In the last blog I covered the launch of the new PASS system that was introduced at the beginning of November. Without repeating too much detail of that blog, the Privilege Access Swipe System (PASS) card was introduced over 20 years ago by racecourses to manage exclusive complimentary access for owners to courses. The new PASS cards, provided by the Racecourse Association (RCA), have been designed to “ensure quick and easy access to racecourses”; to “revolutionise your pre-arrival and entry experience”; giving you “the chance to personalise your raceday experience from start to finish”; and “this modern and mobile system allows better communication between you and racecourses, ensuring a personal touch to the raceday experience”.
For the new system to work properly, it needs to be suitable for all the different types of owner and unfortunately, from our experience in terms of partnerships, it most definitely isn’t, neither for those of us who have no problems whatsoever in using the internet nor equally for those of our owners who don’t or won’t. My wife, who does all the administration for Owners for Owners, has found it extremely frustrating and technically impossible to cover all the different requirements of our owners, and it most definitely hasn’t “revolutionised or personalised” our raceday experience. In fact it has done exactly the opposite. The frustration it has caused is so great that it has fundamentally challenged our commitment to running partnerships in the future, because the hassle of doing it is just becoming intolerable. In the future we may well switch to running syndicates instead, or owning horses outside Owners for Owners.
Before detailing some of the things wrong with the PASS system, I need to vent the frustration not just with the system but with the repeated inability of British Racing to apply any of the basic rules of change management. This is not just a personal opinion, as I have spoken at length with the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) on the subject and they have been inundated with vehement complaints; I gather they have logged over 200 problems with the system. As far as I know, the whole system was rushed into operation at the last minute; there was no proper testing or Beta site to find out what might have been wrong with the system before they launched it; there were no user groups to guide design and implementation; the ROA, which could have helped enormously, was kept on the sidelines; and once again British Racing has a fiasco on its hands. It is not just Owners for Owners who are rethinking ownership. We have already heard from a number of our owners that they are considering packing in ownership because of the endless hassles, constant frustrations and just the rank inability of the racing administrators to shape up and test systems properly before launching them. This is a shocking self-inflicted wound that could easily drive owners out of the sport. It is time the ineptitude was not tolerated. For those of us who have worked in major companies worldwide, if you are in charge of a significant process launch such as the PASS system and get it wrong, you lose your job.
Right, I now feel a bit better for that rant. Here are some of the things wrong with the system:
- Some owners have not even heard anything about it, and others have not received a new card.
- For those who have received cards, not all of them have worked.
- Registration procedures have been followed but the cards have not been activated.
- Changes to passwords have been requested but there has been no response from the site.
- There is enormous confusion about what the PASS system is designed to do.
- There is equal confusion about the differences between the RCA and ROA, and the role of the PASS system in complimentary badge entitlement for those who own more than 50% of a horse.
- The length of time to brief owners on the changes and the detail of operation have been inadequate.
- British Racing refuses to acknowledge the implication of the age of most owners. Many of them cannot or will not interact with racing through the internet. The designers of the PASS system have not built this into the process with sufficient sensitivity (or at all).
- The system may work well for sole owners and even syndicates where there are nominated owners who control matters, but it will not work for a partnership of owners, some of whom wish to attend with a guest and others who cannot attend – it does not allow the pooling of the badge allocation.