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How Could You Possibly Screw This Up?

I received an auto-renewal message from, a website I’ve used for years. It’s where I find most of the stock photos I use for my blog posts. According to the email, my subscription's ending within the next seven days and the company would like me to verify my payment information to ensure a smooth transaction.

Unfortunately, a Nigerian prince recently mistook my credit card for his and the attempted transaction triggered my bank to issue me a new card. While I’m grateful that the card company identified this fraudulent activity, I must now update all of my auto-renewal accounts… which sucks.

Ok, back to my expiring subscription. Knowing that I have a new credit card, I log onto my account in order to update my payment information. But, there’s a problem…

I can’t find where to update my payment information anywhere on the site.

Are you kidding me? After about five minutes of searching the site I come up empty. Nothing on my account information page. Nothing on the invoice page. Nothing anywhere. Not even a way to search for it. This has to be a frequently asked question, right? I shouldn’t be wasting my time figuring out how to pay a vendor.

Then I asked a colleague to search the site. Clearly, I’m not thinking clearly. She browses the site and comes up empty as well. Ha! I’m not crazy.

Fotolia, don’t you want my money?

Next, I call their “help” line. The only option available was to leave my information and an “engineer” would call me back. How long would it take for someone to get back to me?

Every business has barriers to success. These are flaws that prevent them from achieving their goals. What’s interesting to me is that business leaders are almost always aware of the problems but don’t do anything to fix them. And, of course, sometimes they aren’t aware of them at all.

When I take on a new project, I typically uncover a few barriers to success and reveal them to my client. They love this little added bonus because the issues are usually something simple. Something that can be fixed easily. Sometimes they just need someone like me to call them out on it. Stop doing this and make more money! Actually it's more like this: "Stop doing this or you'll piss off your customers."

The Fotolia situation is the first time that I’ve encountered a business that makes it nearly impossible to pay them. That’s kind of a critical part of their business model and customer experience, don’t you think? I can’t be the first customer who’s run into this problem.

How could they possibly screw this up? And why won't they fix it?

As of this writing, Fotolia hasn’t called me back, so I've decided to let my subscription lapse. I wonder if they’ll ever figure it out? Then again, I don’t really care. There are too many alternatives.

Your customers won’t be tolerant of your flaws. They won’t call in. They won’t complain. They won’t put up with your B.S. and why should they? They’ll just leave.

Figure out your barriers to success and remove them. Have someone you trust to go through your entire customer experience and report back on the friction points. Every business has them, but only successful businesses are dedicated to fixing them.

Don’t be your own worst enemy.


Need help identifying your customer-facing flaws? I can help. Contact me at

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