Google has launched, yes, yet another brilliant piece of web software. At least I think it’s brilliant, I haven’t actually used it yet. I’m going to keep a running narrative as I go through the process of checking it out (no pun intended, and I won’t be buying anything for real because I have no money).

Signing Up
Upon first reaching Google Checkout, the first thing I see is a friendly little welcome message. There’s also a link to Google’s Tour, if you’d rather get what I’m certainly about to tell you straight from the horse’s mouth.

Find it with Google. Buy it with Google Checkout.

Want a faster, safer and more convenient way to shop on-line? You got it.

Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords.
With Google Checkoutâ„¢ you can quickly and easily buy from stores across the web and track all your orders and shipping in one place.
   
Shop with confidence.
Our fraud protection policy covers you against unauthorized purchases made through Google Checkout, and we don’t share your purchase history or full credit card number with sellers.
   
Control commercial spam.
You can keep your email address confidential, and easily turn off unwanted emails from stores where you use Google Checkout

So after signing in with my Google account, I’m presented with a screen asking for all my billing information. This alone is getting me so excited. The thought of never having to type all this shit in again is thrilling.

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Terms of Service

Next up: reading the Terms of Service. It might be Google, but I still like to know what they can do with my credit card number. The interesting points are:

  • Users must be 18, US residents, and legally able to enter a binding contract (i.e. the Terms of Service).
  • Google is allowed to background and credit check users of Checkout.
  • I may be wrong about this one (the legalese is a little thick), but I do believe Google holds your payment until the seller provides proof of shipment. That’s nice of them.
  • No transferring cash, only buying and selling stuff.
  • Google has the right to limit the amount of money you’re allowed to spend in a given period of time (how much money in how much time isn’t mentioned, which makes me think it probably watches your patterns and keeps an eye out for an increase in spending).
  • You can’t sue them if their system goes down and delays your ability to buy stuff.
  • The security of your user-name and password is your prerogative.
  • If somebody commits fraud by buying stuff with your account, take it up with your credit card, not Google. Google doesn’t refund money from bad transfers, or insure the money they hold on your behalf. That’s the credit card companies’ business.
  • You may have to pay sales taxes sometimes (only as often as any other online shopping).

Trying to buy something

As a demo, I’m going to try to take all the steps of buying stuff from a few stores, right up to the final step of actually paying for it.

OK, I tried to order some wireless headphones from Buy.com, but it didn’t work. I got a cryptic and frustrating message, so I’m giving up on this until tomorrow.

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Helpful Links

Google Checkout: the site itself

mad coupons: I found a page with a whole mess of $10-20 off coupons from a bunch of on-line stores, a-la Google Checkout. I don’t know how long these will last, so use them while you can.

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