Banging my head against a web site

I’ve just been banging my head against a railway booking website (, and my plea to web developers generally is “Explain every error, with an exact explanation of what the site found unacceptable and what it will accept. Allow the users to continue past errors if at all possible.” The particular example I hit was that the site (UK-based) wouldn’t take my VISA card (a UK bank but an Irish address on the account), but there was nothing to say what else I could do. Eventually I gave up, and rather than forgoing their online booking discount and booking the same journey by phone, I booked a flight direct from Dublin instead — although the whole journey will cost me more this way, I wasn’t going to give them my trade after they’d mucked me around!

Come to think of it, web-based VISA payment isn’t very impressive on the whole; it has rough edges that really should have been sorted out by now. A good example is that VISA cards have the digits of the card number in groups of four, with spaces between the groups, but most sites insist on you entering them without the spaces. Even in a low-level language like C, that’s going to be about 3 more lines of program to deal with them… come on, what kind of programmers are some of these places hiring?

Also, a little point to the non-Irish world: not everywhere has postcodes.


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