back to article I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

I can't get it up. Give me a few moments and I'll try again. Yes, I have tried rubbing it but thanks for the suggestion. What's that? I'm grasping it too firmly? Or I'm flashing in the wrong direction? Tell you what, I'll keep fiddling with it while you satisfy one of your other customers. How difficult can it be to buy a …

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  1. Anonymal coward

    Evolution isn't working properly...

    I thought this sort of nonsense had died out after Y2K, but no. Bank sent a replacement departure lounge card after they decided that the old scheme was too generous, and so I had to find the appropriate app. Started that and was asked whether I would like to add a card to the app; 'Ho ho!', thought I to myself, the letter said they'd already activated the card so all should be good. Enter 16 digit magic number and activation code; no, letter only has 16 digit card number, no activation code. OK, use email. No, app doesn't know email address; enter 16 digit number and password. No, password not known, choose from email addresses to send password reset. No, no email addresses, so do not pass Go, do not collect £200, do not uninstall the app and file card with plastic waste...

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Evolution isn't working properly...

      Hmm. That sounds suspiciously like a certain retailer, whose name does not at all sound close to Tea with Max Factor.

      “All you have to do is visit zzz.com/something free and enter your 16 digit code”

      Result: 404 Page Not Found

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Evolution isn't working properly...

      Bought a copy of a classic LP (Paul Simon's `Graceland') that included a card with a URL and code to provide access to a high-quality digital download I could put on my phone. The URL is supposed to be good until the end of 2018. Point your browser to the URL and, you guessed it, you get a 404 error so the URL didn't even survive past Spring 2018. Email to Sony went, unsurprisingly, unanswered. No matter... the local library had a copy of it on CD so I got my digital copy the old fashioned way: ripping it. (You try to do the right thing...)

  2. cambsukguy

    Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

    There are none of these Apps available on WinPhone.

    I am sooo broken up about not having a loyalty App and paying by contact-less is so easy I am amazed anyone bothers with other mechanisms.

    Not that I would be in a coffee shop, especially one with a queue.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

      That's OK, WinPhone's no longer available either :-)

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

      I used the Greggs rewards website on Edge up until about 6 months ago and it was utterly reliable. It makes me wonder what it says about Greggs IT that it works on Edge though....

      Greggs is the only one I am signed up to, given their lack of pretension. However that has rather changed lately as I have had free offers (unredeemed) lately for a caramel latte, a choice of premium "teas" (don't like tea at the best of times, never mind flavours that sound like shampoos) and last week a pumpkin spice latte.

      Cue angry Denis Leary rant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f_dxLiuXuw

    3. keith_w

      Re: Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

      Not available on BB10 either - Hurrah!

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

        another vite for greggs app here too. it has always scanned for me. i usually get a fair few freebies through the app too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another reason to keep on truckin' a WinPhone

          Nope. Hate the Greggs app because they constantly change the QR code you're supposed to scan. Rather than offer a simple barcode version of your loyalty card number, they're using some sort of TOTP thing that changes your barcode every couple of minutes.

          Which means...I can't just put the barcode in my Google wallet and uninstall their pointless app..like I've done with Tesco, Costa, Subway, Morrisons and just about every other retailer with a loyalty scheme.

  3. Nick Kew Silver badge

    No sympathy

    You're clearly spending far too much time in Shoreditch. Try the Real World.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sympathy

      While not app-enabled to a Shoreditch standard I encountered a "Costa Express" machine a couple of years ago. "Express" was a complete misnomer as it generated a huge queue because rather than having the simple vending machine "push button for coffee" interface it had a fancy GUI where you selected what type of coffee, flavours, toppings etc etc (one screen for each set of options) were then directed to take the correct cup to put under the nozzle (this is where most of the delays came from as there were several different cup types to select requiring debates on which to use) until finally it started to brew and dispense the drink - at this point to keep you "amused" it played what was probably intended to be "coffee making sounds" of clinking cups etc but to me sounded as if Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques was delivering the coffee. At this point people would grab their coffee and depart. Costa doubtless assume this system is brilliant because the next person would find they were faced with a "rate you experience" page that the previous person was meant to have completed and invariably everyone was pressing "very satisfied" no doubt to avoid the possibility of having a series of supplementary pages to ascertain why you weren't satisfied if they'd made any other answer.

      1. Giovani Tapini

        Re: No sympathy

        Have you seen inside one of these machines? I have and I'll never use one again.

        There are a row of plastic bags full of dark unhealthy looking urine colour liquid.

        They hang inside like operating theatre catheter bags. Just waiting to have their content warmed to body temperature and squirted into the unwary customer's cup.

        All the graphics are to distract you from the reality of the cyclopian horrors inside...

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: No sympathy

          And that's on a regularly maintained and cleaned machine.....

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: No sympathy

            having worked in a few hospitals as a biomedical scientist (worjing with pickled bits of people) i can say that people look far more gooey than thoae express bags.

            the cat 4 labs in manchester were the worst when the pathologists ate their lunch at their desks. all with live TB unfixed samples in the isolation cupboards next to them....

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
              Coat

              If it's a Category 4 lab, you're probably safer eating on the floor than you are beathing in the street.

              Although personally, I would prefer not eating next to the isolation cupboards.

              That's how one of the Resident Evil films started, no ?

  4. Michael B.

    Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

    It routinely fails between the hours of 7am and 9am, and 4pm and 6pm. Why? Well if you haven't guessed it's rush hour and they seem to have 1 386SX doing the processing for the entire country. It's even more galling that when it doesn't work you have to pay the higher cash price.

    Another piece of "genius" development is that if you do have to buy a ticket you have 5 minutes to use it by scanning it on the bus. Woe betide that the bus is full and you have to wait for the next one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

      Even better, try this on the new "MetroBus" in Bristol and there's no option to pay a "higher cash price" - its all app based tickets with possibly the ability to use a card to buy a ticket from a machine at the stop. But I think "real money" is no longer accepted.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

      Had the reverse with EasyBus in North Wales the other week. No app, no contactless or card payments, cash only and he didn't have change for a £20 note.

      I just dredged up enough change for the return ticket I wanted.

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

        "I just dredged up enough change for the return ticket I wanted."

        I had to get off a bus I'd hailed recently because there was no way for it to give me change. :/ It would be fair to say I got several dirty looks as the bus drove away

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

          I am currently reading a great book, titled "Designing data intensive applications". There are many things in it that I "kind of knew", but never was aware of the details of. The point is, systems like the ones "discussed" here are typically designed by guys (invariably - a woman would have learned first) who "kind of know" how to do it but in actuality, not quite. They learn on the job, like most of us did. So, the server side services are unresponsive, lose data on occasion, do not offer a clear upgrade path for the client side app etc. Things "kind of work", if you squint enough - just not when you need them to. The answer is to learn, but when do you learn if the project budget has been eaten up already by five project managers and ten consultants, and you are half year behind the schedule?

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: designed by guys [...] who "kind of know" how to do it but in actuality, not quite

            And who've never ridden a bus or bought coffee in their lives.

            It's clear to me that the execrable user interface foisted on me after the latest ATM "upgrade" was designed by a numpty who had never used an ATM for more than pulling out cash.

            Yesterday I wanted to pay a credit card bill and transfer some money between accounts. Used to be one log-in, four key press operations. Now its TWO card log-ins, each with four keypress operations.

            Idiotic.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: designed by guys [...] who "kind of know" how to do it but in actuality, not quite

              execrable user interface foisted on me after the latest ATM "upgrade"

              For simple cash transactiona I have found that the ATMs around here which have an option to choose Cymraeg for the UI often have a different (sometimes radically so) interface for Welsh than Engliah. One in particular offers a much simpler, cleaner, quicker interface in Cymraeg than in English.

              Not tried any other languages, can't say that I've noticed machines around here which have any. Does anyone have any experience?

              M.

          2. dnicholas Bronze badge

            Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

            The world was built by people who "kind of knew" how to do it.

            I blagged my first job then learnt how to do it quick snap, the same over as I've progressed. Now I employ people who kind of know what they are doing. When I interview I'm not looking for the finished product, but someone who will not give up because they hit the limit of the skill or education.

            Apps to pay for something... grrr. Oyster works fine. Phone payments cause people to break step moving through barriers, so they are inherently inferior. Don't get me started on silly-haired, painted on jeans wearing, non-socked morons trying to pay for silly coffee abominations with their phablets.

    3. Patrician

      Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

      Or try using Arriva Ticket App that, between 07:00 and 09:00 and 16:00 and 18:00 routinely shows the error "unable to connect to server, please check you signal or wireless connection"; even with a full four bars of 4G and everything else on the phone is managing to find their respective servers. with no problem whatsoever.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

        One of our local bus companies offers an inexplicably massive app for Android that seems less designed to sell tickets and more focussed on providing some kind of social media experience, which seems to be its excuse for requesting every possible permission available.

        Meanwhile, the bus company doesn't offer any form of integrated ticketing (you can't get a through ticket even if there's a connecting bus run by the same operator) - despite the buses all having NFC and QR code readers. You can even get a card that looks a lot like a pre-pay Oyster card, but you can only use it to pay for point-to-point fares at their full cost, so if you have a debit card, it's entirely pointless.

        Don't underestimate the power of business to harness technology to make your life more complicated for no obvious benefit to anyone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

          The tragedy of all these different transport crapps is that not only are they inadequate in more ways than you'd assume were mathematically possible, but the problem of contactless payments was solved many years ago by TfL when the Oyster system became useable with contactless cards and NFC devices. And not just the hardware side, the overall logic of "never pay more for the day than the cheapest option you could have chosen". And it works on buses, tube, trams, DLR, river bus and Thames Clipper. I'm always happy to throw stones at the public sector, but some group of people somewhere in and around TfL deserve to be on the New Year's Honours list for how Oyster has worked out.

          All that was then required was for all the numpties running other bus, train, and rapid transit systems up and down the land (both public and private sector) to adopt Oyster. But no, the clowns all had to design their own unique, expensive, shit systems, every one different, random, illogical, unreliable, and often very poor even when used with contactless cards. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

          1. Mark 110 Silver badge

            Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

            Great post Led!!

            Always baffles me when someone rolls their own great thing its not just made available to everyone else as a spin off. Particularly in the public sector.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

              "Always baffles me when someone rolls their own great thing its not just made available to everyone else as a spin off. Particularly in the public sector."

              Other than TfL, is there any other public sector run transport system?

              1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

                then you get the likes of hong kong who have the entire islands running on integrated octopus cards for transport on bus/tube/ferries etc the same cards that can be used in shops, restaurants etc. This was back in 2004. it worked.

              2. 080

                Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

                "Other than TfL, is there any other public sector run transport system?"

                Cardiff Bus

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                  Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

                  Cardiff Bus

                  And everything was going so well until some idiot planner decided to build offices and a new TV studio right on top of the extremely-well-designed-considering-it-was-the-1960s bus station right outside Cardiff Central. You used to be able to hop off a train straight (more-or-less) onto a bus that would take you anywhere within Cardiff and beyond. Now you have to hunt around a dozen sidestreets looking for the current location of the stop and queue on a crowded pavement.

                  Being publicly-run didn't help them there unfortunately.

                  That said, and I'll wait to see how it pans out, the newly-formed Transport for Wales sounds like it has someone working for it who has a sensible head on his shoulders.

                  M.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

            I think the "never pay more for the day than the cheapest option" probably explains the lack of interest in Oyster from First Bus et al.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

              I think the "never pay more for the day than the cheapest option" probably explains the lack of interest in Oyster from First Bus et al.

              There's a reason why they're known as 'Worst Bus' round here.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

            Isn't the reason they don't choose Oyster that they have to pay a health chunk of each transaction to the people that developed Oyster, and possibly TFL as well? Hence creating their own and forcing us to use the crap that came out.

        2. ecofeco Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

          "Don't underestimate the power of business to harness technology to make your life more complicated for no obvious benefit to anyone."

          COTD right there.

    4. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

      The fact that you have to pay a higher price and that it continually fails at their (presumably) busiest time leads me to believe that behaviour is by design.

      1. 080

        Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

        "The fact that you have to pay a higher price and that it continually fails at their (presumably) busiest time leads me to believe that behaviour is by design."

        Do you really believe that they have the wit to design something like this?

    5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Try travelling with First Bus and their (cr)app

      It got even better a few weeks ago. No more frustration at peak hours. The damn thing shat itself regardless of the time of day. Then the app crashed. And would continue to crash until I uninstalled it (yes I forced it stop first and all the rest). Then it went back to accusing me of no internet connection despite 4g signal, then WIFI (both brought Google up just fine).

      But somehow a servers inability to work is a fault with my connection to the internet....

      Yet I do it because buying tickets for my daily journeys (3 times a week not enough to justify a week rider) would cost £1.40 A day more otherwise. Or £4.20 a week...or about a pint of decent beer. I'll leave it as an exercise to reader on what I'd rather spend the money on.

  5. Giovani Tapini

    Top notch

    [vomit-inducing photos of drinks that look like someone sneezed on the ice cream at a children's birthday party before taking a shit on the custard]

    laughed so loud my colleagues turned round wondering what I was working on (oops).

    I guess the apps could be deliberately be that bad, but that assumes a level of quality control and consistency beyond the capability of most mobile development shops. Much like government conspiracies its more likely to be circumstances and chance than deliberate.

    I also wonder why I want to wander around with a gazillion poorly written data reaming apps when all I need is a debit card or cash. My experience has frequently been beset with assistants running after people leaving the shop crying "your phone payment didn't go through, I need you to try it again!"

    Even real time (ish) NFC payments take so long to fail people have already left. Paying by cash is actually often both faster and more reliable.

    Its no wonder people suffer major psychological disorders when their battery runs down. That's your ticket home lost, your coffee while waiting for it to charge lost, your games, social media, news indeed your total sandal wearing, beard sporting, tree hugging, vegan life is over unless you can find someone with a compatible charger and a free socket.

    A recent example of said millennial with head enveloped with fancy baseball hat walks into pub, asking if he can charge his phone. Landlord considers and consents. The aforesaid goes outside to chat to his mate and does not even buy a pack of crisps for the trouble.

    Maybe someone will write an app that will call for a motorbike mounted charging station when battery goes less than 15% for a small fee.

    I'm old school and will always carry enough cash to get home in the event of the e-pocalypse of app failures or bank upgrades...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Top notch

      I'm kinda curious as to what permissions all of these coffee and bus apps want, before GDPR kicked in I was in Madrid and as I visit there fairly often I thought I would get the tappy tap tap app, on hitting install the permissions it wanted were everything on my phone including contacts, my bank details and card, the keys to my car and my wife when I was working away at weekends.

      I didn't bother, particularly because I can wave my debit card at a ticket machine and get a one day ticket for a few Euros. Glad I live in the country and only go to the city when I feel like it for a bit of culture or a good curry.

      1. Giovani Tapini

        Re: Top notch

        Interesting it wanted the keys to your wife I must say. These young Batista clearly have no limits at all!

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Top notch

          wetherspoons have usb chargers now. and an app to order to table. ive seen rows of teenagers with 1 cup of refillable coffee sat at table before and after i walked past with supermarket shopping.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In view of the site preferences

    Mr Dabbsy must have been using a [insert expletive of choice here] iPhone.

    At the very least we need to know what overpriced coloured hot water emporium he was using...

    just so that the rest of us can ignore it... you understand... /s

    Cash only for me in these places. I know that this is outmoded but at least cash can't be hacked by the numpty standing next to me in the queue?

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: In view of the site preferences

      Nothing wrong with the iPhone at S$$$$$, at least not here in Murica. Put the S$$$$$$$$$$$$ card of your choice in the Apple Wallet, allow the wallet to appear on the lock screen, and you're all set. Well, I guess that's possibly beyond the average drone, but we're all superdrones here, aren't we chaps?

      OK, it helps if I give my phone a nudge to wake it up at least 20 seconds before attempting to pay. Otherwise, no problemo.

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: In view of the site preferences

        @Daedalus

        down voted for the use of "no problemo"

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: own voted for the use of "no problemo"

          Aye.

          Everyone knows it's "Nae problemo".

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: own voted for the use of "no problemo"

            "Everyone knows it's "Nae problemo".

            There should be soundbites in addition to icons. I'd vote for Nae problemo from Robb Anybody Feagle.

        2. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: In view of the site preferences

          @IsJustabloke

          Right back at ya.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: In view of the site preferences

        I own a smartphone. I use it for email, messaging and (surprisingly) phoning. Also, limited web browsing (because anything other than limited browsing is far too painful)

        I have a few apps on it. An HP41 calculator, Photographer's Ephemeris, Star Map, Commuter Rail status (NOT supplied by the rail company, it's a user-written app that is far better) and a few others.

        I do NOT use my phone to pay for things. Several reasons, but the big one is that should I forget to charge the phone, or be without service for whatever reason, I would be unable to do anything that costs money. I prefer not to put all my eggs in that electronic basket, thank you..

        I carry a credit card, some small amount of cash and a commuter rail monthly pass, which is also a bus and subway pass (should be, for $318/mo). Works for me. Don't need or want loyalty points, 'cause the coffee at work is free, and I figure that heavily discounts what I pay for when I'm not at work

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: In view of the site preferences

          I use it for email, messaging and (surprisingly) phoning.

          They can make phone calls, too?

          Huh. Who knew?

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