December 6, 2011, 10:09 AM

Please, not another password

Online retailers that require a password to check out are rubbing salt in this consumer’s wounds.

Web site passwords are becoming a daily hassle. I’ve been banking online with Chase for a decade, but over the weekend Chase.com wouldn’t recognize my password, so I had to change it. What’s that about?

It’s gotten worse since I got an iPhone. It’s bad enough that periodically iTunes encounters the same kind of amnesia about my password that afflicted Chase.com this weekend. But the worst part is that many web sites seem to have trouble communicating with my mobile phone. Take my e-mail service provider, Comcast. It will deliver e-mail to my iPhone, but not send it. When I try to send it, I get a message saying that the Comcast server doesn’t recognize my password. I called Comcast, and all they could suggest is that I change my password, so I did. Still doesn’t work.

Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re an online retailer and you’re requiring consumers to register with your site—and select the dreaded user name and password—don’t. At least not when I shop at your site. The last thing I need is another password to remember.

I was complaining about passwords today to a colleague who said she simply uses the same password everywhere. That’s real secure. But she’s got plenty of company. Almost 20% of consumers use the same password for more than five accounts, according to a survey released today by Consumer Reports.

I’ve heard anecdotally from e-retailers that requiring registration leads a fair number of consumers to abandon a purchase. I’ve made a note to have a story in Internet Retailer magazine in early 2012 that provides data on that. Some web sites recognize me when I return without my signing in, using cookies I suppose. That works for me.

If there’s a good reason for web retailers to require registration, enlighten me. Feel free to enter your comments in the space provided below. But, unless there’s a really good reason, please don’t make me select yet another password that either I will forget or that your web server will refuse to recognize at a time that’s sure to be supremely inconvenient for me.

Leave that kind of frustrating service to banks and cable providers. At least, with them, consumers are used to it.

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