United cannot match an email address

My friend Sophia Voichehovsky, @sophiavux had quite some experience with the feedback form on the United website. She even filmed the interaction – Watch a UX designer struggle with United’s customer feedback form.

At some point in the process, around minute 4 of the video, she submits the form and gets an inline message:

! Your email address does not match. Please reenter.

Problems

1. It is not clear what it is that the email address does not match.

Watch the whole video to see Sophia actually giving up, visiting her profile, finding out that there is no email address in the profile, adding a new email address, then coming back to the form, filling it in again, and submitting – successfully.

My guess here is that the message wants to tell her that the email address that she entered does not match the email address that the United website is storing in its database. Unfortunately, Sophia’s clairvoyant powers were too week for that.

If the form wants the user to enter the same email address that the website has already stored somewhere, which seems to be the case, this is one of the evilest forms I have ever seen.

2. The second sentence says “Please reenter.” This does not make sense. Why would they want her to enter again the same info that they already reject!? Maybe they mean her to enter another email address.

3. If United do not have an email address for her in the database, why do they show this meaningless message instead of just taking whatever she enters!?

4. If United do have an email address in the database, why do they ask her to enter that email address!? United can just show that address and ask her to change it only if she want to use a different email address.

5. I still wonder at the exclamation mark in the beginning of the message.

Fix

Never ask users to enter information that you already have in store. Show that information. If you do not have the information that you need, take whatever users give you.

18 January 2017 | United Airlines

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