Monday, April 09, 2007

The Tax Man Commeth

It's tax season again, and along with the joys of finding out just how much of your hard-earned money the government has taken so that it can misspend on useless lavish trips for its MPs and their cronies, there's also the joy of filing online. In spite of all of the set of hassles associated with filing taxes online, it is still way better than killing a bunch of trees and mailing them out to the CRA.

That being said, I find it absolutely positively insulting as an IT professional that we have to put up with the crap that is NETFILE. Quite honestly, it looks like it was put together in the Internet Stone Age by a bunch of Waterloo CompSci co-ops who managed to convince their managers that "no, we can't make it work any better, it's just impossible!" The result is NETFILE. Allow me to elaborate on some highlights:

  1. You must enter your SIN with no spaces or dashes. That is a usability faux-pas. Any half-decent system put out today will let you put spaces or dashes in your SIN. It will simply remove those characters from the validation.

  2. The site is ridiculously slow. What the hell are these guys doing in their back-end? Running SQL queries with a bunch of joins to useless tables? Or perhaps they've added some bubble-sorting into their code just for kicks.

  3. You can't change your address when sending your return via NETFILE. And why the hell not? Geez, these guys act like they post to different databases on completely different systems. All you need for a change of address should be key pieces of info, like your SIN, your birthday, and your NETFILE access code. Of course, the best part is that to change your address, you must get an ePass. As part of the registration process for an ePass, the CRC sends a special code to you via snail mail. This means that to change your address, you must get the code sent to your new address so that you can get to the Web page to change your address. Make sense? Nope, there won't be a test on this

  4. NETFILE has hours of operation. If you don't believe me, go here. Now, tell the age of e-commerce, where computers are running 24/7 (wasting fossil fuels, I might add) to provide you with the sheer convenience of round-the-clock shopping, they're telling me that the service is shut down for a certain number of hours? What the hell for? It can't be for maintenance purposes, because it's still the same piece of crap as it was 4 years ago. Oh wait...maybe they have a memory leak in their code and they need to re-start their server once a day to "fix" the problem. That I'll buy.

Oh NETFILE, NETFILE, wonderful Web application that I love to hate. Hopefully one day you'll grow up and will end up under the care of a real developer. Until then, I guess we have to live with you in your sorry, decrepit state. Sigh...

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