Sunday, December 3

I have tried to buy a cheap ticket on the Renfe website. There are 167,521 people in front of me waiting in line online

Our high-speed train network, AVE, turns 30 these days in operation. Today a promising promotion was launched according to which during the next three days users will be able to access one of the 100,000 tickets at 15 euros for different routes and destinations. The discount is considerable, but the problem is that at the moment the renfe web system, highly criticized in the past, shows problems again, and it is virtually impossible to buy one of those tickets on that website (but there is a solution).

Wait, AVE tickets at 15 euros?. The promotion that celebrates the 30th anniversary of the AVE in Spain puts 100,000 tickets on sale for its AVE and Long Distance services. The promotional price of 15 euros represents a substantial reduction, and you only have to take into account two things.

The first, that tickets will be sold on April 22, 23 and 24 on the Renfe website. The second, which can be used between July 1 and September 30, 2022 —with standard accessories such as changes and cancellations—.

I want one. Well, get ready, because right now it seems impossible to complete the process. Once the Renfe website is accessed and origin, destination and dates are indicated, the system collapses. It does not show prices and availability to confirm the reservation, and it directly shows a page with the message “You are on the waiting list” and an estimate of the time it will take to continue with the process.

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In addition to that estimated waiting time, it also indicates how many people are in front of you in that virtual queue. In our tests we were told more than an hour of waiting time and more than 166,321 people waiting in front. 30 minutes later, there are 144,115 people in line at the front. It seems there is a while.

Why 700,000 euros is a ridiculous budget for

old problems…. The criticisms and complaints received by Renfe regarding its website come from afar. His controversial redesign project was criticized for the 700,000 euros invested. They seemed scarce —Mercadona invested 20 million euros in rebuilding its website and its electronic commerce system— and by the time it finally landed, it was not clear if that renovation affected only the aesthetic aspect and usability of its website —which has certainly gained integers — or its inner workings.

It was indicated that this first phase would be followed by a second of “modifications that will improve the process of online ticket sales.” At Renfe they seemed to estimate that it would be ready in the fall of 2022, but it is not clear if these improvements have actually been completed. Judging by what’s going on, no.

… new problems. The load caused by this promotion has been a good litmus test for Renfe’s systems, which currently allow you to choose this initial data but then simply display this informative message through the Queue-it services, a system customer queue management.

Booking (any) ticket is now almost impossible. The problem is that this collapse of the Renfe website does not only affect promotional tickets —for which it might have been a good idea to create a parallel system— but also for normal ones. We have tried to book a return ticket from Madrid (Puerta de Atocha) to Barcelona (Sants) for this coming Monday, April 25, and the same thing. More than an hour of waiting, and more than 160,000 people in line.

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The solution, the mobile app. On Twitter the complaints are numerous, and in a recent message the Renfe spokesmen have indicated who advise using the Renfe mobile app, “in which there is less traffic than on the web”. Indeed, it is, and both in the search for promotional tickets —you have to find them first, of course, because many dates and destinations simply do not enjoy the promotion— and in conventional tickets, the application works without apparent problems.

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