Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Curious Case of IRCTC.CO.IN



We all know that we Indians think a lot.During this process, when we try to implement something we often tend to miss something.This 'something' is only 'something' for us but trust me this 'something' may prove to be costly for some group of people.Today I present you some facts about our Indian Railways. What comes in mind when I say 'Indian Railways(IR)' ? . Think and start imagining.Offcourse I won't give any prize for thinking.Do not limit your imaginations. I won't complain if the first thing that comes to your mind is the stinky filthy  status of  Mumbai's Kurla Railway Station. Oh! never mind I am tired of complaining about this particular railway station as officials won't bother do anything constructive about it. Well forget Kurla.If I could only write about Kurla ,then I might rather  hurt the sentiments of 10,000 people living in Kurla and things may come out as offense to certain group. Such is the hatred and disgust that place has caused in me. It gave me a 'Pneumonia' and free uninvited 'Viral Fever' during my 'old' gold glorious Engineering days. I stopped taking that route but ultimately I had to travel through that route . Why are we even talking about Kurla. Nevermind.Lets drift our focus towards the fiend. The monster which is responsible for irritating passengers who book tickets online.This monster is wide awake during morning hours of 8 to 9 am. It is IRCTC - Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation.This is the group of IR which handles Online ticket booking and railway reservation.So firstly ,let me tell you that this post might come out as a 'vent' post to many.If you are amongst those 'many' then come ahead and give me a 'hi5' ,'low5' and what not.
During the time when people used to stand in long queues to book railway tickets, we had the privelige of accessing Computer and we had access to Internet as well.A 'Pat-on-the-Back' award goes to my parents for understanding our needs.There are many things which we used Internet for but one prime job was to book railway tickets. In 2003, IRCTC was  quite flexible and efficient. It would never cease to impress people as only a certain group of  them knew about this feature of Indian Railways. Later on many people came to know about this website.Ultimate outcome was that many people booked tickets online. Now , IRCTC had to fullfil demands of a larger group of people. Last few years have been disastrous for IRCTC.Not that their user count has declined,its the degradation in their quality of service provided by them and efficiency. It is a central repository for train ticket bookings and imagine the website failing to deliver at a crucial time. I would like to highlight certain boo-boo which the site has never bothered to correct.
1. I sacrifice my sleep and get up early morning at 7 to book tickets. If not, my parents would flood my phone with numerous phone calls to wake me up just for booking tickets.FYI, I don't live with my family so phone call is the only resort. I wake up and switch on my laptop. With my partially opened eyes failing to open completely, I enter the irctc.co.in url on the address bar of the browser. I wait for 2 minutes,the page is still in the process of opening. I wait for another 5 minutes, it still is in the process of opening. I helplessly wait for another 5 minutes.This time my eyes gradually close and  I find myself lying on my bed.After 10 minutes, I get a phone call from my parents.
"Did  you book the tickets?"
"Are you awake?,"
"Hello..Talk dear,"  My parents would try their best to wake me up.
"Omg!!" Thats when I realize that I had to book my tickets.Without any ado I wake up just to see the “Page cannot be displayed"  message. And then the cycle repeats.
2.At times when I am successful in passing the first login process , I try my luck in booking tickets. I  enter the destination and the source station and all the desired fields and click on Find train. It takes 5 minutes to find the trains. It takes another 5 minutes to check the seat availability and another 5 minutes to book tickets. The book ticket screen hangs  and thats the time we should realize that IRCTC is going to fool us yet again. We get a message 'Session Expired.Login again' . I suggest you not to panic during such times. It just happens. I am a regular user of IRCTC , so I pass a stupid smile and get back to sleep and try tatkal.



3. If you are lucky enough to book the tickets,try the payment portal which is pathetic. I select the bank and fill in my account details and click on the 'pay now' button. The very next second I get a text message on my phone that 'XXX amount has been deducted from your XXXXX account on your XXXXXX bank' . Thats infuriating especially when you get another  IRCTC message 'Server busy. Try after sometime' . It angers me for obvious reasons but nothing we could do.It finally makes us feel that we are stupid for wasting our precious time in front of our PC/Laptop.
If you book a train ticket surpassing all these barriers then consider yourself lucky. One day I got vexed to such an extent that  I called up the IRCTC customer care.A woman representative attended my call. My sudden outburst actually scared her. My voice was audibly irritated and I asked her for the IRCTC escalation matrix to which she was scared. She apologised for the inconvenience caused and assured me that the deducted amount would be refunded in 5 days. I got angry again and the outcome was that she cut the phone.It irks me at times and trust me thats not a great start to  our day.I would sue the developers of this website and urge them to do some load and unit testing before they deliver their product. I understand that many people access IRCTC for booking tickets but there should be some alternative.Everyday the website crashes between 8-9 leaving the lucky ones with a ticket and the unlucky ones refreshing their web page.Crazy!!. During  Union Budget ,the railway minister talks about slashing ticket prices,providing more facilities to passengers. All that I would like to say is 'Pehle apni Website to theek karwao yar' . Janhit mei Zaari!!.. Jai IRCTC. :P :P 

Images taken  from Google Images & ROFLINDIA.COM

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27 comments:

  1. Well articulated. As you have mentioned load testing is absolutely necessary given that countless number of people access the site, I believe much much more than the average traffic of an online shopping destination or even say Facebook!!!

    Though I need to book tickets online hardly once or twice in a year..so haven't faced much problem but yes they were there. Once money was deducted from my account but the ticket did not get booked and it all happened because of the session expired thing...what was comforting that the money was refunded in three days or so automatically without chasing (except bothering an associate of the bank a li'l bit, to know of the process). I think there is the vision..what lacks is effectiveness.

    For the Kurla part and others, good quantity of humour and sarcasm made it quite a good read :)

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    1. We as techies could be aware of the technical failure and the reason why this happens...this is sad and should have been treated with high severity and priority as we say in QA

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  2. Well, the excruciating experience is not limited to you alone, I am sure there would be millions. Even I have had similar insults happen to my patience. Something is seriously wrong somewhere. They may be having inadequate IT and good software to back it. It is also being widely believed that the deadening of the IRCTC servers is a deliberate act perpetrated by nefarious elements.

    Please don't expect the Mamtas and Laloos of this world to solve this problem.

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    1. yes i dont expect anything from the Mamta's and the Laloo's of this world to solve this issue...infact I am sure this issue can never be resolved..It is persistent through out and would be

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  3. A very realistic description of the agonizing tatkal system.

    You reverberate the feelings behind my post http://inspiredcitizens.blogspot.in/2011/12/fool-me-why-not-i-am-consumer-in-india.html

    sorry to be sharing a link here.. but I really think this echoes a similar thought

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  4. The site is just too slow, so i don't even bother

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  5. Same is the case with many government websites! Please bring the issue to the notice of the site admn! Thanks for raising a common concern!

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    1. I did ...i raised a ticket too but no response as usual

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  6. hahaha...seems you're rlly frustrated by irctc..lol..yes its true..it sucks most of the times..though I jus liked yr way of presenting this..so natural..good shot..:)

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  7. ur post shows how much irritated u are. part of Indian life, learn to live with it...lol
    And i can also imagine how hard it would be for ur poor parents to wake u up :P
    neways good post!


    sarah

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    1. yes my poor parents do give me a call every morning these days to wake me up and that made you give me a new nick huh ...

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  8. i have always lived with my parents so can't relate to it...bt can sense ur frustration...as usual very well written

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    1. thanks...you will nt relate to it and u can never :D

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  9. The weaknesses of technology or perhaps the the minds behind the technology!

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  10. very true.. this always happens to me..

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  11. thanks a lot for your valuable comments folks

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  14. The chance of getting confirmed tatkal tickets depends on how quick you fill up the information and make a payment.
    IrctcEasyBook.com presents a simple way to fill tatkal forms. Most of the agents use such type of software to book and that's why the tatkal seats magically fills up in minutes.
    Such software is first time available to free to use to all through IrctcEasyBook.com

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  15. Man smashes laptop while trying to use IRCTC
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xWSUxxP4Nc

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