Friday Funny: the evil gas pump

My friend Bill wrote,

In our class, you told an amusing story relating to poorly designed user interfaces. The example you used was pay-at-the-pump card readers, where the user has to interpret some convoluted diagram to insert the credit card properly, so that the mag-strip is read.

I pulled into a gas station today and sure enough the pump had the exact card reader technology you described. But, my purchase experience was not without the required dissatisfaction. I accidentally selected the wrong fuel grade. On every gas pump I use, the grade choices are listed sequentially from left-to-right from lowest to highest octane. Not this pump, this pump had the choices in the exact opposite order: far left was highest octane, instead of economy, which I wanted to purchase. I selected high octane by mistake.

I wonder sometimes if stuff like this is poor design and/or poor implementation--or if it's a trick to sell more premium gas. The left pump is always the cheapest; it's a de facto standard. And now you feel cheated. This thinking got them an extra $1 this time but you'll never return to this station so they lost a customer for lifetime.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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