When Good QA Goes Bad

Adam Kalsey has a good write-up of some usability mistakes for an ecommerce site. Good stuff.

His write-up reminds me of the time we were testing the very first Borders.com Web site way back in 1998. The Quality Assurance department had a couple of credit card numbers they used to test the ecommerce pages. These cards were authorized so that the fraud check would allow them through, but the fulfillment (and actual shipping) was not supposed to happen.

One day, one of my peers in the QA department asked me to run some tests against the new ecommerce system to see if I could break it or find some holes. One of the first tests I came up with and ran was to find the most expensive item in the database. This happened to be a set of 50+ encyclopedias that retailed for $1395.99 each. Of course, you know I had to try it. Yup, I ordered 9999 of these suckers for a before-tax total of $13,958,104.05 just to see what would happen. Would the fraud department catch it?

Thinking nothing of it I went home, assuming my job for the day was done. The next day I was at work running more tests and my boss called me into his office. He said he’d gotten a call for the Fulfillment center in Tennessee asking if someone at the corporate office had placed an order for 10,000 sets of encyclopedias. I laughed out loud and explained to him that the QA team and I were just running some tests and that the order should never have made it to the Fulfillment center.

I can imagine a semi truck with pallets and pallets of encyclopedias pulling up to the building trying to deliver them. The only thing more funny would be the look on the CEO’s face for a $14 million Mastercard bill.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at July 29, 2003 07:04 PM

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