Are you Italian ?
Are you ‘living the dream‘ abroad (I’m in London but I guess it’s not that different in other countries) ?
Are you amongst the ones that never had a passport (because they likely never traveled outside Europe – yes, it’s incredible but it can happen) ?
Well, if you fall inside this selective bunch of heroes then you’re standing with me in this boat.
Today, annoyed by the poor looking outfit of my National ID card, I decided to have a go with the Italian Consulate here in London and finally apply for a Passport (btw, I renewed my ID card only 2 years ago but you know, Italian ID cards are made with what seem to be the most rare, sensitive and perishable material on the planet…)
topmost border of my ID
So, long story short, I go online, armed with a lot of patience (because I know how it works when you have something to do involving Italians bureaucracy), a huge mug of cappuccino (thank you Costa) and I land on the page of the Italian Consultate in London (http://www.conslondra.esteri.it/Consolato_Londra)
Mmmh.. let’s not even talk about the horrible and almost unusable website; let’s get for granted that I promptly spot the link that ask me to book an appointment for the application for a Passport.
Clicking the link (button) I get to a beautiful (I’m joking here, of course) page that asks me to login (if I’m already registered in the system) or register (if I’m not). I’m falling in the second category, so without further ado I fill in the registration form, the security captcha and click on “Confirm”.
First hiccup: after a page refresh a beautiful and lonely message, almost lost in the negative white space of the page, tells me that an error has occurred 😦
C’mon, no reason to be pessimistic, errors happen and no software system is immune from errors. With the best positive attitude, I get back to the registration page and fill again all the info (and the security captcha). Time to have another go with the “Confirm” button and…
Second hiccup: a message tells me that I’m already registered!
Already registered ??
Ok, I didn’t see this coming! Anyway, still trying to maintain a pristine innocence, I assume that the registration process didn’t probably go “that” bad as I was thinking. Maybe there was some problem in the complex, unimaginable workflow happening behind the surface but the registration of my data went OK (as this message seems to imply).
Ok then, it’s just a matter of getting back to the previous page again (where the registration form was located) and choose, this time, to fill the “Login” form (located above the registration form).
Super easy and It takes me just a sec: insert the email (the one I provided in the registration form and the one the system tells me is “already registered”), the password I chose when registering, the familiar security captcha (OMG how much I hate captchas!) and press the promising and full of expectations “Login” button and…
The conundrum: This message leaves me puzzled… “Unkown User”
WTF ? User Not found ?!?
Wait, am I losing something here ? “Unknown User” ?? How can I be “registered” and “unknown” at the same time ?
It’s like being trapped into an impossible space-time paradox; it’s being existing and non-existing at the same time.. I cannot register because I’m “already” registered.. but I cannot login because I’m not registered….
Dear Italian Consulate, who writes the efficient and robust online software that you proudly exhibit on your website ? Do you really understand how old-fashioned, horrific, unusable and essentially useless is the so-called service you offer to your fellow citizens abroad ?
That brings me to the question on subject: “Is Italy the third world of IT ?”
I don’t even have to answer the question; the answer was already in my mind years and years ago and was one of the (many) reasons why I decided to leave that miserable country.
Sure, software systems like the one used in the Italian Consulate already speak by themselves 😉
Thank you Italy for reminding me, every single day of my life, how lucky I’m to be away from you.