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Unveiling Sri Lanka’s Most Frustrating E-commerce Websites

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In today’s digital age, e-commerce has become an integral part of our lives, offering convenience and accessibility like never before. However, not all online shopping experiences are created equal, and some websites can leave us feeling more exasperated than satisfied. In this blog post, I delve into the realm of e-commerce in Sri Lanka, shedding light on three notable websites that have managed to frustrate me time and time again: the Sri Lanka Railways Ticket Reservation website, the Commercial Bank Digital Banking website, and the Dialog Axiata Selfcare App. Join me as I uncover the challenges faced by users and explore the issues that make these websites and apps the epitome of annoyance in the world of Sri Lankan e-commerce.

Sri Lanka Railways

I was motivated to write this post due to the extremely unsatisfactory user experience I had while using the Sri Lanka Railways Online Seat Reservation Website and Mobile App. Despite being a service backed by SLT Mobitel and launched only a year ago (The latest cutting-edge system according to Ada Derana Business), it is unacceptable to provide such a half-baked e-commerce experience. I refer to it as “half-baked” because instead of sending the tickets through email in the form of a QR code or delivering physical tickets via a courier, they require passengers to visit a nearby “mTicketing” service-enabled station to collect the tickets.

To make matters worse, passengers are unable to select their seats according to their preferences. Seats are automatically assigned based on availability. I ended up paying 5,000/- plus service charges for two tickets, and an additional 1,120/- for the trip from my residence to the Maradana Railway station just to collect the tickets. It was an incredibly frustrating user experience. User experience (UX) is crucial in the realm of e-commerce, and the Sri Lanka Railways Online Seat Reservation Website and Mobile App fall miserably short in this regard because users have to personally collect physical tickets.

ComBank Digital

When the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, also known as ComBank, launched its new service called “ComBank Digital,” I had high hopes that it would address some of the basic issues faced by end users of its previous system, ComBank Online. And indeed, it did resolve some of those issues. However, there was one crucial feature from the old system that was not carried over to the new system: receipts for online transfers. In the past, when you completed an online fund transfer using ComBank Online, you would receive an e-receipt via email.

Unfortunately, ComBank Digital does not provide this feature. Instead, it simply sends you an alert confirming that the transfer was successful, which is not helpful to me. One day, I became frustrated with not receiving receipts and decided to search for a solution online. It was then that I discovered I had to go through a three-step procedure just to download a receipt. Aventude PVT Ltd, the IT firm behind the e-banking service, claims that customers choose to work with them because they remove technology roadblocks.

However, when I have to go on a hunt for a receipt after a successful fund transfer, this cannot be considered removing technology roadblocks. It is simply a case of bad user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). It would be much more efficient if they simply sent the receipt by email and saved me the time and effort of searching for it. I have sent a direct message to Thushara Wijewardena, the CEO of Aventude PVT Ltd, through Twitter, addressing this issue. I am hopeful that she will instruct her engineers to reintroduce the feature of receiving e-receipts by email.

Update: Effective January 5th, 2024, as communicated via the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC’s official Facebook page, customers are now able to download “Cyber Receipts” immediately upon completion of a transaction.

Dialog Axiata

I use the Dialog Selfcare App to handle tasks such as paying bills, activating or deactivating additional services, and purchasing data add-ons. One day, I needed to urgently settle a bill, but my phone was unavailable for some reason that I can’t recall now. As a result, I logged into Dialog My Account on the web instead. It was at that moment I realized that the self-care app does not synchronize the connections I added to the app with the web-based My Account Service. Ideally, it should have displayed all of my accounts associated with my NIC (National Identity Card), but it failed to do so.

To provide some context, I have three mobile numbers, three Dialog TV Accounts, and one Home Broadband connection. I had to manually add each connection individually. Adding a connection involved a three-step process that required PIN verification. Since I had a total of seven connections, I had to follow 21 steps to add all of my accounts. Additionally, I had to verify seven different PINs. This not only indicates a poor user interface and user experience, but also reflects a lack of common sense on the app’s design. Dialog claims that “The Future is Today,” but with the Selfcare app failing to sync my accounts with the web version, it seems like the future is much further away than I had anticipated.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, the e-commerce landscape in Sri Lanka presents frustrating experiences that hinder user satisfaction. The Sri Lanka Railways Ticket Reservation website, Commercial Bank Digital Banking website, and the Dialog Axiata Selfcare App exemplify these challenges. The Sri Lanka Railways Online Seat Reservation Website and Mobile App fall short in user experience, requiring physical ticket collection and lacking seat selection options. ComBank Digital lacks e-receipts for online transfers, forcing users to undergo a cumbersome process.

Dialog’s Selfcare App fails to sync connections, resulting in a manual and time-consuming account setup. Improving user-centric design and functionality is crucial for Sri Lankan e-commerce websites. Seamless experiences, intuitive interfaces, and modern conveniences like digital tickets and receipts are essential for customer satisfaction and trust. It’s vital for businesses to listen to user feedback and address frustrations to elevate the e-commerce industry in Sri Lanka.

Update: 10 AUG 2023

A topic of discussion in Parliament around July 20, 2023, or a date very close to it, was about passengers needing to collect a physical ticket from the train station for seats reserved online. You can watch the video of the discussion by clicking on this link. Hopefully, the government will step in to enhance the functionality of the system. On another note, the Self Care App developed by Dialog is experiencing performance issues. Initially, I didn’t bring this up as I assumed it might be a problem specific to my device. However, upon discovering that other Android users are also facing the same problem, I have now decided to share this update. I have notified Dialog Axiata about the problem.

If you found this content helpful, I kindly ask you to leave your feedback in the comments section below. Sharing it on social media would also be greatly appreciated. In order to promote meaningful and respectful dialogue, I request that you use your full name when commenting. Please note that any comments containing profanity, name-calling, or a disrespectful tone will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding and participation.

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