Sunday, June 21, 2009

Metro Journal: Worst Website Ever

I've been trying to use the TAP website for months now, and I'm about ready to track down the designers and bitchslap them. TAP stands for "Transit Access Pass," the debit card-based system that various municipal public transportation systems in Los Angeles County, in addition the county MTA, are adopting. A couple months ago, the county Metro replaced paper day passes with day passes loaded onto TAP cards and gave out the cards (a $2 value) free with a day pass purchase for several weeks, where I got mine. Since then, I have been trying to register it online at and have been driven crazy.

In short, the TAP website is the most user-unfriendly, customer "service" website I have come across in memory. I never thought I'd say this, but a site has remarkably surpassed HP's piece-of-crap website, which has not only not been redesigned in at least 5 years but just gets worse as it gets bigger.

Oh, how does it suck? Well, let's start:
  • I've been trying to register my TAP card for months so that I can load a balance on it. Apparently the website's card database is separate from the actual TAP system, and my card's number is not in the website database. I called twice, was reassured both times that it would show up in a couple days, and it never did. I sent a service request through the web page's form and never got a reply. Finally, I sent an email directly to their customer service and eventually got a reply that it would be up in 24 hours. The reply came on Thursday. I don't believe it has shown up, though, but it's hard to tell because...
  • I can't remember my username. The thing is, you can reset your password as long as you know your name and the email you registered with. It asks a security question, and that's definitely the pet's name I entered. But there is simply no obvious or even obscure way to look up the username associated with an email. How stupid is that? So then...
  • I decide to see what happens if I re-register with the same email. It seems to take it and after I've submitted the vital statistics (note that it doesn't tell me there's already an account with that email address), the next page asks for a TAP card number. I feed mine in and get some inscrutable error. I then try to log in with my supposedly-newly created account, and it doesn't appear to have been created.
  • I lather, rinse, and repeat, trying a new email address. Same thing happens. I'm strongly suspect that means the card number was invalid and that it won't create the account with a valid card number. Where's the logic in that, particularly if you want to create an account but haven't bought a card yet?
  • They're obviously using Oracle as the backend database, but they don't even bother to translate the extremely-technical Oracle errors into plain English.
Do you feel my pain? Do you?

As I am pretty good at figuring out dumbass websites, as impossible as this one is, I can't imagine anyone who is not very web-savvy having any idea how to use it. What the hell is the point in building something so complex and non-intuitive and user-unfriendly that no one can use it?

1 comment:

spajadigit said...

I feel it, I feel it!