Tag Archives: incompetence

Is Ryanair a Mom & Pop Shop?

I was surprised today when attempting to confirm a flight with Ryanair that I was being told my flight details were invalid.  As usual I had copy/pasted in the details so I didn’t think there was much margin for error.

Using a web developer’s insight I guessed the validation of my reservation code contained some invisible whitespace and that this was causing the error.  Unbelievable this turned out to be the case!

Stripping whitespace from form input fields is basic, website 101 best practice stuff.  Typical users who don’t have a background in development are extremely unlikely to notice that 1 or 2 mm of space on the screen is in fact an invisible character that could cause input problems on submitted forms.  To think that all these unwitting souls will be send to paid support phone calls waiting in automatic queues for 40 minutes or more because they typed in their CORRECT reservation number is unbelievable.  But apparently Mom & Pop over at Ryanair think this is ok.

Moments later in the Ryanair checkin process I got an obscure warning in big red letters across the screen.  Maybe they use Dreamweaver to build their site?  Hold on, the warning fails to use basic English grammar correctly!

When you check-in online if you are issued a sequence number of 190 or above (located at the top right of the boarding pass). Please go to the airport check-in desk on arrival at the airport.

I actually remember in grade 4 when we were learning how to write and the teacher would often correct students for fragment sentences like these.  Have Mom & Pop even graduated from secondary school?

First Direct can’t afford decent web developers

Low quality web development from massive brand names is one of my pet peeves.  For those not UK based, First Direct is the online branch of HSBC, one of the biggest banking brands on the planet.  Low quality banking sites is another peeve, HSBC has taken first place in this category for a number of years, I will post more on this subject at some point.

I’ve been a First Direct customer for around 10 years and while their service is better than average, their standards for quality are like many other banking sites, massively below average consumer sites and therefore falling way short of customer expectations.

Let’s take the example of bank email.  Ever since I first became a customer of First Direct their concept of email consisted of the  following 2 features:

  • a flashing link on your accounts screen that would tell you if you had a new message
  • the ability to click on the link, then you would be able to view the message ONE TIME ONLY

So if you ever wanted to track conversations with the bank (remember they don’t allow you to use regular email for security reasons) it was impossible.  Also impossible was seeing any message for a second time, so you’d better be sure that you dealt with all aspects of the message the ONE time you decided to click on it, because it would be lost to oblivion as far as the customer was concerned any time after you clicked on the ‘view email’ link.

Fast forward to the present: a few month ago First Direct finally allocated resources to make the email work in a slightly more user-friendly way.  Now you get an inbox, an outbox, and you can click more than once on each of your messages  – LO  AND BEHOLD! Web banking in 2010 😉

But wait, check out the grab below, it seems the FD team  decided to use some kind of token in the message body, apparently to help them format message – but it seems its not always getting parsed!

first direct

I don’t know about you but when I see things like “Dear {firstname}” I am reminded of only the most incompetent, newbie spammers who learned about the Internet and Email yesterday.  How is it a multi-million pound banking goliath can make the same mistake?