By Graham K. Rogers
I have been spending some time looking in the iTunes section for Health and Fitness. Earlier I examined iDrinkwater an app that helps users monitor fluid intake. I saw that in the list of free apps, Number 4 was The Pizza Company 1112: from the local company, The Pizza Company. As much as I enjoy pizza, I was intrigued as to why this would be listed in the Health and Fitness section.
Several years ago, the Pizza Company was Pizza Hut. Sort of. For business reasons, the concessionnaire - The Minor Food Group - split with the Pizza Hut and they went their separate ways, although both make and deliver pizza of course. In those early days, however, when Minor Group still ran the company here, Pizza Hut made a little bit of history by being one of the first companies here with an online presence that allowed users to order pizza.
It was a little clunky and as part of the process an SMS message was sent to the staff, so that they would be aware that a customer had placed an order. As part of an early demonstration, Tony Waltham (then Editor of the Bangkok Post, Database) had a huge pile of pizzas delivered to the conference room at the Queen Sirikit Center where a speaker was outlining the mechanics of the web ordering system to delegates at the Netinfo Conference that year.
Times have moved on. Both The Pizza Company and Pizza Hut have sites here, as well as Dominos have online ordering sites.
But the Pizza Company has that app in Health and Fitness. . . .
The ordering sections for the The Pizza Company 1112 (its full name) are set out nicely. The items available for ordering are beautifully photographed and on the smaller screen of the iPhone (5s) show up with rich colours and in good contrast. Prices are clearly marked. A sidebar that can be hidden, reveals sections, like Salads or pasta.
As a user scrolls through the items for ordering, it is easy to add (or remove) items from the basket. As the basket is updated, so the running total of the current order is also revised, making it clear to the user what the cost will be. The app works in Thai and English.
The login and registration was less smooth. When I filled out the registration screen, a map identified the location wrongly. I was able to enter the address fairly easily although Autofill was not active at all. When I tried to register, I was told that the email was already in use. I had obviously registered online before (and forgotten). Then I tried logging in, but when I tried to have an email sent to inform me of a new password, I was informed that the account was inactive.
I tried the contact number 1112 but that only offers two ordering options. I tried the pizza track and waited for someone who spoke English to come online. After over 4 minutes listening to advertising, someone spoke to me and I explained that I needed assistance with the app.
The person I spoke to did not understand the problem and said the problem was a bad network, when clearly it was not. She went away again. The next time, account information was taken, but I was also asked for the password: it was resetting that that had been part of the problem. Each time I gave some information she went away and returned after a short time.
In the end, she could not find the email, nor the address, nor the phone number I provided, so she suggested that I order by phone, which was not the object of the exercise; and if there is an app set up for online ordering, it needs to work, even for those whose accounts are inactive.
As the staff at the 1112 number were unable to assist, I took the final option of writing email to the support service at Pizza Company, but that fared no better as the email was rejected. Maybe iCloud emails are too new for KSC: "the first commercial Internet service provider (ISP) in Thailand".
Without doubt, the app is well-designed and provides those intending to order with a good range of options. The background functions did not work as I had hoped. Nor was the connection - a connection that the app indicates should be used - suitable for technical assistance: the ordering staff may be limited in this area.
Asking staff who are employed for pizza sales is stretching them and it is unfair to ask them to take on this extra function: the 1112 number is for ordering. There needs to an option for technical queries; or an alternative number should be provided. It would also be useful if the Support service were able to recieve emails.
I still don't get that Health and Fitness connection. . . .
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.