Jun 15, 2011

Incompetently Rude & Callously Terrible Corporation

Yes, that is IRCTC for u. Over the past few months I have been trying to book a lot of train tickets online. It mostly involves travel between Mumbai n Gujarat. Most often than not, it is impossible to tickets for the journey from Mumbai. Sometimes, the other route too. The waitlisted numbers go into hundreds. So I gotta rely on ‘tatkal’ to book tickets. That is one experience worth writing a book on. Ya, this post is full of complaints but I gotta do it, when we talk about the ‘largest service sector in the World operating in the World’s IT-hub’.
First, one has to login a few minutes before 8 am and just keep wandering around the website until 8. Why? For logging into the site even at 7.59, one must be damn lucky bcos it takes forever. If u r trying for a busy train or during vacation time, everything w'd be pretty much over by the time u login. Why keep wandering there after logging in well before 8? Bcos if u r idle for like 2 mins, the rude system w'd throw u out with a lovely message 'Session expire'. Duh!
Just like any pc/video game, there are several levels u can get stuck into. The most notorious of all is when u click on a particular class of travel. To kill boredom, u r recommended counting how many dozens of times the waiting cycle rotates before it shows u the availability. If u think u can browse any other website in the meanwhile, beware of the bandwidth share it w'd take, thus further increasing ur chance of getting another cooling message 'Service Unavailable'. Ya rite.. Service !!
U r also advised to open a couple more of different browsers and access the IRCTC site at the same time. I know I talked any bandwidth stealing n all just a while ago but more browser windows is a must back-up plan when one or more of the sessions fail. The different levels of online booking r like the diff dream levels talked in 'Inception'. Deeper u go, more w'd be the danger u have to beware of. If not u will be forever trapped in the limbo n it will be impossible to come out unscathed.
So often it happens that u w'd be so near yet so far. Also keep multiple payment options like netbanking, credit card n debit card available bcos there is no guarantee that an option available on a given day will be available any other day. The most frustrating is when u go from ‘10 available seats’ to ‘WL 10’ by the time u enter the passenger details.
Also, the site doesn’t allow any right clicking to copy any long number/name. Some cynic must have designed/authorized a very autocratic website saying ‘why s’d someone right-click? Let them type down everything!”.
Also, some train timings r so odd that it's not uncommon to se some unassuming passengers get stranded. I witnessed once when I was travelling from Mumbai to Gujarat on Vadodara exp. It leaves Mumbai CST at 11.40 pm and reaches borivali, a suburb of Mumbai in the north at 12.04 am, picks up passengers from north Mumbai n leaves at 12.07 am. So when I got into Vadodara exp from borivali, someone was already getting ready to sleep in my berth, which is not an unusual sight. When I told him that its my berth, he said it is his. Initially I thot I had goofed up the booking somehow. So much for my self-confidence! When I checked the date n time, it was indeed a correct ticket. I asked him to show his and his ticket showed the previous day as sate of boarding. Indeed the previous day had ended just 10 mins ago and that is the day he wanted to leave Mumbai. But he or his agent chose a wrong time at the cusp of the day. If the railways had advanced the departure by just 8 mins, it w'd have left Borivali too on the same day and such a confusion like above c'd have been averted.
An exhausting experience each time u plan ur travel via IRCTC. Any talk of India and shining is truly valid only when we get to book tickets in Indian railways within a reasonable time w'out seeing the WLxx, atleast for 3rd a/c and above.


Diva said...

I totally agree to the points you mentioned… In addition to that,

If a passenger really want to book a ticket in tatkal,

-He/She should surely be in a corporate and not the home user (only corporate internet’s bandwidth at least allow you to go to login page)
-He/She should give lot of money to the agent and he will do a bulk booking just by booking maximum tatkal tickets in a single transaction

[Beware of bulk booking:

I would like to quote an incident here,
While I was travelling from Trichy to Chennai, a passenger boarded the train in Trichy junction, as usual when TTI came for checking the ticket, he asked where is the another person supposed to travel with you?
Passenger wandered and answered I’m the only person (He doesn’t know that it was a bulk booking done by the agent)
After 2 boarding points, 2 passengers boarded in Lalgudi, they found someone else was sleeping in their berths (TTI thought the berth was empty and waited till the next boarding point and gave that berths to the RAC passengers, but the real scenario is, these passengers are among the passengers in bulk booking but boarded at Lalgudi but the person boarded in Trichy junction did not know this, it made lots of confusions)]

The best options to increase the liability of the irctc site can be,
-General forecast of users who visit the sites daily/weekends: according to that they may increase the no. of resources instead of running with very less resource
-Railways should take action against bulk booking/the irctc website shouldn’t allow users to book more than 2 or 3 tickets in one transaction.

Above all if we are lucky enough to get the payment page, we used to get service unavailable or some crap message/hour glass, you know what? They are Mr. Perfect only here, they will detect our money even the transaction is incomplete and we have to call the customer care of the bank which leads to another big story for your new post.

Raju said...

Diva, hmm.. valid points indeed.
Interesting incident u had mentioned.. Also, the rule for any bulk booking is that just one person among the 6 from the ticket needs to have an ID. so what some agents do for very hot routes like Chennai-Bangalore is, they book one among themselves as a passenger, and 5 other random guys' names as co-pasengers. With thousands of IT professionals visiting home in the above route, it becomes easy for them to sell the ticket at a very high rate (usually double). Since the bus tickets cost that much, and even more, the weekend commuters dont mind paying a large sum for their journey.
When the demand is high, hundreds of ppl make money in illegal/unethical ways.

Anonymous said...

That's terrible. My folks use irctc but I hv nt heard much complaints.. Probably they were a bunch of few lucky ppl.. They book it quite in advance donno whether tat wud make a difference.. I have to tell I was so disspponted by shatabdi express from blore to chennai.. It was a second class compartment converted to shatabdi. Even the eating tray was not proper.. My bro was struggling to have food in his lap.. We took fotos n videos n thought we wud complaint..whn we spoke to ttr he gives a casual smile n says ' we r waiting for the new coaches' then why can't they charge less .. And toilets were worst . I was so much reminded of the railway scenes in anniyan movie.. And it was nt at all smooth ride.. Gave a feel of a local train.. Even worser than that.. Thank god it was only 4 hrs tat we had to manage.. While going frm chEnnai to blore it was very good..


Raju said...

Anitha, ya I agree with you that it mostly works great if u book well before. The problem is mainly for the travel to be done within, say, less than 3 weeks' time.
I have travelled quite a few times by the Shatabdi that connects Ahmedabad and Mumbai. It was always comfortable, and I sort of look forward to that Shatabdi travel. I guess B'lore-Chennai is a new route, so came the problems u faced.

Nag said...

I too experienced the IRCTC problems in my last india trip, they have lot to improve on the tatkal reservation stystem.
I liked the inception comparision.

muebles en avila said...

Quite helpful data, lots of thanks for your article.

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