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Monday Mess-ups: Aer Lingus, Maplins, APC, Yorkshire Bank Card Services all fail

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy November 2, 2014
Can you believe that four very different retail related scenarios all failed within the space of 24 hours? Broken processes are to blame.

+big fail2
Having spent some months away from Europe and now making ready for a short sharp set of trips around the UK and Europe, I have been staggered by the range of cock-ups and mis-steps possible in the UKs retail sector. Here's today's short list:

Aer Lingusotherwise known as Air Lateness by some of my Irish friends is not allowing me to checkin via the mobile site. Why? My departing airport is not listed. Go to the website and I am still not allowed to check in. Apparently my flight is not available for Advance Check-in, despite the fact the Are Lingus site says all flights between the UK mainland and Ireland are covered. I'll be asking the checkin staff to explain the logic of that one. My somewhat twisted sense of humour thinks it might have something to do with the fact the flight is operated by Stobart Air. Last time I checked, Stobarts in the UK was a trucking company but I have since learned it is now in all sorts of related businesses - including said airline which operates under the Aer Lingus regional services banner. Go figure.

Maplin - what used to be an electronics outlet for DIY and sound enthusiasts now does a shedload of online goods including something I particularly need for my next couple of trips. The online ordering system is pretty good in that I can check stock availability and order for delivery or pay and collect in store. I choose the latter since I need the exercise. Except that I receive both an email and SMS telling me the item is not in stock and apologising profusely. Undeterred, I return to the website and notice the stock level has dropped by one unit. Mine? A call to the store asking if the item is available and sure enough, they have one with my name on it. Imagine the number of failed orders and lost sales that might arise from this kind of mess-up? And the number of unhappy customers.

APC - is a delivery outfit operating in my area. They'd helpfully left a card saying they could not deliver in my absence. That was back in September. So I go online to reschedule the delivery. Being a curious sort of person, I thought I'd also see if I could find any information using their online tracking system. I did. And it's just as well. The goods were returned to sender in late September. The disconnect? The rescheduling system is not tied to the tracking system. And of course I've received no call or email confirming the issue. Not that I need it. But again, the unwary buyer may not be so aware.

Yorkshire Bank Card Services - this is a good one. When attempting to complete an in-store transaction, the machine used top enter the PIN said 'last try' as I entered my PIN number. This struck me as odd since I can't remember the last time I used the card in-store. Even then the PIN is one of several I have imprinted on my brain. guessed it - fail and declined. I call up customer services and they kindly tell me I must have entered two incorrect attempts in the past. OK - but that doesn't explain bombing out on the third attempt. Of course there is no rational explanation though I am helpfully told I can reset the PIN at various ATMs. Let's see how that goes.

My take

This set of issues arose within the space of 24 hours. I am staggered at the range of issue that are easily surfaced in retail situations. Putting the card issuer topic aside for one moment, is it any wonder that Amazon is running away with its online expansion?

On the finance industry front, again, is it any wonder that banks and card issuers feel under threat from new services? Prior to leaving the US, I ran a transaction where the merchant uses Square plus an iPhone. Why? "It's so simple and I can send you a confirmation via email the moment the transaction is complete," said the merchant. What I didn't know was that having used the card before with Square, the system already knew who I am.

In an ADD world where the Internet holds the implied allure of instant gratification, I wonder the extent to which retailers whose systems are not up to snuff lose out because of basic system issues.

Featured image credit: © joephuriphat -

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