Making buying online difficult – European train nightmares

Sometimes – just occasionally – you discover an everyday transaction that’s a nightmare to carry out online. European train travel is one of them. 

Where buying online just doesn’t work

We’re going to Berlin later this year for a friend’s 50th birthday party. I travel by train a lot and booking on-screen is usually quick and easy. But buying online tickets for Brighton to Berlin threw me into a spin.

Yes, all the information I need is there. But the way it’s presented is daunting, a mish-mash of tables full of small print and caveats, asterisks and codes. It’s a whole different ball game from planning a train journey within Britain, which is simplicity itself.

Because the last thing we need is to get it wrong and end up in Belgium or something, I gave up after an hour’s research and made a note to drop into our local rail travel centre in person instead. The only way to feel 100% confident I’ve got it right, and found the best deal, is to talk it through with a human being.

Great graphic design is about functionality as well as beauty. The sites I looked at expressed neither. Graphical User Interface design is important too, essential for a good customer experience as well as maximising response and driving sales. The current representation doesn’t do a very good job when applied to journeys beyond our shores. So it’d be great to see the people responsible for European train travel sites coming up with a clearer way of presenting and delivering information.

If that’s you, consider it a challenge. If I can book our next European train trip via your site with suitable amounts of confidence, elan, je ne sais quoi and panache, I’ll write free blog posts for you… forever!