Thursday, January 18, 2007

HelloPeter web site disabled by its own colour scheme

It's amazing how quickly a bad colour scheme can ruin a web site. What's more amazing is how slow these guys are at fixing the problem. Surely it can't be that difficult to change a few colour selections in a Cascading Style Sheet? It doesn't even take that long!
It turns out that the web development was done by "Bonzai Web Design" who can't spell Bonsai, even though they have a tree on their web page. Presumably they got the name from the Bonzai Linux distribution. They also don't know that the plural of "site" is "sites" not "site's", but what do you expect from a company whose reputation is about to be sunk along with its client?
Judging by the voting (see results in image above) the regular customers hate it. I'm sure the companies who receive complaints think its brilliant because no one can read the complaints. The mind boggles.
Grey text may be a cool fashion statement, but it's not particularly readable, and is the universally accepted colour for "greyed out" or "disabled" features. The choice of colour thus gives the instant impression of a site that doesn't work, or is somehow disabled. To make matters worse, all the adverts are still displayed in the usual loud colours, so the overall effect is that the ads are highlighted and the complaint text is ignored. What were they thinking?
Update 25 Jan 2007: it turns out that the style sheet was "borrowed" from The Bonzai web team left a comment in the style sheet that reads "/* dinersclub css */", and the design of the Diners Club site looks similar, if not better. Given that grey and blue are part of the Diners Club corporate logo, their site works. They also have a FAQ section, which is missing from the HelloPeter site.


Anonymous said...

Ive noticed they have less complaints than normal. Is this an indication of less traffic?

Anonymous said...

Indeed. I agree with the layout and lack of response by the HelloPeter team.

What I also find of interrest is the number of votes... HelloPeter claim 6million visitors a day to their site, well, then how come only 819 votes have been cast? Apathy? I doubt it. More like overinflated site stats or perhaps bonZai do not know how to count?

I remember when HP displayed a banner showing SA site popularity, always in the top 5, HOWEVER, clicking on the banner then showed a few thousand visits daily.

The banner was removed.

I wonder why?

Unknown said...

As a long-time user of the site I have to agree with you.
Their website design company must be real amateurs. I can pull a better site out of my ass.
I'll go back to their site when they've fixed it. It should only take them about another month or so..

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with the previous comments, in particular the stats. Their claim that they have 6 million visitors is absolutely false. What they apparently do is count every page view including every link called from the page - i.e. there are about 90 images on the page (every tiny jpg - even lines, corners etc). So every refresh adds about 90-100 "views" in their mind. That was the problem when they started displaying "hits" per page last until they received lots of complaints. It irritated me that they never did acknowledge their own shortcomings. They have said "We received complaints about the counter", they never admitted that the counter was wrong.

I wonder if it is just pure aggression on their part to their visitors, or lack of IT knowledge. Based on the new site, and its many bugs I think it is lack of understanding. By bugs, I'm not referring to the "developers" lack of understanding of screen ergonomics, but many genuine bugs in the new system. Last time I checked I could not even log on via Firefox to change my profile.

However, I have to say I use the system to get results - some "customers who care" actually do respond and sort out my problems.

Anonymous said...

Good article, but you're a bit of a ponce, aren't you? You can't even read the terms of use when signing up to, one of which states that you CANNOT USE HELLOPETER.COM TO PROMOTE OTHER WEBSITES. It's a concept even a 6 year old child could grasp.

They've improved the site alot since the unveiling, where it looks like they've removed the cataract-type film and increased the contrast. Yep, the web design company was obviously on crack when they came up with the design. Other than that, HP is a brilliant site that is helping with SERVICE issues.

And I'm willing to bet that this comment will not be published because I'm not agreeing with you. And that's fine too :P

Donn Edwards said...

If you think I'm trying to use to promote my blog, then you are mistaken.

Putting references in a complaint to a blog entry is designed to put more pressure on the company being complained about.

In the case of the HP complaint it obviously made them nervous enough to want to delete the reference.

I think HelloPeter is brilliant, even though their current site design sucks.

Anonymous said...

you're not using HP to promote your blog? What utter twaddle! In every single one of your posts on HP, you're flogging your blog!
Who cares whether it "applies more pressure to the company". Let's see, which is going to have more impact - which is viewed by thousands of people and companies a day, or your blog, which is viewed by...dozens of people a day. Hmmmmm......gee.

Donn Edwards said...

I provide links from each of my blog postings to HelloPeter, so thir Google rankings go up. The URLs in my posting don't benefit in the same way.

They take users dirctly to the individual article, not the front page of my blog. So it's hardly promotion.

If HelloPeter had the ability to post comments such as yours, as well as pictures, there would be no need for me to blog it at all.

I have no interest in getting anyone to read my blog, other than the person being complained about. Most of the visits to my blog come from Google searches about topics that interest users.

Donn Edwards said...

I read the terms of use and it makes no reference to web sites.

Their terms of use state:
"Please refrain from posting sexually explicit and foul language in comments you make, and please do not post any false, misleading, slanderous, libellous, or inaccurate information about others on We review comments looking for inappropriate material, and will delete such information. For your own security, please do not post your email address, phone number or address in your comment. Companies Who Respond on will have access to this information and will therefore be able to contact you.

In the event you violate these Terms and Conditions, has the right to terminate your access to the site and take whatever other steps we deem necessary. For further information, please see our disclaimer and privacy policy. By registering with the, you are agreeing to these Terms and Conditions and you also give your consent to the way we may handle your personal data in that policy."

Even Google's site search returns one page on the quiery "promote web page"

Anonymous said...

you also give your consent to the way we may handle your personal data in that policy

Guess what - that includes your posts and the contents thereof!

Donn Edwards said...

Oh sure. It would be nice if the site had a warning about posting URLs. I have searched quite hard to find anything mentioning mentioning other web sites.

If the web designers wanted to, they could do a check for "http://" or similar strings and post a warning when you submit the complaint.

Oud soldaat said...

I installed a PVR and two Linksyss Wireless Routers at Peter Cheales's house / office during August 2007. Mr. Cheales was so impressed with our services, he encouraged people to make use of us in his newsletter sent out on 27 August '07. Everything worked 100% until one day in January when one router's data got corrupted during a generator installation at his office. Although Mr. Cheales did not have any form of surge or UPS protection, the hardware supplier exchanged the unit free of charge. I configured the router and re-installed it the same day. In addition I warned Mr. Cheales about the risk of running generators on a unprotected system and quoted him for online UPS's.
Shortly thereafter the other router lost it's configuration data and I immediately went back to Mr. Cheales's residence (74km's one way) to reconfigure the unit. When I had to go back a fourth time in two weeks (all free of charge), I took the faulty unit to the supplier to test. Two days thereafter, they suggested I bring in both routers for configuration and testing and again I drove to Mr. Cheales's office, collected the router and dropped it at the supplier in Rivonia.
The next day, both the supplier and myself received threats that we would be "dealt with" in the next Hellopeter Newsletter, should this problem not be solved immediately. When the supplier called to collect the unit's 15:00 the next day, I again canceled my plans and drove to Rivonia only to find the units weren't communicating. First thing the next morning (07 February '08), I drove back and collected the unit's in Rivonia, took them to Mr. Cheales's residence / office, connected the unit's, tested communication and explained to Peter Cheales what went wrong.
Everyone finally happy? Yes up to the point when I invoiced Peter Cheales for 2 call-out's and 1 hour labour (+/- R700). This after I canceled all my installations on numerous occasions, drove to Mr. Cheales's residence in Saxonworld seven times, collected the faulty hardware and took it to the distributor three times and spent more than 15 hours at his office solving his problem.
When Peter Cheales phoned me later the same day to complain about us invoicing him, I clearly explained that although I was prepared to drop everything and loose the income for several days, I at least expected to recover my time and fuel expenses.
The next day Shelly from his office phoned to inform me that we have been removed from the "companies who respond" list even though we paid the annual fee for this privilege. When I asked why, I was told Peter Cheales reserves the right to choose who may respond to customer complaints and who not. Which clearly indicates there are three categories on the website. Those who are forced to pay the annual fee to be allowed to respond, those who refuse to pay a fee to respond to customer complaints and those who Peter Cheales decided are not allowed to respond?
Ironically enough we were about to renew our "subscription" for another year to be "allowed" to respond on the Hellopeter website, because we believed in what the site and Peter Cheales appeared to stand for.

Just a final thought: If Peter Cheales had an issue with our service or fees, why didn't he just use his own website to complain and give us the opportunity to respond to his complaint like everyone else who uses his site for this purpose?

Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed in Peter Cheales and even though I believe in and promote good service, I can no longer recommend as a fair and honest forum to resolve customer complaints. And yes, even though we will probably be crucified in the next hellopeter news letter and since I'm no longer "allowed" to respond to comments, I decided to let unsuspecting users know what they're letting themselves in for.