Onetravel sucks at dark patterns

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/17/between-28-n-45.html

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I’m booking RIGHT NOW!

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Her first clue that something was up was the name of the element’s class: view_notification_random .

puppetslaughing

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I have to wonder how effective these particular effective dark patterns actually are. Sure, they probably convince some portion of their customer base to buy tickets they might have bought elsewhere. At the same time, they lost the trust of other users.

For instance, I used to use Expedia heavily for business travel. It was simple and I didn’t need to screw around with multiple web sites (at the risk of making support more difficult than dealing with airlines and hotels directly). Then I started to notice similar “19 people are looking at this!” bullshit and I stopped using it. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Even if it were true (which I doubted), it was annoying as hell and I don’t actually care.

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Yeah, they clearly suck at con artistry. And it’s true that they might also suck at helping you find good plane tickets (I don’t know, I have not and probably will not use the service), but I think it should be said that sucking at dark patterns doesn’t necessarily entail sucking at finding good ticket deals.

Harpaz demonstrated that the front end developers did a shit job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the back end developers (who made the ticket search algorithm) did a shit job (unless the back end devs are also the front end devs). While does suggest an increased probability that the algorithm is shit, it’s far from conclusive proof.

So, to answer Cory’s question “how good can they be at helping you buy your plane tickets?”: they could still be good, or they could be horrible—the dark pattern incident doesn’t provide enough information to know one way or the other.

Regardless, the fact that they use dark patterns at all (shoddily or not) shows that the company has a grifter culture, so I’m staying away from their site!

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They did what they were told to do, and they were honest in what they called their variables. Sounds like a good job to me.

The person to blame is the one that came up with the specifications, which I doubt was the actual programmer.

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Aren’t all these booking sites owned by the same company?

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“Just doing their jobs”
is not often an excuse
but you made it work

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I think you answered your own question … you do have enough information. If there are cockroaches in the dining room, then it’s difficult to assume they won’t be in the kitchen, too.

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Ha, they’ve automated the scam the Toyota dealership I was shopping at tried on me. As I was dickering with the dealership they had someone come into the manager’s office to say there was a couple looking at the exact car I was looking at, and ready to buy! What an amazing coincidence… So, same BS, just doing it on a computer.

I’d like to add that I think the term “dark patterns” is a confusing and poor description of the user hostile tricks used by shady websites.

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Hardly. The number of people who are going to read the code is vanishingly small, and even now that this trick has been outed the FTC is a largely toothless organization that may, if you try really, really hard and scam millions and millions of dollars from people, fine you for a small portion of your ill gotten gains in a settlement where you admit to nothing. It’s not like Onetravel’s spokesman is Mick Mulvaney.

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Oh no, this random number pattern works most of the time, and thats good enough.

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There’s even a slim chance the number range (28 - 45) was selected by testing (as opposed to a developer pulling it out of the ether.

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God, I wonder what the reaction would have been if you’d got up and gone “Oh wow, cool! Introduce me to them, won’t you?” and started heading out onto the lot to find this couple.

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Bill Hicks: “Does anyone here work in advertising or marketing?”

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28-45 people were annoyed by this dark pattern.

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Well, to be fair, “just following orders” is a bad excuse for ethnic cleansing, but a pretty acceptable excuse for writing javascript to generate a random number.

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My reaction would have been: “Oh well, i guess it wasn’t to be. Never mind, I’ll check out the Hyundai dealership up the street.”

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I’d have liked it if they’d gone one better and added some quotemarks, eg:

“38” people are “looking” at this flight

or maybe:

38 “people” are looking at this flight

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