This is the text of a National Rail travel alert email that I received this morning.
Problems have been reported which may affect your journey between Balham (BAL) and Shepherd’s Bush (SPB)
More details of this disruption can be found here: http://nationalrail.co.uk/service_disruptions/76437.aspx
To see how this disruption affects your journey and to get alternative options planned for you, please use the Online Journey Planner
Alternatively, for up to date information for your station, use the Live Departure Boards.
Prefer to get in touch by phone? Call TrainTracker on 0871 200 49 50 (10p per min, mobiles higher) or text your journey details to 84950 to use TrainTracker Text
You can manage your alerts by visiting: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/personal/member/myAccount
Please do not reply to this email as it is sent from an unmonitored address. If you need to contact us, you can do so here: http://nationalrail.co.uk/feedback
Can you spot the obvious idiocy here?
It’s an HTML email. That’s obvious from the links that appear in it. Links to things like the Online Journey Planner and the Live Departure Boards. But there are a couple of links that are written as plain text URLs – ones that you can’t just click on. And one of them is the most important link in the email – the link to the full information about the problems.
In order to read whatever is on the other end of that link, you’d need to copy it and paste it into the location bar in your browser. That’s simple enough, of course, on a desktop computer. But surely one of the important use cases for these alerts is people standing on a platform trying to work out what’s going on with their train – in which case they’d almost certainly be using a smartphone. And copy and paste isn’t the easiest of things to do on a smartphone.
Someone in the National Rail Travel Alerts department is more than a little confused about how URLs in email work.