To think this isn't acceptable even in a pandemic?

(54 Posts)
MinniMooC Sun 16-May-21 07:21:17

My council runs local facilities I'd like to use. Think things like: sign language course, first aid course, swimming classes at council owned pool, etc. Stuff the government encourages people to undertake.

I've tried and failed 3 times now to book in.

The first time I spent my attempt tryi6to figure out on a laptop how to book - after much reading I realised the multiple attempts to push me into the iPhone store or Google shop were the right links - you can book via smartphone app. Great. Except my (2 year old) smart phone is "too old" to run it. Hm.

Ring customer service. In hold for so long I used up my lunch break and gave up.

Called to book the following day - after 25min in a queue, woman tells me I can't book and pay by phone, nor are they accepting cash or in person bookings even if I travel there. I can only book by smartphone or in the website account. She walked me through setting up an account which, I shit you not, took 20 mins. The form wouldn't submit properly because I don't have a landline and it was a mandatory field. We eventually figured out a fake number it would accept. Then it wouldn't do the actual booking because I can only book a week in advance and the slot for next Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday (when I have a long weekend and and can attend any of the options) aren't released until a few days before at 9pm. So to book Friday I'd need to log in at 9pm after Tuesday. Argh!

I ask if I can book via the phone on e.g. Wednesday morning but I get told again; smartphone or website only.

I've given up trying - it's taken me longer to try to book this government-recommended class than doing the damn thing. I'm looking into private options with better systems.

AIBU to think that "smartphone only, or website plus mandatory landline number" is extremely restrictive?

I asked customer service about people who don't have mobiles or WiFi because libraries are closed, it credit cards, and she said she didn't know. Even in my own middle class, stable income family members like my mum. She wouldn't be able to book any courses because she doesn't have a smartphone and would never get past that stupid account setup form.

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MinniMooC Sun 16-May-21 07:23:54

Sorry should have been clear - she did say that older people used to go in to book council courses, but they've stopped any face to face contact and noncash now.

So if you want to go on the cooking course, swim, gyms, safety or first aid... Everything is on that system and elder people are essentially told the Same as me presumably (get a new smartphone or figure out the website)

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DdraigGoch Sun 16-May-21 07:27:17

I wonder if an equalities impact assessment was done

newnortherner111 Sun 16-May-21 07:41:19

@DdraigGoch I agree about an impact assessment. Quite possible the council has contracted out leisure services, and the contract allows the company to use the pandemic as an excuse to cut down on staff yet further.

CoRhona Sun 16-May-21 07:45:48

My mum doesn't have a smartphone but goes swimming regularly in the local council funded pool so it is definitely possible. Maybe depends on what system is used.

FusionChefGeoff Sun 16-May-21 07:48:56

Sounds exactly the same as here - was trying to book swimming for us all and I couldn't work the shitty mobile website booking form kept going round in circles as I didn't have a Leisure Card but you don't normally need one you just pay a bit more.

Gave up in the end

YellowScallion Sun 16-May-21 07:49:56

So the staff member walked you through setting up an account which has now been done but you aren't going to log on again to book a course because it's too much effort? You have the internet and you have an account so the only thing preventing you booking is you, sounds like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Not saying that the processes couldn't be better, but you haven't been prevented from booking at all. Restricting advanced bookings to no more than 7 days in advance is very normal right now.


ClarkeGriffin Sun 16-May-21 07:55:36

Why didn't you just put a mobile number in the land-line field? It generally just wants a number, doesn't care what it is or if it's the same as mobile.

You have access so not booking is now your own fault so you are a little unreasonable. But they could have made it better and I don't get why they can't take payment or bookings by phone, works for many other places during covid.

FlorencenotRatchet Sun 16-May-21 08:04:16

My mum had the same issues when trying to book her swimming classes (no smartphone or internet). The center had an option to book in person but she found this was always full due to app and online bookings! My son ended up creating her an account on his phone and now books her classes via the app.

NellWilsonsWhiteHair Sun 16-May-21 08:20:59

I recognise this, it’s crap. Feeling similar about the ridiculously crap apps for swimming round here (both boroughs contracted to different ‘social enterprise’ providers so have experience of two crap systems!). Firstly it’s awful for inclusion and access, secondly even if you have the tech and skills to do it it’s outrageously poor quality to the point of being unusable in a vast array of ‘user journeys’.

I am also so over ‘no cash or in-person bookings because covid’. That was fine last Spring while we were all so uncertain about how transmission worked. Now it’s just a lazy excuse for inadequate channel shift.

MinniMooC Sun 16-May-21 08:23:07

Yes. I think it IS too much effort, and I'm shocked at the "don't know, don't care" attitude when I queried about booking via the telephone line. For a council service. Many people aren't in my position, and even though I now have an account, it's still too much faff to log in at that sweet spot of after 9pm but before all the slots are taken.

The landline form but wouldn't accept a number starting in 07. But wouldn't accept all zeros either. I ended up putting in one I copied for a legitimate business but changed the number a bit because it's been so long since I have had or used a landline I couldn't remember the format when the customer service rep confirmed there was no way to get past it without.

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Plumedenom Sun 16-May-21 08:24:58

It is an absolute excuse. You can go to a supermarket in person, why can't you go to a council run service?

MinniMooC Sun 16-May-21 08:25:23

I think some of us are in the same council area!! Yes it kept assuming on the website that I had a regular paid membership. On direct debit. Which I never have, or need, so a lot of the online content was n/a e.g. the booking FAQ

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BlueLobelia Sun 16-May-21 08:26:17

I agree. I do not have a smart phone or a phone that uses apps and things like the concept of vaccine passports (for overseas or simply going out to pubs and cafes) being on an app fill me with irritated annoyance. Fine, I can buy one (reluctantly) but there are plenty of people about who are not tech savvy or simply do not wish to purchase such devices and they are going to be left out.

Not just that, but all the public carparks in our area only take payments via an app.

gymbummy Sun 16-May-21 08:29:53

Our gym is like this, you have to book a slot online, except you can't because the website is a pile of shit. After faffing for half an hour realised you can only do it by paying the £9 non member fee, except, I AM a member and logged in as said member. Ring up only to be told I must use the website by mhich point my blood pressure is through the roof and I'm opening the gin

DirtyBlonde Sun 16-May-21 08:32:53

They obviously want people to use online booking.

But there should be workarounds for those who cannot (or who just really don't want to)

I would ask to use the disability accessible version, not because of disability but because you do not own the necessary tech to support the system as set up. If they say, as I expect, there is none then I would make a formal request for the impact assessment and start writing letters about this.

However, that you can only book during slots when booking is open (the last part of your difficulties) is very likely to be held to be reasonable, because availability is limited (places aren't running to capacity right now) and booking closer to time of use reduces no-shows

Xenia Sun 16-May-21 08:33:09

It is the way we seem to be going. It is the same with other services etc on line at times - they seem to want to push everyone into one method. Even worse for some people in my work who owe me money sometimes they make me spent 30 minutes filling in their new supplier forms which is longer than the original advice took to give them - it feels like I should double my charges at times to make up for their time consuming admin.

BeanandBall Sun 16-May-21 08:33:27

It's discriminatory, I looked into it for my employer, think events company. We can't move to entirely online bookings as it discriminates against older people / those without Internet.

ChloeCrocodile Sun 16-May-21 08:36:09

I think it must be very unusual to not have a landline tbh. I don’t have a home phone but there is still a phone line and number because the internet connection requires it. The number of people who have neither a home phone nor an internet connection must be very small.

That said, booking online only shuts out a lot of people and there should be an option to pay cash too. I’d request to see the equalities impact assessment but most likely you’ll get told it doesn’t matter if some groups can’t access the service “because covid”. Much like when public toilets were mostly closed last spring.

Whitchurch Sun 16-May-21 08:37:43

Get a local MP or councillor involved. Ask if this meets the requirement for inclusion. It doesn't.

ChristmasAlone Sun 16-May-21 08:40:47


Our gym is like this, you have to book a slot online, except you can't because the website is a pile of shit. After faffing for half an hour realised you can only do it by paying the £9 non member fee, except, I AM a member and logged in as said member. Ring up only to be told I must use the website by mhich point my blood pressure is through the roof and I'm opening the gin

Mine looks the same but by the time it Comes to booking the £7.80 is removed. Try go all the way through.

MisdemeanourOnTheFloor Sun 16-May-21 08:43:29

Yes! And I'm relatively young and tech savvy. Spent a good 40mins trying to book onto a swim class for my baby who hasn't really been able to do anything 'non-park' during this pandemic. No telephone support, but there appeared to be a faulty circular link in the end so I gave up.
Not an isolated incident either; I do wonder if some have bothered to test their websites, and I also don't understand why unmanned phone numbers are still up (especially when I have to sit through 4/5mins of pre-recorded Covid drivel to learn this)!

SchrodingersImmigrant Sun 16-May-21 08:44:14

I think it must be very unusual to not have a landline tbh.

Majoroty of people around me don't have landline. It's absolutely not unusual. I've never encountered a for which required landline and wouldn't accept anything else, luckily.

Op, have you updated your phone? If you have android look into updates. It should keep ipdaying regularly and it doesn't go obsolete in 2 years.

It's a pita and imho, yes, lots of places use covid as an excuse still and will continue to do so. I really want to see that ridiculous system and form tho🙈 I like challenges😂

MisdemeanourOnTheFloor Sun 16-May-21 08:47:18

Some on here have mentioned public toilets and I agree, absolutely shocking. I was 'nearly' (not quite!) in tears when I first braved town with baby in November. Multi-storey carpark with lifts out of service, no toilets open, so had to head to the main shopping complex with only 1 lift working, but only 1 family per 'journey', and a queue a mile long. Nowhere to sit either to feed baby; again I gave up and went home narrowly avoiding pissing myself on a dual carriageway!!!!

Abraxan Sun 16-May-21 08:47:42

Re the app, a two year old phone shouldn't be an issue so long as you've done the updates. You may need to update the operating system to use the app, but I can't imagine any brand of phone which won't update when just two years old.

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