rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
We have a Family and Friends Railcard, one of the flavours of discount cards for money off rail travel in the UK.  We've had one almost continuously since Charles was born, because buying him a ticket allowed us to use the railcard and thus get 1/3 off the adult tickets.  And I've had an online account to manage our railcard and renewing it.

The railcard online account system doesn't allow users to change their names on the account.  After an exchange of emails we established that the Railcard customer service team could change the name attached to my railcard account, but that I could never renew my railcard online again, and would have to ring up customer services every time. 

[One of the delights of the modern world for me is all the things I can sort out online without having to ring up anybody. I don't like ringing up strangers, or indeed talking on the phone to anyone much apart from my family and close friends.  I would much rather tell a computer what to do myself than talk to a stranger who is effectively doing the typing for me.]

Or I could "buy a card for someone else" and put my right name in.  Or I could create a new account with a different email address, and get the names right on that.

What I actually did was:
  1. Change the email address on the existing railcard account from my main email address to an old one I don't use any more, but can access.
  2. Set up a new account with my main email address.
  3. Put the right name on that account.
  4. Buy new railcard in plenty of time for my next booked train trip.

Seriously though, people who are building online services.  People change their names!  Build your system to accommodate that without making them jump through stupid hoops!  (Also note that the majority of people in this country who change their name are women - try not to be de facto sexist in your system design).

Date: 2015-05-13 19:10 (UTC)
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
From: [personal profile] yvi
It's amazing how many big companies are completely incapable of dealing with this.

Names: not a good choice as a unique identifier in a database, for example. Names change. People don't have unique names. Etc.

Date: 2015-05-13 20:38 (UTC)
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)
From: [personal profile] watersword
I would bet you cash money that you are correct.

Date: 2015-05-14 04:10 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
I think I've worked with that team. Not literally, but 'male and unmarried' pretty much describes 90% of the people I ever worked with.

Date: 2015-05-14 11:41 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
The diversity profile at Evil Aerospace was pretty awful. Security issues would have narrowed recruitment to Brits (we had a lot of Europeans on my big project, but all working for Airbus-Germany and seconded), but even then very few non-whites. I was there for 22 years, in that time I knew of one out gay guy (we were on the same team) and one trans woman (which was appallingly handled when she decided to transition), and that's on a site that probably averaged 4000 employees. My long term project ran 100-140 engineers depending on how busy we were, we never had more than 6 female engineers. I think we actually had more disabled people than women for a while, but it was very much people whose disability didn't clash with their work, once mine did....

And overwhelmingly the profile for the male engineers was single and under 30, because they didn't pay enough to keep people who weren't strongly attracted to the work and as soon as they had a couple of years experience on a big-name project they started sending their CVs out.

Date: 2015-05-14 08:29 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swaldman
But surely nobody is eligible for a Family Railcard *before* they are married? *gasp* *shock* *etc* ;-)

Date: 2015-05-15 11:14 (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
Here via _andrew _ducker_

And of course nobody ever corrects their gender therefore potentially needing to change a name and other details.

I won't tell you the tale of documentation all those years ago as it could take all day! Back then it was a nightmare and I believe it still has its moments even today in our more supposedly 'enlightened' times.

Date: 2015-05-13 19:39 (UTC)
jae: (ukgecko)
From: [personal profile] jae
WOW, that's ridiculous.

-J

Date: 2015-05-13 20:31 (UTC)
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
From: [personal profile] hilarita
Oh FFS. Other railway-related companies are differently shit. I recently bought some tickets from Southern trains (for work), and today got shitty spam mail from them (which I didn't intentionally sign up for) and apparently it can take 'up to 21 days' to unsubscribe. It's a fucking database. I'm pretty sure you can run the appropriate query in LESS THAN ONE SECOND. At least they're just evil spammers, not evil sexist spammers that cause more faff than a colony of faff-hamsters.

Date: 2015-05-13 22:13 (UTC)
cjwatson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjwatson
TBPH I don't even understand how you can get this wrong without active effort. I mean, it really does suggest that the name is the primary key for something, and who on earth builds databases using user-supplied text as primary keys? Except it can't just be that because then name clashes would break the world. I don't even.

Date: 2015-05-14 04:06 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
This. It's actually the point I was going to make. You have to really work at it to make a system that mal-adapted to the real world.

Date: 2015-05-14 06:36 (UTC)
bugshaw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bugshaw
Making the name unchangeable is a first stab at solving the card transferability problem. I can see why they might have come at it from that angle. But then you need someone to say "That approach won't work because x".

Date: 2015-05-14 10:54 (UTC)
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
From: [personal profile] yvi
At my previous employer, name was the unique identifier. They added a "2" after the last name when it clashed.

This was an IT company.

Date: 2015-05-14 11:52 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
There's all kinds of fun to be had if you try to base an IT system on names. One of my friends at uni had a girl on her course with the exact same name, and birthdate, I think they ended up separating them by National Insurance number. An IT-industry friend posted a link last week to the problems a company using one of the open-source web-tools for personnel stuff was having with one of their personnel - his surname was 'Null', and buried somewhere deep in the code the string was being implicitly converted to a null pointer, causing the code to tell them no name had been entered....

Date: 2015-05-14 12:50 (UTC)
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
From: [personal profile] liv
<3 This is such a classic example of how sexism leads to terrible programming!

Date: 2015-05-14 08:00 (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
It is bloody ridiculous.

Date: 2015-05-14 09:25 (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Yes!

Date: 2015-05-14 08:57 (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
Urgh, how annoying :(

[chiark has a facility to create semi-random email addresses, which you might find useful for such purposes in future]

Date: 2015-05-14 10:02 (UTC)
sparrowsion: female house sparrow (female house sparrow)
From: [personal profile] sparrowsion
I can't remember now which organisation it was whose online account management system allows you to change your surname, but if you want to change forename(s) you have to do it by post.

Date: 2015-05-14 13:56 (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
...that does not make sense at all. Surely at this point we have all learned the utility of using a unique primary key for our databases, too avoid the hassle and pain in the ass that you just had to go through.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
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