Stupid QA tricks: Colossal testing oversights

The trick to nipping IT miscues is testing, testing, testing, as these hard-luck lessons in boneheaded quality assurance attest

Where free shipping really, really isn't free

Testing oversight: Widespread glitches in Web site upgrade

Consequence: Clothier J. Crew suffers huge financial losses and widespread customer dissatisfaction in wake of "upgrade" that blocks and fouls up customer orders for a month.

On June 28, 2008, engineers took down the Web site for clothes retailer J. Crew for 24 hours to perform an upgrade. In terms of the results of this effort, one might argue that the site did not in fact come back online for several weeks, even though it was still serving pages.

The company's 10-Q filing summarized the problems: "During the second quarter of fiscal 2008 we implemented certain direct channel systems upgrades which impacted our ability to capture, process, ship and service customer orders." That's because the upgrade essentially prevented site visitors from doing anything other than look at photos of fashionable clothes.

Among the problems reported by customers was this whopper: A man who ordered some polo shirts received, instead, three child-size shirts and a bill for US$44.97 for the shirts, plus US$9,208.50 for shipping. And before you ask, no, they weren't hand-delivered by a princess in an enchanted coach.

As a result, the company temporarily shut down e-mail marketing campaigns designed to drive business to the Web site. It also had to offer discounts, refunds, and other concessions to customers who couldn't correct orders conducted online or who received partial or wrong orders.

But the biggest story is how the Web site upgrade affected the company's bottom line. In a conference call with investors in August, CFO James Scully said, "The direct system upgrades did impact our second-quarter results more than we had anticipated and will also impact our third-quarter and fiscal-year results," according to a transcript of the call.


Testing tip: When your company's bottom line depends on the availability of your Web site, there's no excuse for not running a thorough internal trial to probe the functionality of the entire site before you throw that update live to the world. Bring everyone on the Web team into the office, buy a bunch of pizzas, and tell them to click absolutely everything. And keep full backups of your old site's front and back end, just in case you do somehow push a broken site update live and need to revert to save your company from unmitigated disaster.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags corporate issuesIT management

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Andrew Brandt

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?