When I was at Microsoft, I worked on the billing system for my product. This was mostly an integration effort with another Microsoft team that specialized in payments. One of things that I worked on was trying to resolve a lot of the problems that our customers had with giving us money. For a myriad of reasons, we did not make it very easy for people to hand money to us. Many of these problems were not ours but that of our partners. You would think that something as simple as handing someone money would be easy but it is not and our customers would constantly get tripped up just trying to do this one simple thing.
Well, this just bit me in the ass. I have another website that I use for personal reasons. Microsoft was handing free domain names and free hosting when I was looking to get it so I signed up with them. My needs were relatively modest so I was perfectly happy to let them handle it. Well it is time for renewal and the free offer is up so they want me to start paying for the service. I have no real issue with this so I tried to log in to figure out how much it would cost me to renew.
Well, I spent at least 15 minutes clicking every possible link but absolutely nowhere can I find information on how much it is going to cost me to renew this domain. How stupid is that? All I want is the price. This is the most basic thing in any sales transaction. Tell me the friggin' price. But this piece of information is NOWHERE to be found. For all I know, they could charge me a million dollars to do this renewal.
The saddest part of this is that this is what almost all of Microsoft's online applications use to get paid. Anyone have any thoughts on why Microsoft can't put a successful online strategy together? If you can't get billing right, what the hell?