It's the Great Cookie Scandal that never was, according to Warehouse Online programmer, Bruce Simpson.
@IDG has been contacted by several users claiming that Simpson's Web-based retail system for the Warehouse was fatally flawed - a response rate no doubt related to Simpson's willingness to dispense advice to others in the past.
The problem with the system,according to our correspondents, is that it stores the contents of a shopper's "trolley" (including product code, price and quantity) on the shopper's own computer, in the Web browser's MagicCookie file.
None of this information is encoded and the Cookie file itself can easily be edited. One correspondent did just that - and wound up with a whacking discount off an AEG oven. But he didn't actually try and make the purchase - whereupon, says Simpson, the ruse would have been detected.
"I've been in this business too long to let things like that through," says Simpson. "The purchase information is stored at the server end as well and is checked at several stages - an attempt to do that would have been discovered after the email confirmation of purchase is made, but the person in question didn't get that far."
Simpson admits the brief furore has led to some changes in the purchasing system ("If the Cookie information doesn't tally with the information at the server end at the checkout stage, the trolley is now automatically emptied.") but says the site will continue to write purchase information to local Cookies.
"I did it that way so that we could check information at the local end if there were any problems early on. The other function of the Cookie is if there are product price changes - we can notify people that the price has changed since the time they made their choice and ask them if they still want to buy it.
"Using Cookies isn't necessarily any less secure than, say a form-based method - someone who knows what they're doing can always save a form as a file, change the form data and submit it."
Simpson says the Warehouse site has drawn "an encouraging response - although people are asking for a greater range of products. The biggest thing we've sold is some computer workstations to the value of about $800. I really didn't think confectionary would work, but we're selling a lot of chocolates."
The Warehouse can be found at http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz