by Andrew Smith on 01/10/06 at 12:48 pm
In South Africa, and particularly on this website, we spend a lot of time highlighting things that don’t work, so I thought I would list some of the websites that buck the trend and deliver a pleasant experience. I’m referring specifically to e-commerce or online systems, where there is a big opportunity to do a bad job.
- Energy.co.za (http://www.energy.co.za)
I can’t believe we spent a year going down to the local Spar to buy pre-paid electricity, when this simple and effective service existed all the time. You register on the site with your metre number and credit card details, and whenever you need to buy electricity you just log in to the site, enter the amount, and an SMS with the token number gets sent to you. Alternatively, you just send an SMS with the amount to a number, and within a few seconds you get a message back. It doesn’t cost anything, works every time, and I can’t think of one good reason not to use it.
- Post Box Renewal (https://poboxes.sapo.co.za)
This one really took me by surprise. Our company post box came up for annual renewal and I noticed a website address on the letter. Unlike just about every other government website I have been to, the interface is stunning and it does exactly what you would expect. I registered my details, gave my credit details, and my post box was renewed. I could even print an official invoice from my records. I have just received this year’s renewal notice (a whole 4 months in advance!), and I know the process is once again going to be painless.
- SARS e-filing (http://www.sarsefiling.co.za/)
Unfortunately the look and feel of this site is not quite on the level of the Post Office, but SARS has again outdone themselves with an excellent service. If filling out forms and hoping they get them on time stresses you out, then I would recommend investigating this site. SARS is expanding the types of returns you can submit over the internet, but so far we use it for some of our personal tax returns, PAYE, VAT and Provisional Tax. The amounts are calculated for you, and the payments can be made via debit order or by some technical wizardry where the amount appears in your own internet banking for you to confirm.
It’s a pity I could only come up with these 3 gems. I’m sure there must be more?
Andrew Smith is the pedantic systems guy behind Live Alchemy, a SA e-commerce company. Andrew writes for Ideate in an attempt to make the world a more efficient place. View more articles by Andrew Smith.