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Input Checking & Price Shopping

May 15, 2003

This morning as I dutifully hopped onto to order my copy of Jeffrey Zeldman’s new Designing With Web Standards and bump his sales rank of 89 up even further, a few little nits popped up that need picking.

The Canadian equivalent of a zip code is called a Postal Code, and comes in the format A1A 1A1 (where A’s are letters and 1’s are numbers). This standard has been around forever, and only a few possible variations exist. The correct separator is a space; however, hyphens, periods, and even no space at all are some of the more popular deviations.

I’m fond of using a hyphen myself. It’s been how I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. told me this was invalid though, and refused to process the form until I replaced my hyphen. The programming logic to account for this variant is so simple that it makes me wonder how this got past Amazon’s quality control; it’s on the same level as forcing someone to enter their credit card as ‘4123412341234123’ rather than ‘4123 4123 4123 4123’.

According to Jeffrey, the book is making its way to the various bookstores, which means that Amazon is still reporting it as ‘soon to be released’. When pre–ordering a book, I expect it’s going to take some time to reach me, so I don’t need of any sort of priority shipment. Well, Amazon only offers Express and Priority shipping, piling on added expense to the final total. Even for pre–ordered merchandise. Is it too much to add an option for plain old regular post?

Canadians already get screwed on books, price–wise. We pay a premium for American books so that cross–border shopping is discouraged. It’s not uncommon for $20US books to have a sticker price of $35CDN, resulting in over $40 paid for a single book after tax. And those are the cheap ones. My final total at for Jeffrey’s book after shipping and tax were accounted for: $47. ( has a sticker price of $53, which probably works out to well over $60 after GST and shipping)

I’m in San Francisco in a few weeks. Borders is around the corner from where I’m staying. It will be cheaper to import it myself. So much for shopping locally; go Canada.

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