Toyota’s Roadside app bug that delayed my tow, or was it a feature?

The running joke between QA professionals and Developers is to sometimes call a bug a feature. The premise behind it is pure sarcasm on all sides (well at least I think). What one person may consider a bug may actually be a feature and what another person considers a feature may actually be a bug. In between that “bug” and that “feature” may even be a usability suggestion.

Well last week I had the week of all weeks. On Sunday evening my cell phone gave up on me. On Tuesday my printer was malfunctioning. On Wednesday I was on my way to a business meeting with a toddler in tow, as I had been given permission to bring her. I packed lunch, snacks, two laptops, and all the materials I needed for the meeting and loaded them into the car. I turned on my car and it started saying all kinds of things to me, “CHECK OIL”, “CONTACT DEALER”, “BRAKE ON”, “ALIENS ARE COMING”. Okay maybe I’m lying about the alien thing.

I decided to call the dealership first. When I called the dealership they advised that I call Toyota roadside assistance so they could tow my car to the dealership. I then called roadside assistance and received the automated system. The automated system guided me through the process smoothly (at first). A text message and a link was sent to my phone and I was advised to put my phone on speaker and follow the steps. The automated system then guided me through the app. I was able to fill out my name, the type of car I had, what I presumed may have happened to the car and more.

The problem occurred when it came to narrowing down my location. I was allowed to “allow” the location and after I allowed my address appeared on the screen. However, there was a map dependency where it forces the user to also point the location with the pin on the map. So even though your address has already been allowed you still have to select it on the map with a pin. Between it being an usually hot November day and a toddler walking around the car saying, “Mommy, it’s time to go”, for some reason I couldn’t get the pin right. Every time I adjusted the pin it gave me the address of 2 houses up or it would go to a completely different street. When I tried to override it and type my address in again it would then tell me to select the pin on the map. If I didn’t adjust the pin but save my entry it would give me the wrong address. When I tapped to edit all of the information I entered previously would disappear and I’d have to start completely over by filling out my name, type of car etc. So eventually I decided to leave the wrong address in and type the correct address with a note in the comment section of the app. In the note I informed customer service why I couldn’t enter the correct address initially. After that I got a call from a roadside assistance customer service rep and they confirmed my address and that the tow was on the way.

Before customer service hung up I suggested that maybe the app shouldn’t be so dependent on selecting the pin on the map. If a user enters an address that should override anything else and the map should update. Or allowing the location should be just what it is. Allow the location and let it be. One person may say there were a few bugs here and some additional usability suggestions. Another person may say the app was fine and it was human error. But what I say is that I am very thankful that my daughter and I were in our home garage and not outside on the road somewhere. Whether it’s a bug or a feature people are dependent on technology and in some situations there may be life or death situations. Or maybe a toddler is just ready to go. No matter the issue this is why we improve upon technology and we know that no build is actually “final”.

So needless to say not only did I miss my meeting on Wednesday I also missed the networking event that I was scheduled to go to on Thursday. It was a rough week.

By the end of the week I felt like I loss the battle but won the war. I had a new phone, I resolved my printer issue, the meeting I was going to on Wednesday for assistance I actually conquered on my own and nailed it. I may have missed Thursday’s job fair but on that same day I was contacted about a 2 day contract assignment that I wrapped up by Saturday morning and enjoyed.

I forgot to mention that when I got my car back on Thursday morning the dealership told me that my car battery had died. They said it was a defective cell in the battery that most likely came from the factory.

I now scratch my head and wonder if it was actually a “feature”. A feature to slow me down. I had been so busy that week I missed taking my daughter to the library earlier in the week for story time. We did a few adhoc activities and picked up some new books. I try to do that at least 1-2 times a week. On that Thursday when I got my car back we went straight to the library after and later that evening I started my contract assignment.

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