H&R Block bug functional email bug..

I got around to doing my taxes today at H&R Block. I went to the one on the UWS because I read somewhere that that particular office got rave reviews for their service and their knowledgeable tax reps. After my taxes were done, they indeed did a terrific job and I was pretty pleased. I had to cancel a few times to come in and they didn’t get all bent out of shape like my dentist does so extra points for them. I was thinking they would apply a fee to my refund and this was somewhere in the fine print for people who don’t cancel in time. Good for me, this wasn’t the case.

They even sent me a nice email saying some pretty good customer-based stuff. I however noticed, and it was the first thing I read right in the salutation, that they had made a label error. I don’t think anyone or any copy editor scripts a formal letter that starts off with; Dear [First Name-Earl] [Middle Initial-A].

Something tells me they wanted the salutation to be in the format of either:

  • my first name only
  • my first name and last name
  • my first name middle initial and last name
  • My first name

You can see where I’m going with this. There’s also the problem of the salutation being in all caps. Let’s do some functional testing on those emails and put it through the proofreader.




You’re in good hands with Allstate, just don’t try to get a quote from their site.

As of late, I have not been in the mood to browse around sites looking for bugs and providing some light commentary to accompany it, like I’ve kind of been doing back in July. I think these are the times when I’d like to believe that software isn’t buggy by nature, and we live in a happy world where software always works as expected.

Well, studies show that there’s a good ratio people that visit product websites right after viewing the commercial for that product.

So I was watching the Allstate commercial with that stately actor from some show who decided to supplement his income by being the spokesman for an insurance company, and decided to take a walk over to their site to see what they were up to, in terms of site quality. The commercial was well-done. I was even convinced I was in good hands and I didn’t even get the insurance yet. 

I head over to Allstate.com and decide that I want to get a quote; but say to myself what if I put in the wrong zip code to try and get a quote. Well this was certainly the beginning of sorrows, as I didn’t even get through that test case as all of a sudden, scrollbars started showing up without me finishing filing out the form.

Allstate Errors 1

What follows next is a series of mishaps that I’ve landscaped for you to see how buggy just trying to get a quote on this site really is.

Allstate Error 2

In Step A, I’ve tried to get a quote, but did not finish before i started seeing browser display bugs

In Step B, I’ve actually entered in a valid zip code, but when I hit submit, the form does not want to submit so I stay stuck on this screen. This may be due to the sequence A, but who really knows. I just know that this should work. After Step 2, I did get this nasty error in my console

Unsafe JavaScript attempt to access frame with URL http://www.allstate.com/ from frame with URL https://plusone.google.com/_/+1/fastbutton?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allstate.com%2F&size=medium&count=true&annotation=&hl=en-US&jsh=m%3B%2F_%2Fapps-static%2F_%2Fjs%2Fwidget%2F__features__%2Frt%3Dj%2Fver%3DIjHMVWTYCO8.en_US.%2Fsv%3D1%2Fam%3D!uCQzFzhDAFyICoUOFQ%2Fd%3D1%2F#id=I1_1328122409897&parent=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allstate.com&rpctoken=655735623&_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart. Domains, protocols and ports must match. – The Console

In Step C, I get fed up with quote finder and want to find an agent. I enter in an invalid zip code and got the screen from C. Notice what happens here; the validation is completely different and is now happening inside the input boxes. However, I will never know what that validation message is because half of it is hidden, and that input box has onFocus property that instantly deletes this validation message if you place your mouse cursor in the input field.

In Step D, it’s the same deal as Step C, except this time the buttons have totally shifted on me and the layout has changed.

The bug that broke the tester’s back is the bug below when I tried selecting the state with other error states enabled.

AOL Errors 3

You know, any time your form changes on the screen and there is no consistency in functionality, you are certainly going to leave your users confused and unempowered. It never hurts to check your reset button in various forms, especially if there are ajax calls or state changes as you fill out the form.

Tested in:
Windows 7
Chrome v16.0.912.77 m

QA is Exciting

I can’t really tell if this software tester is being serious or not, or if she just needs a vacation. However, I do believe QA can be exciting. If you liked breaking your toys as a kid, you’ll probably enjoy breaking applications as well.

But just between you and me, I think I only broke them when I wanted new ones. I do vaguely remember that there was some enjoyment while committing the act.

Email Testing Tips and Tricks

QA resources are frequently tasked with some kind of email tesing. Usually this consists of making sure that all the links in the emails work, the Subject lines and content is correct, and most importantly the most neglectful aspect of testing, mail client/cross-browser testing.

I’ll limit this discussion to testing emails in Outlook because this is usually where UAT happens with you clients viewing this email. For those that are new to email testing with Outlook, the latest version of Outlook, 2010, similar to Outlook 2007, uses Microsoft Word’s rendering engine to display emails, impacting the appearance of emails.

Microsoft again, is relying on Word rather than Internet Explorer in part for security issues. Thanks to the Component Object Model relationship between Office components, the tool to write formatted emails arrives to Outlook through Word. And it remains unchanged with Outlook 2010.

So what does this mean, when you’re dealing with testing emails that may have to display properly in Outlook 03,07,and 2010 you only have one machine at your disposal to accomplish this goal, You’re best best would be to have Microsoft Office 2003 installed on your machine. But why?

Well, Outlook 2003 uses Hotmail’s rendering engine to display emails, so how can you see how it would in that application. But what about the display in 2007 and 2010?

Try this:

1. Open the email that has arrived in your inbox in Outlook 2003.
2. Save the email as an html file.
3. Open up Microsoft Word 2003 and open up the html file.

What you will see is exactly how that email would display in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 because you are actually using Word’s rendering engine to see the email. The same engine that shows you how crappy the email looks because of a lack of css support.

So there you have it. I know 2003 is quite old, but surprisingly trying to explain to one of your clients who uses Microsoft 2003 to look at emails, why the email looks pretty crappy, may just save you some unnecessary back-and-forth. This is especially important because you can’t actually use Hotmail to see the display for a 2003 mail client anymore, since Hotmail is now Windows Live Mail and they’ve dropped support for a number of properties and a number of key CSS selectors.

So there you have it. Happy Testing!