When good services go bad

It is so frustrating when a previously reliable and useful service, whether online or off, changes in such a way as to render it almost completely useless.

Case in point: Google Product Search in the UK.

Google Product Search — Froogle as was — used to be a really handy service; mentally filter out eBay (except as a last resort) and a few known dodgy retailers and you’d end up with a list of places in the UK that could sell you whatever it was you were interested in. Okay, it was far from comprehensive and a straight Google search was sometimes required to supplement the results, but it was definitely useful and usable.

Recently though, that has changed.

Same searching, same results list with UK pricing, at first glance it’s the same service. Now start clicking on some of those results and chances are you’ll soon realise what is different: those nice prices with pound signs in front of them in the search results are suddenly transformed into dollar prices with GBP shown in parentheses.

The UK product search has been contaminated with results from US stores.

Yes, I know, those stores will happily ship to the UK. But then you have, in varying degrees, the additional:

  • shipping charge
  • delivery time
  • VAT
  • customs charge
  • courier handling charge
  • grief if the product is faulty and needs returning

UK Product Search should mean just that: products available in the UK.

Not “products that can be shipped to the UK” but “products that are shipped within the UK”.

Or, at the very least, give me the option to search in only UK-based stores.