Sunday, October 9, 2011

What do you mean you still don't know what we mean?

So, I'm chatting with a friend about people's quality of work and we were laughing about some random things when he mentioned my earlier post about the Amtrak "Downeaster". He asked me if I'd ever tried it again. "Nope, never did." So, while were talking on the phone, I decide to try it.

We had a good bunch of laughs about this again. I really wonder how crap like this can make it through the most basic of software development processes.

How did it go? Like this.

I go to the website http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/ and enter into the "fare finder" the same basic information. I put in "boston", "December 1" as a departure and "portland, me" as a destination and include "December 10" as the return date.


Here's the input screen:


How simple is that? Not easy to screw it up! Oh but wait! We have professional monkeys writing this code! What do I get when I hit "Next"? TWO errors:

"Problem with Station or City Name"?  WTF? The first screen says clearly Boston on it. Obviously "Portland ME" made sense, it parsed that and figured out "POR" as the three digit code. Ok, so what's wrong with "Boston"? The error message says "select a station from the lists provided". Oh goodie. Here we go again! So, while we're both on the phone laughing at this stupid crap, I click the link for "Station List" and get the same popup list... Ok, let's see what's under "B" for Boston....

Ok, I can choose any one of four entries for "Boston" oh... except that the *ONLY* choice I can make for a trip to Maine (after all, this is the "Downeaster" I'm booking my ride on) is "Boston's North Station", guess "Boston" isn't clear enough still. 


Ok, so that's stupid *S*T*I*L*L*.


Let's look at the second error. The year automatically picked last year? Was someone out to lunch when they coded this part? We're almost apoplectic talking about this as we do this.


So, while we're talking, he sees the banner on the screen adverising "Specials & Promotions" and there's a two-for-one package so he clicks on it and gets the following screen:
Nice! Errrr.... How do you book it? Hmmm.... Not a single button that will take you to any screen that will allow you to book the trip. But they do tell you what "train numbers" get the discount. Great, and that information is useful how?


I think I'll drive.

1 comment:

  1. I think I now know why Mainers say "you can't get there from here." :-|

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