Sunday, January 06, 2008

Seek Assistance

This may be a little ranty and off track, but right now I'm wondering what it is about the London traveller that makes them ignore words on a screen? Picture the scene, you walk up to an automatic ticket barrier on the Tube or a station platform. You pop your ticket in and the little machine bleeps and the words "Seek Assistance" pop up. What do you do?

Well, most people would try it again - just in case - but something strange occurs it seems in the London traveller, for they don't try it tice, they don't even try it three times. Often they will shove that ticket through four or maybe five times, see the words "Seek Assistance" flash up and then stand there like a lost child whilst the queue behind them gets ever larger.

They may then scrabble around in their bag, presumably because they think that the ticket they bought earlier is actually another older ticket. All the while that queue grows. Then they try it again, and again it tells them to "Seek Assistance" but do they? Rarely. It usually requires the 'assistanc'e to seek them or they call over to the dumbstruck commuter.

Why is this? What is it about the words "Seek Assistance" in a train station that don't make sense? I can understand retrying the ticket once, if it's a paper one it might just be that the little magnetic strip is a bit knackered, but multiple times is just silly, and annoying for those behind you too.

In fact it is almost as annoying as those people that go to the cash machine and then act like they've never used one before and ponder deeply upon the question "Enter Your Pin" and then stare blankly at the figures. Why do they not know how much money they need before they get there? They must have known they needed money after all. Couldn't they have worked it out before hand and not waste time that I cannot get back?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's probably because they think endlessly trying the ticket / oyster is less stressful than waiting for some jobsworth imbecile to get over their bit of power and actually open the barrier.

Personally I find those that stand on the left on escalators and stroll along at a snail's pace while reading or texting, much more annoying

cassander said...

Well the problem is that, as you well know, electronic information from any authority is more likely to be wrong than correct, so most people will retry quite a few times rather than meekly rely on instructions to "seek assistance". Which is, in fact, a good thing - except if you're immediately after them in the queue.

For example, how often do you take the information flashed from motorway matrix signs as gospel? In the majority of cases, the speed limitations to 50, then 40 mph relate to an accident which was cleared away hours ago - but mysteriously, the matrix signs are not switched off. Once I missed a major business meeting overseas because the M25 signs informed me that the motorway was actually closed between junctions X and Y. It wasn't until I was irrevocably committed to the North Circular that I heard on the radio that this was complete rubbish. So I missed my flight...

dreamingspire said...

So which tube stations do you use? My experience during occasional visits (2 or 3 times a month) is twofold: either they try twice and then go and plead with the person on duty at the gate line to let them through (which he/she usually does), or else the gate is schizoid and says Seek Assistance but also opens. Weird.

Mrs Smallprint said...

Given that we are told that many are leaving school without being able to read, perhaps that's your answer.

canvas said...

All I know is that it makes me want to sit down and cry. Really.

:(

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's bloody annoying that they keep trying, but what are the chances of getting some good assistance in a tube station ? If the message said "Go see the angry looking man in the corner who will grunt and let you through" then it would seem a more realistic goal.

But then, none of this compares to the idiots who decide to start searching for their ticket while already blocking the barrier. Obviously, these people are too pre-occupied to think to move out of the way, let other people through, find the ticket then approach.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I much preferred the old ticketing regime, before Oyster cards came in. My experience of Oyster has been troublesome, simply because of the annoying 'swipe' system behind it- it's caused me no end of headaches! When you try to fix a problem with it, you have to deal with someone behind bazillion inch thick glass and a poorly amplified comms unit, made much worse by their English being anything but (and they can be really officious, grumpy cunts, too). Not being familiar with the ins and outs of TfL policy or Oyster, I never quite 'get' what they're explaining, anyway.

Still, back up here we still use 'cash' to pay for our journeys. How novel! Old-fashioned, but it seems to work, somehow. And everyone speaks English English!

Ed said...

I agree with Dizzy. Most of the time the LT "imbeciles" listen to what you say, ignore it, then let you through the luggage gate.

Alan Douglas said...

Despite being a totally "logical" person, I dislike being ordered around by a machine. Especially one which went to Eton - what's wrong with "Ask for help" ?

Alan Douglas

dreamingspire said...

ed, their instructions are to let you through because that is judged to be best for you, for others whose progress you might be blocking, and for the operators of the service.

Tim H said...

I’m too scared to go onto the underground; especially during the rush hour.

The one that gets me is passport control on entry to the UK when you are stuck in a queue and the number of people who get caught by surprise that they need to produce their passport and then can’t find it.

Not that getting through quicker would be of any benefit as you still have to wait an hour to get your luggage.

Anonymous said...

...but not as annoying as people who do their entire personal banking at the ATM, deposit envelopes, multiple cards etc etc.... !!!

Anonymous said...

I was in Australia recently and several times saw a sign in a sandwich shop which asked people talkin gon mobile phones to stand aside until they finish their conversation and then rejoin the queue. It seemed a bit odd at first but actually makes sense. Perhaps they need a sign ahead of the ticket barriers that says "If you see a sign that says "seek assistance" then you should "seek assistance""

sherlock said...

At airports, why don't the same divs read the signs saying take change out and boots off well in advance. And yes its okay to xray your phone.