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Homeplus, Do You Want My Business? UPDATE: Yes, It Seems You Do! (And Emart Too!) Er, Maybe Not?

UPDATE #2: You can register, but as of right now (24 January) you’re not going to be able to actually order. See here for more information, and further updates.

It’s really pretty cool that foreigners can sign up for home delivery of groceries from Tesco/Homeplus.

(It strikes me as a sad sign of how bloody low my expectations have sunk that I find it exciting and cool that the same commercial services available to everyone else in the country are made available to us. It’s so little trouble to make a site basically accessible, but so few companies do it. So anyway, yes, it’s sad, but I still can’t help but say, “Cool.”)

But it’s really NOT cool that to register an account, I have to enter my Alien Registration Number ID# and my name to match. (Do my grocery purchases really need to be tracked against my legal ID? Does everyone’s?)

But this becomes especially uncool when the name on my Alien Registration Card is too long to enter into the blank provided.

So will I get access to the Homeplus website? I guess I’ll have to call them tomorrow and ask. Maybe someone will pretend like they give a crap and want my business, and find a way to set up an account for me?

I’ll try, but this is me not holding my breath.

UPDATE: It’s resolved, I have an account at Homeplus (and, incidentally, one at Emart as well, which was easier by far, though I have reasons for wanting both). So I guess Homeplus DOES indeed want our business, or at least, someone there doesn’t want to be embarrassed by denying us access! Any foreigners with names 21 or more characters long should be able to register now, and you owe it all to Lime.

Wanna know why?

This afternoon, Lime called Homeplus and talked to someone at the service center. The discussion went something along the lines of her saying, “Hey, look, Gord’s got his Alien Registration Card number right, it’s just your website only allows 20 character-long names in Roman letters.”

“Really? Let me try enter that in our system…” (And after about five minutes of Lime spelling it, respelling sections of it, and finally the lady on the other end getting the spelling, the lady saying this:) “Oh! I can’t type it all! There’s not enough space!”

“Exactly. And that means any foreigner with a name longer than 20 characters cannot register on your site. And you can’t have their e-shopping business.”

“Ah. Well, I’m going to talk to the tech guys and see if we can get this sorted out.”

The lady called back a while later to say, “Oh, we’re really sorry, but it’s a website issue, and it’s going to take a long time to sort out, there’s nothing we can do, it’s unfortunate, we’re really sorry, but, um…” In other words, We’re not gonna really fix this anytime soon, so could you please piss off?

So Lime got creative. She sent an email to the Homeplus Head Office (or, well, someone) and she said, essentially, “You know, I know all these foreigners who want to do online grocery shopping, and I told them Homeplus is the best. And then one of them tried to register and he couldn’t. Not because he’s a foreigner, but because your stupid website limits foreigners’ names to 20 characters or fewer. 23 characters? No registration. It’s a tiny software change, and it’s not being made, and I have to say, it’s really embarrassing for me, it’s so stupid, and you know, I’m pretty sure these foreigners who are being turned away from your website are going to start blogging complaints about it. Can’t you do something to prevent the embarrassment?”

A couple of hours later, the lady called back with good news. “It turns out it’s all fixed! Your foreigner friends should be able to register now!”

And I was. And you should be too, thanks to Lime’s strategic thinking and creativity. Excellent work, Lime!

(Though, the one drawback? You can’t order any alcohol on the website. Nor any of that lovely wheat beer Emart’s been carrying. None of it. The major irony is that despite the fact you’re required to use your national ID number or alien registration number — ie. to demonstrate who you are, and, by the very nature of your ID including your birth date, demonstrate your age — with every login, everyone knows that kids can easily sign in under their parents’ IDs, and often do, so you still can’t order alcohol on their website.

(At least, I’m assuming that’s why there’s a consistent restriction on selling alcohol on these sites. I might be wrong, but it seems weird, given how readily available alcohol is in most shops here.)

I’ll try do up a guide to registering and a vague guide to the website, for anyone who is interested in following suit. Because, believe me, ordering your groceries online really beats going down to the shop and wrangling with the ajummas just to get by. For those who just cannot wait to give it a try, one word of advice:

When you enter your name into the registration page, enter it exactly as you see it on your alien registration card. Which is not just to say enter the full name, in the exact order shown (ie. family name, first name, middle/other names) but also to say that, and yes, this is the thing that held me back, it is CASE-SENSITIVE and your name needs to be in ALL CAPS. That is, I had to enter SELLAR GORDON ALEXANDER, not Sellar Gordon Alexander.

Stafford, that should work for you. Let me know whether it does, and I’ll proceed on writing a signup howto soon.

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