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Newegg Rolls Out Login Page Featuring Inaccessible CAPTCHA, Locks Out Blind and Visually Impaired Customers

June 23, 2009 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Responding to a report from a blind Newegg customer, an inaccessible CAPTCHA was discovered Tuesday in the company’s login process for all customers.

“Wow, well, until I can get a hold of someone at NewEgg, guess I’m not going to be able to buy stuff there.  They now have a CAPTCHA in order to log in to one’s account!!!!!” said Tina Ektermanis, a blind college student in Colorado who wanted to order two SD memory cards. “It’s interesting that if you submit without filling in the code, it takes you to the old page, without the captcha, but we need to let them know about this before they put it in place for everything requiring a log in.”

A statement on the company’s login page claims “If you are visually impaired and are having difficulty navigating this site, please call our Customer Support line via our toll free number (800) 390-1119.”

Ektermanis said a friend of hers tried to order products from the company shortly before Christmas 2008 but the request was declined despite the stated promise of assistance.

Mia, a customer service representative, confirmed this lack of assistance during an investigative telephone call to the stated number. “I apologize, but we are not able to take orders by phone,” she said after the unusable validation code was explained.

“Our customer service representatives are supposed to help. This help covers everything, including placing orders and processing returns,” said Vincent Agular, Contact Division Manager in Newegg’s customer service department. He said he is requesting follow up from the company’s web team in light of the availability of numerous alternatives that provide both security and reasonable accommodations.

All blind and visually impaired Newegg customers and potential customers, and those who care about us, are asked to submit feedback to the company’s webmasters asking that they make an accessible alternative to their visual CAPTCHA available right away so as to allow everyone to transact business on terms of equality.

2 opinions on “Newegg Rolls Out Login Page Featuring Inaccessible CAPTCHA, Locks Out Blind and Visually Impaired Customers

  1. I guess it's getting easier to know about blind people using Mozilla Firefox and WebVisum to crack CAPTCHA's without spamming the site than to hear about people taking away those annoying images. At least, WebVisum helps deaf-blind people as well!!! I am not deaf-blind but know, by experience after creating that petition against Yahoo!, that audio CAPTCHA's are not a good choice, so long live WebVisum and sorry for people who want to block "blind robots"…

  2. Thank you for your comments about Newegg’s log-in CAPTCHA. We at Newegg want to make our website accessible for everyone, including our visually challenged visitors. To demonstrate our commitment, just recently Newegg was awarded the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification for implementing Deque System’s Worldspace product. Newegg voluntarily implemented the CAPTCHA on our website. We always appreciate suggestions that make our site more user-friendly and since becoming aware of your comments we have installed the audio CAPTCHA for your use.

    We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience the CAPTCHA may have caused you. The purpose of the CAPTCHA is not to make the login and authentication process more difficult. The primary purpose is to protect our customers from hackers and to prevent unauthorized people from writing a script and brute forcing a password attack on customer accounts. This is a best practice security measure that many online retail companies have instituted, including industry leaders like Microsoft and others. We trust this will provide you better assurance over your transaction activity. If you have any difficulty with anything regarding the Newegg site, please call our Customer Support line via our toll free number (800) 390-1119. Thank you for your patronage and patience.

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