genes kicking in again), I scroll over the empty box. Like magic, links start to appear. I am on my way, back to Documents and over to Printer. So satisfied, I go play the lottery.
My number? The time of day plus the number of hours the entire transaction has taken (not including the fax time), spilling into 83 hours (and counting).