– what a horrible mess. If you want to compare two journeys, you might think it’s OK to look for Journey A, open a new window to look for Journey B, then return to the Journey A window and continue to book it. Oh no… if you do that, Journey B’s data is the latest in your session variables, and so clicking “Book” in the Journey A window will take you to the sales page for Journey B instead. Thanks.

That’s not what this post is about. But it is a very similar problem, probably stemming from the same horrendous reliance on session variables.

I don’t know why I ended up using Firefox to make my booking: normally I use Safari. But anyway, there was Firefox, and I was using it. I went through the booking process, and when asked to log in I typed in my own email and password.

I think many months ago my wife, Laura, had used Firefox on this computer to book some tickets. I have a recollection that somewhere during the booking process, a field defaulted to Laura’s email address: it may have been on the login prompt, or it may have been later on in the “where should confirmation be emailed to?” field.  I didn’t really pay much attention, unfortunately.

I checked my account today to make sure the booking had gone through – I’d tried to collect my tickets from the station too soon after booking and they obviously weren’t there, but I wanted to make sure everything was OK. The tickets weren’t in my account. I later found that the transaction details had appeared in Laura’s account.

Cue a call to Customer Service, which, with the best will in the world, is hardly the best name for it. Indian ladies repeatedly telling me it was all OK because I was named as the cardholder on the transaction, and names aren’t printed on tickets. Hardly the point. They gave me the customer support email address to email, and I have.

I can only think that the problem arose because somewhere between my two windows (Journey A and Journey B), one had a session variable saying I had at one point been Laura, and the other had one that said I was logged in: the site then put 2 and 2 together to make 5. I might be wrong about this, but at the moment it’s the only explanation I can think of. I also very much doubt that will ever give me a decent explanation of what happened, although if they do tell me I’ll give them all due credit for their honesty.

UPDATE: I had many unsuccessful email exchanges with thetrainline’s customer support people, and gave up. Then, the other day, I got a very nice message: see