Travel Buddy launched in late June as part of the new beta booking engine. By July we had produced a quick review 'Why the VTEC Travel Buddy app is so poor', which commented how, at the time, all the reviews of the app were one star (the lowest available).
Currently the app is rated 1.2 stars on iPhone and and 1.4 on Android. We urge eveyone to please write a review on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to warn people of the risks of using this app.
The download links are as follows:
In the original review of the app we concentrated on the lack of functionality the app had, we were aware some people were experiencing crashing but as the app and underlying website was still in beta at the time we expected things to improve before the release on the 1st August.
Unfortunately the reliablity issues have still continued and although there's been some updates that supposedly improved stability it seems reliability is getting worse. The app currently can't be relied on to do the only thing it was designed for, that is to display mobile tickets. The current advice is to show your email confirmation to the guard if the app crashes for you.
— Virgin Trains EC (@Virgin_TrainsEC) November 24, 2017
However, it's important to also remember some mTickets tickets purchased through the VTEC website are also valid on other operators. As a receipt is not valid for travel other operators may not be so keen to accept an email booking confirmation they have no way of validating, particularly as this issue as been going on for a while.
You are required to have a valid ticket. You would need to speak to VTEC as to where they can issue you an alternative ticket. ^SR
— CrossCountry trains (@CrossCountryUK) November 26, 2017
VTEC need to contact passengers with an mTicket booked for future travel and offer them the opportunity to change free of charge to either a regular ticket or a print at home ticket. It's unfair subjecting passengers to extra hassle because they produced an app that was not ready for release. The fault lies entirely with VTEC, it's also unfair for the other operator to have to accept an email confirmation that there's no way of verifying unless VTEC compensate them for any potential lost revenue through fake booking confirmations.
Got an mTicket? What should you do...
If you've already purchased an mTicket we advise that you see if you can download the ticket to the apps ticket wallet as soon as possible. If it works, you'll probably be fine, but don't order any new mTickets through the VTEC site as that might cause the ticket wallet to crash which would then make your already downloaded tickets also inaccessible. If your ticket includes travel on any other operator it might be a good idea to see if web support (03457 225 111) can exchange your ticket for a more reliable format. For the moment it seems to be sensible to avoid using the VTEC site for mobile tickets altogether, until the issues are resolved then it's just not worth the risk. Please note: despite us not recommending it, we will be buying mTickets from time to time for testing purposes to see if the process has improved.
What should VTEC do?
We said at the very beginning the mTicket was obsolete before VTEC even launched travel buddy. Many other operators are switching to the eTicket which is more flexibile. It doesn't need to be stored in a dedicated app and so it would not have suffered from these problems. Unfortunately everything VTEC have released this year seems to be lagging behind current best practice. We think VTEC need to launch eTickets and abolish the mTickets functionality. They've had months to make Travel Buddy more reliable when it just seems to be getting worse so it's probably worth just cutting their losses and go the much more customer friendly eTicket route.
So what's the difference? Read our blog 'Why not offer eTickets?'