a bad UI case

By | 2008-01-09

In the last year I flew 24 times. Too many times, according to those ecological footprint quizs. So I decided to give another try to the train, for my usual Barcelona-Alicante trip. Unluckily in Spain the train’s company, “Renfe”, is really prehistoric: there are always delays, tickets are expensive (domestic flights are cheaper and quicker), and is the focus of a lot of political scandals.

Last Christmas they announced a new web, with a new modern system of buying tickets, and discounts up to 60% in the normal price. So far, the reservation system was terribly bad. Can they evolve into something “normal”?

I tried to buy a return ticket, Barcelona-Alicante. Firstly, the old fares are still there. Actually there is a new thing, a Captcha that gives you access to the classical fixed prices… whenever you want to do your trip, the prices are always the same for the same trains, so why do they need to hide them under a Captcha?

But the best part is to arrive… If you want to get access to the new “web fare” (60% off), you must choose “One way” ticket at the first form. This means: you must do the process 2 times, one for your going ticket, and one for the return ticket. Later you have to find a small combo box that let you choose among the fare list… the default is the most expensive option.

Finally a frame with you bank web is opened, to verify you credit card details. You press “Ok”, and suddenly says “this train is not available”… at the end of all the process. Monkey do better jobs.

After 2 hours I accomplished the mission, I got my ticket with a cheap price. But I suspect that it has been deliberately implemented in this weird system. I imagine people, elders, in the marketing department of Renfe, smiling at the time they say “hehe, we have offered a modern look, but we are not going to let anybody a cheap price ticket”.

3 thoughts on “ a bad UI case

  1. Alberto

    Sometimes, when I feel down about this country, I think about the kind of public services we have.

    The chronic unefficiency of Renfe (especially punctuality) and of Correos (if you visit England and send a post-card home on the first day, if you come back after two weeks you’ll still get home before than the post-card… It’s on your local Correos office, it’s been there since the third day!)… These are some things that make me understand that the day these kind of things work we will be a civilised country.

  2. Ruben

    The new UI also has lost functionality. I used to look at schedules for the Barcelona-Girona (middle distance kind) route, and this was in the first page. Now I have to “enter” to see them.

    Also, if you want to solve the biggest puzzle: what is exactly the prize of a 10 ticket card from Girona to Barcelona?

    Go on, if you can solve it before the AVE arrives to France I will pay you something.

  3. Ari

    Renfe drove me to an abandoned railway station to buy a ticket that was impossible to get trough internet nor phone. 400 km by car to get a ticket for the Ciudad Rodrigo -San Sebastián route. And, of course, 1 h 40 min of delay for a train that had to leave at 23.30 pm…
    I’m still waiting the answer to my complaint form…
    I will always remember the fantastic British train system 😀

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