A survey of 2,400 UK online shoppers commissioned by MoreComputers.com has revealed the irritation many feel with the practice of ‘philfing’, or adding hidden charges on online sales.

The term ‘philfing’ stands for ‘purposely hiding what I’m looking for’, and the survey found that 93% of UK web users are annoyed by such hidden charges.

Other e-commerce practices which irritated shoppers included:

  • Having to register before buying – this annoyed 57% of those surveyed, while 14% said this would make them abandon a purchase.
  • 35% found hidden delivery costs annoying, while this would prevent 64% from buying from a website.
  • No phone number being supplied for the site annoyed almost everyone, and rightly so. 48% found this annoying, while 50% would never purchase anything from such a site.
  • Strangely, 36% found the type of ‘people who bought this, also bought…’ information typical of Amazon annoying, while 5% said this would put them off buying.

Most of the practices labelled as annoying in this survey are things which no respectable e-commerce operator should consider doing, although you’ll be surprised at some of the names that do hide details that are key to the transaction.

Establishing customers’ trust in the buying process is essential, and is difficult to re-establish once it has been broken. Not providing a phone number or hiding extra charges until the customer has gone through the checkout process is guaranteed to break this trust. This is simply about understanding and managing consumer expectations

We’re on the verge of publishing our annual Online Retail report, which some of you will be familiar with, and it deals almost exclusively with this issue. It will benchmark the top UK online retailers in this area (hidden shipping fees, etc) and is packed full of recommendations. Keep an eye out for it.

Further reading:

Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2006