Jasper van KuijkNovember 25, 202210:30

    At the tip editor of de Volkskrant you can report abuses. I received an abuse about our own newspaper, from Reader Herman: ‘I suspect an abuse at the customer care of DPG Media. See the mail below.’ Because it’s good to keep looking at ourselves critically in these times, I dived into it.

    Reader Herman reads the newspaper via the website and suddenly he gets a pop-up on every page with an offer to become a subscriber. But he already is. Fortunately, you can check an option in the pop-up: ‘I’m already a subscriber’. Unfortunately, despite repeatedly checking the pop-up keeps popping up.

    So reader Herman asks the Volkskrant helpdesk for help. He sends an email back with three pages of explanation. And if the word internet browser is printed in italics at the beginning of such an instruction, then you know that you are going to get an explanation about everything. Italicized is the helpdesk equivalent of the nurse who comes in and shouts far too loudly and emphatically ‘We’re going to wash you, Mr De Jong!’. In this case: ‘We recommend that you clear the cookies and cache of your internet browser.’ (Cookies and cache were surprisingly not italicized.)

    The underlying problem appears to be that DPG, the publisher of, among others de Volkskrantbut also from AD and Dragonfly, has rolled out a new login system. Logging in no longer takes place in the app or via the site of the relevant publication, but via https://login.dpgmedia.nl. But Reader Herman still had to unlearn the old login procedure in his internet browser, by throwing away the cookies, emptying the cache and removing the old login name and password from any password manager.

    In the e-mail intended to be helpful, an attempt has been made to provide every step for solving the problem for every conceivable browser and operating system, for computer and telephone, and assuming that someone is holding a laptop for the first time. And then the instructions for taking a screenshot if it all fails: ‘You can take a screenshot with the Snipping Tool (found under Accessories in the start menu). Apple: cmd (⌘) + shift (⇧) + 3.” WE ARE GOING TO WASH YOU MR DE JONG!

    There are also some overly formal and therefore less clear sentences. “Please kindly log in again.” The Volkskrant helpdesk apparently wants to receive a friendly request to log in again.

    It may all be a bit too much for one email. An option could be to put the explanation on a web page and let users indicate which browser and/or which operating system they have and then only show the explanation there. And adapt the level of detail of the explanation to the answer to the question: ‘Have you ever used an internet browser?’

    Jasper van Kuijk on Mastodon: @Jaspervankuijk