Archive for the ‘flaw’ Tag

MakeMyTrip #fail: Refusal to recognize a glaring bug

This is the first (and, hopefully, the last) rant I’m going to post to this blog.

Recently, I had a surreal experience debating the definition of a usability bug with a MakeMyTrip “engineer”. No, he wasn’t interested in the generally-accepted definitions of a bug; he believed the onus of proving what I’d experienced was a bug fell squarely on me.

Before I share the details of my ordeal, let me quote how Wikipedia defines a software bug:

A software bug is an error, flaw, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways.

And here’s another definition—this time from an Intel blog:

A usability bug is any unintended behavior by the product which is noticed by the user and has impact on the user.

Did you notice the word “user” in this definition? Yes, the powerless unsuspecting user who often loses money or is put to inconvenience when corporations fail to tie up the loose ends in their code. And money I did lose because of MakeMyTrip. So far, it hasn’t come back to my bank account.

The ordeal…

Here’s how it all began. On December 6, I set out to book an air ticket from Delhi to Bangalore for my upcoming trip. I visited MakeMyTrip on my Windows 8 mobile phone (Nokia Lumia 720) and booked the ticket. When I received the confirmation email (booking ID NF7901329760605), I was shocked to see that the ticket had been booked for Mumbai instead of Bangalore, my intended destination. How did that happen?

When you visit MakeMyTrip.com using a mobile device, you’re presented with the following screen to begin with:

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You go ahead and click Book Flights to land at the flight booking form. Notice that Mumbai is the default destination in this form.

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You change the destination to your intended destination and select a Departure date:

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Now, you try to select a Return date as the next natural step. The form resets the Destination field to Mumbai automatically without any warning! Yes, just like that. See this screenshot:

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Note: All these screenshots were taken on January 1, 2014 using my Windows 8 phone.

Proceeding with the process, I ended up booking a ticket to Mumbai instead of Bangalore! What’s worth noticing in this case is that, in all likelihood, users booking their tickets on smaller screens (mobiles and tablets) would realize what happened only after the booking has completed. I’m sure I’m one of the many users reporting this issue to MakeMyTrip.

The endless wait…

I reported the issue to the MakeMyTrip voice-based customer care team as soon as I received the confirmation email (incident ID 131206-037689). On their advice, I also went ahead and booked another ticket for the same departure and return dates (booking ID NF7901129761703)—this time really to Bangalore—and all within a space of 30 minutes. MakeMyTrip customer care also suggested that I cancel the earlier unintended ticket. The cancellation penalty of ₹2000 would be refunded to my account after “due investigation”, I was assured. Just to be sure, I also emailed customer care the details of the case and exact steps to reproduce the bug. See this email.

What followed was 13 days of silence, punctuated only by system-generated emails asking for several two-day extensions to address the issue. Finally, around December 20, I received a call from one Mr Himesh (if I recall the name correctly), apparently from their “technical team”. I walked him through the steps and reproduced the bug on phone. He seemed dismissive right from the beginning and ended the call saying, “Main nahin maanta yeh bug hai” (I don’t believe this is a bug). When I asked him what other name he had coined for the glitch, he had no answer.

No closure…

Surprisingly, even after this interaction, I continued receiving system-generated emails from MakeMyTrip customer care asking for further two-day extensions. Finally, on December 26, I received an email saying “the higher authority” had decided that “there is no bug” and that MakeMyTrip would be unable to refund the cancellation fee.

Persistent, I tweeted to MakeMyTrip customer care and demanded answers to three common-sense questions:

  • Why would I book a ticket to Mumbai when I clearly wanted to go to Bangalore?
  • Beyond doubt, the MakeMyTrip website produced unexpected results in this case, causing me inconvenience and monetary loss. If this issue is not a bug, what exactly is it?
  • Why has MakeMyTrip not bothered to fix this issue even after 20 days of my reporting it? Is customers losing money not a serious matter for the company?

I have received no answers so far.

Hoping against hope…

I’m going to send a link to this blog post to the MakeMyTrip customer care in the hope that somebody who values customers will look into this issue. While a monetary loss of an amount as insignificant as ₹2000 does not bother me much, it is sad that one of the largest online travel companies in India sees no value in familiarizing its employees with the fundamentals of UX and customer advocacy. What’s also evident is that MakeMyTrip customer care is an entirely disorganized department with no effective way of tracking issues to closure.

For the while, I’ve vowed never to book my travels with MakeMyTrip again. By contrast, my experience with their competitor, ClearTrip, has always been great.

One company’s loss is another’s gain. Quite literally in this case.

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