verture.net — left handed typing since 2001

Magnifying glass for search box

How to buy tickets from irishrail.ie using Firefox 25.10.2009

In case you are an annoyed non-Windows user of the Irish Rail website, here's a little guide on how to purchase tickets using Firefox.

  1. Install the User-Agent extension and restart Firefox
  2. Change the user-agent string to Internet Explorer 6.0
  3. Make your reservation online
  4. Notice how clicking 'Purchase' doesn't give you an error message?
  5. Print the confirmation email
  6. Bob's your uncle

Why am I writing this post?

I've been buying tickets from Irish Rail for the last two weekends. The first time around I tried three times to purchase the tickets online, but was met with this error screen every time I clicked the 'Purchase'-button at the end of my reservation.
Irish Rail error message

I got curious. I was using the recommended software for the platform (Firefox 3.5.3 on Mac OS X), yet it still didn't work. Could Irish Rail really be checking the User-Agent string at the very last step of the purchasing process, to give me the error message?

Yes, dear reader, they do. I followed the above procedure and I could purchase the tickets. 2 things wrong here: 1) giving the error message after going through the reservation process, while already knowing that the browser is not supported at the beginning, seems pretty user-unfriendly and, 2) it's obviously not a browser issue, since I could buy the tickets, so why check for the user-agent string in the first place?

There are around a million other things wrong with Irish Rail's website, but they are covered better in this article by Paul Fitzsimons.

While their website might suck, I've had no problems with their real world service. It's actually quite good.

› Bio (sort of)

Bio pictureverture.net is the personal website of me, Jonas Voss, and this is my blog. I've lived in Dublin, Ireland from 2005-10, currently live in London, and was born and fully customized in Copenhagen, Denmark. I write about anything that comes to mind. Really.
You can send me an email › if that's how you roll.

Disclaimer: I speak for myself, not my employer. srsly. || This work is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa License.