I applied for a job at LNER recently for 'Retail Testing Manager'. Based on my understanding of the job spec (which was very vague) it would involve responsibility for all the LNER retail systems. This would most likely include the web booking engine, ticket machines, app as well as the systems used on-board and in the ticket offices. It may also include the EPOS systems used by the catering teams.

After a wait of around six weeks I finally heard back that they would not be proceeding with my application. It's very unfortunate as it combined something I was very knowledgeable in (my day job) with something I cared about (the East Coast service). I have worked on a number of high volume eCommerce sites in the past which would have put me in a great position to develop a testing approach which would massively improve the quality of the public facing retail systems used by LNER.

I suspect that the reason I wasn't even considered is because of the bad relationship developed with the eCommerce team in 2017. It is probably a bit of a understatement that I was highly vocal about the quality of the new booking engine when it was released. It felt frustrating as the booking engine really did feel like a massive step backwards and as well as having missing features it also contained a large number of bugs, some of which still exist today. Unfortunately as I started identifying more issues the eCommerce team cut off contact in August 2017, but that just made me more vocal with the criticisms and frustration that nothing appeared to be done.

With LNER I thought it was a good opportunity to put our differences aside and try and resume a more positive dialogue with the company with the aim of improving the experience for passengers. So far I've met those in charge of customer experience, customer relations, loyalty and marketing, but there appears to be no will for the eCommerce department to make contact even though this is an area I believe I could make a difference. Even if they thought it was too much of a risk hiring one of their most vocal critics I've always been happy to give my feedback and assistance when there's been an opportunity to.

For me the timing of the job ad was perfect, I'd just been thinking that it was time to move on from my current role and ideally was after something that was outside London but had good connections to it (this role was in York). I would have been very happy to set aside previous differences and play my part in improving the LNER retail experience. 

I had written quite a lot in 2017 about the issues with the booking site but there's still evidence of poor or no testing in updates to the site since. A recent example is when the family return tickets were launched, they promoted it on social media but when you tried to book these tickets you'd find it wasn't working correctly in many cases (see here), you'd expect before a new product is launched that some testing would take place.

There's other examples of lack of attention to detail that I notice and although wouldn't strictly come under the 'Retail Testing Manager' role it would still mean I'd be able to get it put right quickly. A recent example is when the new menus were launched at the end of September they put the order of the rotations out of sync meaning if you looked at this weeks menu you'd actually see next weeks.

For those wondering, my skills are a mix of DevOps and testing, although most people think of these as separate disciplines I tend to find that they're complementary. I'm mostly involved with DevOps as I started off my career as a Unix sysadmin and progressed from there, my eye for detail meant I was often asked to assist with testing too. I've found the knowledge of how things work makes a better tester as they can look for things a non-technical tester might not consider.