Saturday 4 May 2013

Cynicism Surrounds Sapphire [2]

A look at the Arriva-Sapphire web site.
fbb has previously commented on the swathes of clutter that seem to overwhelm modern web sites, often making it harder and harder to excavate the information the user might actually require. This site is a classic of its type. Pictures and headers whizz across the screen with hardly long enough to read the text ...

... and often resulting in corrupted images as above. And this is a picture of Rossett Church as delivered repeatedly to fbb's screen.
Agreed, fbb's broadband is rather narrow, but, even so, this sort of wobble does not inspire confidence.

We have already seen some of the patronising content in yesterday's blog (read again)

Surely ALL buses should be punctual ...

... and hopefully ALL buses will be safe!

A "no quibble guarantee" sounds splendid but what exactly does it offer.
"Dear Mr Arriva, I did not enjoy my ride from Rossett to Wrexham, please can I have my money back?" There's no detail of the charter or its provisions on the web site.

   Sapphire will use drivers who have had additional   
                           customer care training                      
Shouldn't ALL your drivers deliver good customer care?

But at least you can buy your ticket on-line ...
... but not singles or returns, only day, weekly or longer. Indeed, nowhere does the Sapphire site tell you what you might have to pay for a single journey. Perhaps single fares are on sale at a Sapphire premium price?

And, if you do seek to telephone for fares information ...
... it will cost you dearly and such information is simply not available at weekends, arguably when casual users might be looking to take a trip to Chester. Of course, you have to spend even more to contact Traveline for timetable information ...
... and, to add insult to injury, to comment, complain or query the sparkling bus between Wrexham and Chester by post, you write to Luton; where else?
This simply does not equate to Premium customer care.

But geography isn't Arriva's strong point. The web site is ready to lure excited potential passengers to experience all four proposed Sapphire routes and there is a helpful map to remind web-surfers where these services operate.
Durham has moved to Darlington, Leicester to Derby; but it is only a diagram, after all. But surely even a low grade GCSE georgraphy candidate could use an atlas and see that Arriva's Wrexham has moved to near Montgomery in mid-Wales. And is that Aylesbury or Oxford that has been air-lifted to obliterate Windsor?

And talking of maps ...

Arriva's leaflets (and the main company web site) offer good, clear maps for each timetable; this for our particular service 1:-
But the premium Sapphire site does not have the premium map. Instead it offers ...
... a google map overlay or a pointless line diagram ...
... inexplicably turned upside-down with north at the bottom. But then, if the web designers don't know where Wrexham is ... ?

For fbb, Arriva's on-line sparkle is a bit on the dull side.

It will be interesting to see how the passengers react. Bet they really enjoy all the stop announcements in English and in Welsh. There are at least 45 on the service 1!
Many of them appear to be announced twice; that might well be 180 stop names. What a pleasant travelling experience!

 Next Bus Blog : Sunday 5th May 


  1. For a more upbeat assessment of Arriva Sapphire following a test purchase, please see today's Omnibuses Blog

    For a more geographic representation of the four Sapphire routes, see this Omnibuses post

  2. The more positive view is encouraging, to be sure. My disappointment is focused purely on the on-line publicity and the lack of "premier" service there. My Leicester correspondent has been commissioned to sample the Oadby Sapphire when it appears. I await his report with eager anticipation.

  3. As for the route maps, above the Google maps for each location, there is a link that goes to a PDF showing the other style map. As for the line diagram, it's also standard to start at A, and work down to B for ease of use. As there is two different directions the route travels in (and two web pages) one will be of course in the incorrect geographical orientation.

    Each of the routes shows sample fares under the main page. This is similar to many other operators, where different fare zones means a complex matrix which passengers are unable to easily understand.

  4. One more observation about the Sapphire website: it is extremely mobile-unfriendly.

  5. It's an interesting perspective you have on Arriva's sapphire service. Personally I feel as a frequent passenger to the service that it certainly is a considerable upgrade from the older London cascades that were once used on the service.

    That said I feel it does exactly what Arriva had set out to do, that is to inform and promote the service to potential customers who may otherwise travel to Chester/Wrexham by their own personal transport.

    We'd also appreciate it if videos from The North West Bus Blog where credited to their rightful owners.

    Tom Harrison
    The North West Bus Blog