Sometimes the ARRL just doesn’t get it

ARRLWhen I renewed my ARRL membership, I must have submitted the order twice because there were two charges for $76 on my credit card bill. At first, I was going to ask for a refund from the ARRL, but then thought, what the heck, I’ll just let it go and have four years of membership, not just two.

I wanted to make sure, though, that I had actually gotten four more years of membership. So, I went to arrl.org, logged in, and went searching for my membership expiration date. I must have wasted about 15 minutes looking for it. Finally, it occurred to me that it might be printed on the electronic membership card that you can print out. Sure enough, it was there, and I was able to confirm that I was good for another four years.

I emailed the ARRL about this, noting that this should be shown on the member’s profile somewhere. I shortly received a reply from a member services representative, “Thank you for your inquiry. The IT Dept are working on adding the expiration date to the web site. If you log in, then click on edit profile, then edit groups, the number of days left on your membership is listed there.”

I replied to that e-mail, noting that having to go to the groups page for this information is definitely not the most intuitive thing to do. Not only that, it doesn’t really say explicitly when my membership expires. All it really tells me is that I am a member of the “full members” group for another 1,500 days or so.

Now that I was on the groups page, I noticed some other things. This page tells me that I am a member of the following groups:

  • Volunteer Examiners
  • Michigan
  • Assistant Section Managers
  • Teachers
  • Instructors
  • Great Lakes
  • Michigan
  • Full Regular
  • Members

This raised a number of questions:

  1. Why am I in the Michigan group twice?
  2. What’s the difference between instructors and teachers?
  3. Why do most of these groups have no information on the page I get taken to when I click the “Go Now!” link.
  4. Why can’t I “unjoin” these groups if I want to?

I hate to sound harsh, but it seems to me that this page is pretty close to being useless. It certainly is useless to me. When I e-mailed the ARRL this list of questions–noting that these were rhetorical questions–I got an e-mail back offering to “help with your questions.”

<SIGH> Sometimes the ARRL just doesn’t get it.

Comments

  1. Larry Koziel says:

    I have an opinion about one question. It could be that “instructor” is someone who conducts classes of people preparing for license exams, while “teacher” is someone who teaches K-12 students. I don’t know that that’s definitely the answer, but that’s my guess.

    I agree though, that the electronic services that the League attempts to provide leave a lot to be desired.

    Larry K8MU

  2. Dan,
    The redesign of arrl.org was a real mess from day one. They have managed to fix quite a few things but there are still issues. (How long has it been?)

    73, Bob

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Websites are rarely perfect. Since I do websites for part of my living, I don’t like to throw stones. What got me was the explanation, like that was supposed to be sufficient. The first person to respond should have just said something along the lines of, “Good point. We’re working on fixing that issue.” She should not have told me that I could have figured it out by going to the groups page, which is not something a normal user would usually think of doing.

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