We Canadians already have a bit of a complex due to the fact that the rest of the world seems to lump us together with the U.S., calling them our big brother. Canadians are sick of being treated like leftovers. So, when certain North American companies leave us (and other international visitors) out of the loop by making it difficult to buy from their websites, they’re losing sales and annoying would-be customers like me.
It’s time for U.S. companies to consistently treat international customers the same way that they treat their compatriots online.
An experience that one of the attendees of our recent Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar shared with us demonstrates the frustrations Canadians face when shopping online: Bill was attempting to purchase a Northwest Airlines flight at NWA.com, so his son could attend a communications workshop in Austin. After going through the process of choosing his flight, seat, and entering his name and credit card information, he realized Northwest’s website had something against foreigners.
In what normally would have been a confirmation email (see thumbnail image), Bill was rejected. He was informed that if he does not have a U.S. billing address, his order wouldn’t be processed. Instead, he would need to go through a long list of bizarre, counterintuitive instructions on how to give them money.
Instead of booking on the homepage…
…he would have to click the “Reservation Center” drop-down menu on the top navigation, then click “Shop for Flights.”
Is there any way he would have figured this out on his own? And if international booking is such an issue, why don’t they just say so right away, or at least offer the same toggle button say that you’re not a U.S. resident on the homepage?
This is just one example of many. I’ve personally encountered countless situations just like this.
Do any of you Canadian or international readers out there prefer not doing business with U.S. companies because of experiences like these?
[Editor's Note: For the sake of transparency, and because we don't want to seem too cool for school, let it be known that we at Future Now have been, at times, just as guilty of cultural bias as other U.S. businesses. Although many of our Canadian friends, clients, readers, and (in Melissa's case) colleagues know we love our neighbo(u)rs to the north, we have occasionally and regrettably missed out on international business. You can read the comments on Melissa's last post for details. As always, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. ]