I thought I’d found the holy grail – iPhone takeout ordering (UK)… it was not to be 7

In a previous post I mentioned that I thought a takeout ordering app would be a great idea. Online takeaway aggregator Eatitnow.co.uk seemed to have heeded the call with their iPhone app. This evening, feeling both lazy and hungry, I thought it was time for a test drive. Have I found the holy grail?

iPhone optimism
Eatitnow iPhone app

Logging on, selecting a restaurant and pulling together an order worked well. Then I clicked “Finalise Order” and… nothing.

Could it just be a usability issue?
The usability folk will tell you that whenever you perform an action on system (e.g. click a button), the interface should tell confirm whether your action has succeeded or not. It stops the user from wondering if the system has done what they needed. I tried again a few times and… nothing. I shut down the app, re-opened it (had to login again though – so much for auto-login), recreated the order and… nothing. I tried on the app and the (mobile) website to find a customer services number and… nothing.

Optimistic or just naïve?
Hunger began to overtake laziness so I headed upstairs to the computer, logged onto the website, found the call centre number and rang them to check if the order had been placed. They were closed at 20h45. For an outfit whose core business is the restaurant trade that’s a pretty poor showing. The answerphone said to send an email and I thought that maybe, just maybe, Amazon style response times would mean I’d get a response. After 20 minutes… nothing.

Resigned to the Web
As I was off the couch anyway, I decided to order via the website. Everything seemed to run smoothly, I placed the order and received an onscreen confirmation.

Here one moment, gone the next
20m later no email confirmation so I logged onto the site again, checked recent orders and my order was there. I checked recent orders on the iPhone app and it wasn’t – so much for services oriented architecture. I rechecked on the website and the order had disappeared. I thought I was going mad so I tried again, planning to take some screenshots. Again the order went through and I clicked refresh expectantly waiting for the order to disappear. Two hours later … nothing. The order still appears but no sign of dinner. This time I want the system to let me down and it can’t even do that!

Thinking on an empty stomach
Aside from me feeling better for having vented my frustrations, why is this important for your mobile app / online business?

  • If you’re going to make a song and dance about your iPhone app – make sure it works.
  • If you’re going to offer a mobile service, be sure your customers have a way of getting hold of you that doesn’t require them going to their computers. Particularly important if your service doesn’t work.
  • If you’re going to offer a seamless web / mobile / web experience – make sure your architecture supports it.
  • If your business sells to customers after 20h00 on a Friday, be ready to respond to the calls or emails after 20h00 on a Friday, especially if the sale is “right now or not at all” in nature. Twitter would be a great customer service channel for this.
  • If you’re going to tell customers their order is placed and then unilaterally cancel it with no notification, shut down your business and go home.

As for dinner – well, looks like its cereal or toast tonight!

7 thoughts on “I thought I’d found the holy grail – iPhone takeout ordering (UK)… it was not to be

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  2. Reply Laun May 8, 2010 9:13 am

    I admire your perseverance – thank u for doing the test drive. Did u have to pay online. If so, what happens now?

  3. Reply David Reinhardt May 8, 2010 10:03 am

    I didn’t get as far as a “pay” dialog so no, not really. What happens now is that Mrs Me was kind enough to put pizza in the oven while I was fighting with the website so that became dinner.

  4. Reply Anand May 8, 2010 12:29 pm

    Did you call them or complain through the web about their services? If so, did you get any feedback from them?

  5. Reply David Reinhardt May 8, 2010 10:46 pm

    Sure did, their call centre was closed at 20h45 on a Friday night. Not the best for a takeaway place IMHO. I tried email and no response. Also checked their Twitter stream but it was clear that they don’t monitor / use it for customer services.

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  7. Reply David Reinhardt May 12, 2010 12:21 pm

    FWIW – it’s now been 2 and a half working days since emailing their customer support address and I’ve heard nothing back.

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