Got this message in my inbox this afternoon:

Hi Chad,

Thanks for entering our Sun Run 2005 Contest. Unfortunately you didn’t
win the grand prize; however, you won a secondary prize of 1 month free
cooler rental, 3 free 18.5L Spring water bottles and 1 free case of 12 –
500mL bottles.

To claim your prize you need to call me at my direct line [snip for privacy].

If you need to rent a water cooler it is valid O.A.C.

Thanks,

JOHN DOE
Sales Representative – British Columbia
Canadian Springs Water Company
[snip for privacy]
www.canadiansprings.com

Pleasantly suprised at first, I then took a moment to browse their website to determine what cooler I would ‘rent’ for free.

First thing I noticed was a slight usability issue when flash not installed (coincidence that I had not yet installed the flash plugin in Firefox 1.0.4). Essentially, an entire image is loaded as the page:

Canadian Springs Webpage

Sure you’re all saying, “why don’t you just install flash, it looks much better with flash”. My answer: that’s not the point here.

<MAP NAME="home">
	<area shape="rect" coords="200,292,410,378" href="delivery.cfm" title="On-line billing" alt="On-line billing" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="414,396,526,420" href="deliverycalendars.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="0,388,233,420" href="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" target="_blank" alt="" >
	<area shape="poly" coords="386,228,566,228,566,278,386,278,386,228" href="abCustomers.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="poly" coords="193,228,333,228,333,278,193,278,193,228" href="bcCustomers.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="624,396,686,420" href="careers.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="535,396,611,420" href="contact.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="637,242,686,265" href="tour.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="582,242,631,262" href="education.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="30,242,119,265" href="order.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="281,187,618,224" href="whatsnew.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
	<area shape="rect" coords="633,58,734,200" href="intro_offer.cfm" target="_top" alt="" >
</MAP>

followed by

if ( plugin ) {
	document.write('<OBJECT classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"');
	document.write(' codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=5,0,0,0" ');
	document.write(' ID=home WIDTH=750 HEIGHT=420>');
	document.write(' <PARAM NAME=movie VALUE="home_0505.swf"> <PARAM NAME=menu VALUE=false> <PARAM NAME=quality VALUE=high> <PARAM NAME=bgcolor VALUE=#FFFFFF> ');
	document.write(' <EMBED src="home_0505.swf" menu=false quality=high bgcolor=#FFFFFF ');
	document.write(' swLiveConnect=FALSE WIDTH=750 HEIGHT=420');
	document.write(' TYPE="application/x-shockwave-flash" PLUGINSPAGE="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash">');
	document.write(' </EMBED>');
	document.write(' </OBJECT>');
} else if (!(navigator.appName && navigator.appName.indexOf("Netscape")>=0 && navigator.appVersion.indexOf("2.")>=0)){
	document.write('<IMG SRC="images/home.gif" WIDTH=750 HEIGHT=420 usemap="#home" BORDER=0>');
}

Now, why do I consider this a usability issue? Well, if you look closely you’ll notice that the image map creates hotspots on this home.gif which essentially create links for the site navigation. However, the user’s still caught on that imaginary popup that appears to have focus.

Big deal? Not really. Just found this strange and unexpected thats all.

Back to my original intent for this entry… as I perused through the canadian springs website I couldn’t help but notice:

Renting or Purchasing a Cooler?

Join the Canadian Springs Water Club and receive the rest of the month’s service for FREE! Plus, get 48 free 500 mL bottles as a sign up bonus!

I’m starting to think that my ‘prize’ wasn’t so much of a prize after all! Not that I am suprised by this. My perception of these water companies is such that they hook you into a water deal that makes it virtually impossible to drink up all the water they deliver each month which essentially locks you into renting their water cooler. If you’re the water company, this is a great deal! If you’re the consumer you may just end up acting as a water depot full of extra water you can’t drink fast enough.

I suspect one needs a family to make this worthwhile.

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