Rail Rant

I recently purchased some rail tickets online and arranged to collect them at a station I was to be passing through. Of course I forgot as I passed through said station so the other day I tried to go and collect them.

It really shouldn’t have been hard, I’ve done it several times before, you just go to the station from which you’ve arranged pickup and insert your credit|debit card into the collection machine.

Only this time it wanted a reference number. I vaguely remember being given one of those and told I would need it to collect the tickets. Bother.

Today I headed back, inserted my card, tapped in the reference of the first ticket. Boom. Tickets printed.

Round two, insert card again. Boom. More tickets! Wait, what?!? No reference number this time? …

That’s right – you only need to enter the reference number when you have more than one set of tickets to collect. Rubbish!

Is this really the best they could do? I’m certain I’m not the first to encounter this flaw in the system design, and surely I won’t be the last.

I can understand the potential use case where users only want to collect a certain set of tickets, leaving others for collection at a later date, but when your input method is a touchscreen UI asking the user to enter a reference number seems like perhaps the worst way of choosing which tickets to print.

What a load of pants!